OSCE Implementation meeting on Human Dimension Issues
17 - 25 October 2000, Warsaw
Written presentation of the representative of RAINBOW, 24.10.2000
Mr. Moderator, Ladies and Gentleman,
When, back in 1998, I was given the opportunity to address this assembly I expressed regret that I had to complain before this forum about the human rights practices of my country. Today I have to repeat the same complaint and again with regret voice my strong objection to the human rights practices being applied in my country, the Republic of Greece. I have to say that no improvement has been observed in this period of two years.
The existence of national minorities is still not recognised in the Republic of Greece. The Turkish minority is recognised only as religious minority, while the Macedonian national minority is not recognised as an existing entity.
Although national minorities are not recognized their members are persecuted on a national minority basis.
The State allows, sometimes even encourages, the mass media, church authorities and para-state institutions to be against members of national minorities (the Turkish and the Macedonian) in order to terrorize and politically discredit them.
A policy of assimilation and discrimination against the Macedonian ethnic minority is undertaken through legislative measures and court prosecutions. The public use of the Macedonian language and alphabet is prohibited, as well as their use in the education system. Court prosecutions are undertaken against members of the two national minorities concerning activities in connection with the manifestation and protection of their national cultural identity.
Four members of the "OURANIO TOXO - VINOZHITO" political organisation representing the Macedonian ethnic minority in Greece (including this speaker) are being prosecuted for exhibiting a bilingual sign (in Greek and Macedonian) at the entrance to their offices in 1995. The Public Prosecutor has charged them with "disturbing public order" and "for having incited discord among citizens through the use of the Macedonian language in their sign." These charges are in compliance with the Greek policy of denying the existence of the Macedonian language.
The Macedonian ethnicity has been prohibited from establishing a cultural association (The Home of Macedonian Culture), through which they endeavoured to preserve and foster their culture. Although there was a decision against Greece at the European Court for Human Rights, the very same members of the Macedonian minority were recently prohibited from establishing the cultural association under the name "ROUSELI" according to a decision of a local court in the region of Koufalovo or Koufalia in the municipality of Solun or Thessaloniki.
In addition to the aforementioned measures, ethnic cleansing of the Macedonian minority is done in another perfidies manner, by taking away one's citizenship in a way provided for by Article 20 of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Greece.
Many Macedonians who have gone abroad to work have become victims of this discriminatory policy. Greek authorities in the Ministry of Internal Affairs are using the Law of Citizenship against the Macedonian national minority of Greece. Article 20, Paragraph 1g, states, among other things:
"may lose their citizenship, a Greek citizen who is abroad and works or is active against the national interests of Greece"
Greek authorities use this article exclusively against the Macedonian population, focusing on those Macedonians who are identified as expressing their Macedonian identity, culture and language by participating in Macedonian associations. This is especially true for Macedonians in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Greek authorities, through their embassies and consulates in foreign countries, inform the Greek Ministry of Internal Affairs about the activities of Macedonians who are citizens of Greece. They even spy on Macedonians in order to identify those who visit or participate in any Macedonian cultural events or groups. The Ministry of Internal Affairs works in collaboration with the Council of Citizenship to determine who shall be deprived of their Greek citizenship. Once such a decision has been made it is printed in the government journal and at the same time local officials at the victim's home municipality where are informed. Upon receipt of this document the municipal leader orders the community council to delete the former citizen from their registration records. Parallel with this the border stations are informed that the victim is placed on the so-called inadmissible list.
This discriminatory policy of the Greek state is presented in the last report of the ECRI Commission (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) of the Council of Europe as well as in reports from the US Dept. of State. In addition to the above issues it is now evident that selective immigration is done in the regions of Western Thrace and Macedonia, were the Turkish and Macedonian minority live, in order to create a new wave of hatred against the national minorities and the majority population. At the same time the repatriation of the Macedonian political refugees who left Greece during the Greek Civil War is prohibited.
We demand the recognition of the two national minorities, and all other national minorities that seek recognition, the abolition of all aforementioned measures by which discrimination is done, and the stopping of all court prosecutions. We demand the introduction of measures whereby the consequences of the executed policy against the national minorities be removed, in accordance with international norms and the European Framework Convention for the Rights of National Minorities which Greece has already signed in 1997.
A request from our organization is that experts from international and European institutions, such as the OSCE, make a scholarly research on the rights of national minorities in the Balkan countries and prepare a comparative study on the situation of the national minorities.
We appeal to the Greek government to begin a dialogue with members of its Macedonian national minority according to the European Framework Convention for the Rights of National Minorities which, unfortunately, has not been ratified by the Greek parliament.