OSCE Implementation meeting on Human Dimension Issues
MIGRATION REFUGEES AND DISPLACED PERSONS
17 - 25 October 2000, Warsaw
Written presentation of the representative of RAINBOW, 25.10.2000
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentleman,
Should a person claim that there are citizens in Europe at the beginning of the 21st century who do not possess the right to visit the graves of their parents or have the right to live and die in their place of birth, this would sound bizarre.
Believe it or not this happens to be the case in Greece. Yes in Greece. A European country, a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe and of course a participant State in the OSCE.
The Greek State prohibits the repatriation of Macedonian political refugees who have been exiled or who escaped from Greece during the Greek Civil War (1945 - 1949). Until 1982 ethnic Greek and ethnic Macedonian refugees were denied return to Greece. According to the Greek government's so-called policy of "national reconciliation" (1982) refugees who left Greece during the Greek Civil War are now permitted to return Greece.
However, the common decision (106841 / 29.12.1982 - L. 1266/1982) of the Greek ministries of Internal Affairs and Public Order states:
"... can return to Greece all Greeks by race who left Greece during the Civil War 1946 - 1949 and because of which went abroad as political refuges even if they lost their Greek citizenship..."
It is shocking that such terminology (Greek by race) is used by the Greek government to determine who is Greek and who is not, classifying citizens as "pure" Greeks and others.
Should I ask: Does the Greek government implement any blood test to determine the race or the origin of their citizens -- or former citizens as are the Macedonian political refugees?
This discriminatory policy is implemented exclusively against Macedonian political refugees. These individuals are not permitted to return to Greece. Today they temporarily reside in European countries as well as in the United States, Australia and Canada. Macedonians who left Greece at that time were stripped of all rights of repatriation (which is allowed only for ethnic Greek refugees according to the decision of 1982) and many have been placed on a black list. They are in fact "persona non grata." This act deprives them of the right to even visit their relatives and birthplaces.
Compare the treatment of Macedonian political refugees with their ethnic Greek counterparts who upon their return are not only repatriated and receive their Greek citizenship, but are awarded special benefits for themselves and families, according to the government's decision of 1982.
Ladies and gentleman,
I am sure that by the term refugee you have in mind the recent pictures from Kosovo and the Kosovars or maybe from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian refugees.
I hope these people will not suffer the same fate as the Macedonian refugees of 50 years ago, who left Greece during the Greek Civil War. About 60,000 Macedonian political refugees (among them 30,000 children), former Greek citizens have spent 50 years of their lives in an imposed exile because the Greek government will not allow their repatriation -- merely on the grounds of their declaring themselves as ethnic Macedonians.
This discriminatory policy on a racial basis being implemented by the Greek government indicates a doctrine promoting national "purity," national homogeneity, as a constitutional segment of the state and as a prerequisite for its development. This view has, unfortunately, been nurtured by the state and its agents over decades - a view which has become the creed of the majority in Greek society.
Mr. Moderator, Ladies and Gentleman,
May I ask? Why does the Greek State except only ethnic Macedonian political refugees from the right to repatriation?
Which Convention or international agreement gives a state the right to prohibit a former citizen from visiting his family home and birthplace merely because his ethnic identity is politically undesirable?
What is this policy of Apartheid that is still in practice today in Greece a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe and also a member of OSCE?
In closing I ask for the assistance of the OSCE to resolve this situation that effects our people.
Thank you all for your attention.