Presentation by Pavlos Voskopoulos
at the First AEKA Congress in Athens
May 24th - 25th, 2003
this page in Greek
The first two-day Convention of the New
Reformed Movement of the Left (Ananeotiki Eksynchronistiki
Kinisi tis Aristeras, or AEKA) took place on Saturday, 24/5/2003, at
Inn in Athens. This was the third anniversary of the movement's
formation. The Convention's main slogan was "The Counterattack by
Pavlos Voskopoulos, the spokesperson for the Rainbow party, was invited
by convention organizers to present the positions of the
Macedonian minority in Greece. The following is a transcript
of that speech:
I would like to begin by thanking AEKA for inviting Rainbow to participate
in its first Convention. If I am not mistaken, this is the first time
since 1949 that a member of the Macedonian minority has been invited
to formally express their positions at a meeting of a Greek political
Obviously, you are expecting to hear about the Macedonian minority in
Greece. Permit me, however, to first express our own views on the political
situation in this country. Rainbow members believe that Greece currently
contains two political and social poles, two ideological currents with
their respective practices.
One is the majority, which is characterized by an anti-European
and more generalized anti-Western orientation. It is inward focused and
nationalistic, strongly anti-Turkish, conservative, and permeates virtually
the entire spectrum of political forces in our country. That its primary
voices are generally accepted, or at least tolerated, in Greek politics
and society, was evident in the relatively recent past and during the
war in the former Yugoslavia. At that time, the flags of the ultra-rightwing
organization Chryssi Avghi waved side by side with the red flags of the
Greek Communist Party (KKE) against Europe and in favor of Milosevic
under the banner of the two-headed Byzantine eagle of the Orthodox Church.
The other current has a clearly European orientation. It is extroverted,
anti-nationalistic, and democratic. But this currently is a minority
position, maintained by minor political parties and individuals in various
political arenas in an attempt to counteract the majority current.
We believe that AEKA is part of the second current, and we consider
it to be an ideological ally in the same democratic camp with Rainbow.
I mention all this because it is the context and prism through which
we must deal with the issue of minority rights, given that basic principle
that minority issues involve and must be positively dealt with by society
as a whole. Minority issues and the general attitude toward diversity
are crucial to the development of political democracy in our county.
It is not simply a matter of respect for minority rights.
The Macedonian minority in Greece was also a victim of the national
Greek myth or, rather, the consequences of that myth as far as the implementation
of the national political homogenization of our country's population.
From its founding, the modern Greek state believed that its citizens
had to be the descendents of Pericles and Socrates, with their rich civilization,
and hence a chosen or blessed people. It proceeded to politically discriminate
against and absorb whatever departed from the dominant ideology. We believe
that Greek society must be liberated from the bonds of its national myth.
We are not - permit me here to use the first person plural since we minorities
are also in a way the product of the same system - more superior or inferior
to any other people or country. And with this in mind, let us all contribute
majority and minorities together toward the further democratization of
Greece and the progress our overall society.
In recent weeks the media has been showing us images of Greek-Cypriote
refugees on the dividing line of Cyprus. We witness their emotions and
resolve while waiting to cross into the Turkish sector and see their
homes once again, after thirty years. Indeed, these are very moving,
human moments - resulting from the decision of the Turkish Cypriots and
Denktash to open the border. I wonder how many of you are aware that,
as we speak, the Macedonian political refugees of the Greek Civil War
still do not have the right even to visit their family homes, because
the Foreign Ministry blacklists them as politically undesirable.
As for the policy of a minority itself, Rainbow has repeatedly stated
that along with advocating for its own rights, it has a responsibility
to reassure the general population that it does not desire the change
of existing borders through the exercise of those rights. This is especially
necessary where the Balkans are concerned. We can learn a lot from the
recent events in our region.
For an example of this policy I cite our position on the introduction
of the Macedonian language in the Greek educational system. We do not
want to have separate schools for this purpose, because that would have
a segregating effect. Instead, we wish to see Macedonian as part of the
curriculum in the Greek schools in regions where the language is spoken.
In addition, concerning the policy of minorities toward neighboring
countries, permit me to quote a friend who is in the same ideological
bulwark and has formulated the theory of the prophylactic. The prophylactic
is very useful, and is highly effective in the job for which it was intended.
But it is useless afterwards, and gets tossed out. This, in a way, is
the fate of a minority if it becomes the victim of interstate conflict
and antagonism, especially, if it allows itself to used as a political
tool that serves the interests of one side or the other.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you once again for inviting me,
and to reiterate my conviction that minority issues must discussed and
solved by the majority and minority together. In this way, all democratic
citizens contribute to the democratization of our country, for a better
society and a promising tomorrow.
Athens 24 May 2003