Symbolic Reception at the Greek/Macedonian
on August 10, 2003
August 1, 2003
this page in Greek
Florina - Lerin 1-8-2003
Regarding the question of exceptions *(N 1266/1982) relating to the
repatriation of the Macedonian political refugees from the Greek Civil
War (1946 - 1949), many of whom, as small children, were forced to
abandon their homes and many of which after the end of the war were
deprived of their Greek citizenship and had their properties confiscated;
recent statements from Greek authorities regarding this issue declare
On 8-6-2003 in the Newspaper "Sundays Eleftherotipia" the
Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Andreas Loverdos, in an interview
regarding Greece's political relations with other Balkan countries
stated the following:
Journalist: There is, however, a political and humanitarian question,
on the level of society. We mean the political refugees of the Civil
War, who were excluded from the general repatriation and live mainly
in the FYROM, having the citizenship of this state.
A. Loverdos: "We do not consider this a subject
of our bilateral relations. I repeat that only unresolved issue in
our bilateral relations
is the questions of name. However, there are through the historical
political developments, certain thorns of the past that are related
mainly to people that we should uproot. Our political will is to uproot
also the last thorns that have remained. I appreciate that one of them
is one you mentioned. And our own disposition is to offer a solution,
and in particular not in the distant future but immediately. This solution
should not involve the question of the name, from either side, but
simultaneously will not put onto center stage this torn that comes
from the past. I think that there is, technically, ways for this to
be overcome. It requires overcoming this problem with goodwill from
both sides. And from our own side, this disposition exists. For example:
what functions as obstacles for the visit of these persons to Greece
could very well be overcome in a simple but technical way. We are looking
for a technical solution and there are a number of them."
Journalist: This concerns the freedom to visit and have contacts,
which is the primary question?
A. Loverdos: "There exist intense sentimental relations among
people. There also exist historical reasons. Now that we have overcome
all these problems of the past and the Civil War, we cannot maintain
these remnants, which may be political remnants but, on a personal
and sentimental level, function in a very hard way. We are disposed
to overcome them. I repeat that we seek a technical solution. There
has been heard interesting and feasible thoughts, that will not offend
in any way the unresolved problem of the name, which requires a solution
of mutual compromise by the two sides that will lead to an acceptable
result. This will not become, however, a prelude for the resolution
of the name".
Journalist: Does there exist a time limit or horizon for resolving
the problem of the refugees?
A. Loverdos: "We determine it to by within this summer".
The representative of the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Panagiotis
Beglitis, made the following statement on 1-7-2003:
"After instructions from the Foreign Minister, Mr. Georgios Papandreou,
the undersecretary of Foreign Affairs analyzed the issue of granting
entry to the political refugees who left Greece during the Greek
Civil War and became established in FYROM. During the meeting a decision
was made to grant them permission to enter and stay in Greece for twenty
days, from the period of August 10th to October 30th, 2003 and the
proper instructions were given to the responsible authorities".
In Mr. Beglitis' announcement he does not specify what these "proper" instructions
to the authorities are "regarding the refugees" who live
in the Republic of Macedonia. Therefore, we asked the representative
of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify how this entry is
to take place without obstructions. Specifically:
1). How will permission to enter Greece be granted to the Macedonian
political refugees who are currently on the "unwanted / black" lists
of the ministry of Foreign Affairs and who haven't been allowed into
Greece to visit their villages and relatives for over half a century?
2). How will permission to enter Greece be granted to the Macedonian
political refugees, whose place of birth on their travel documents
(passports) is written using the old Macedonian names. These names
are still used orally in our country as well as in official documents,
on maps of public unions, organizations such as topographical services
and on the military maps, which belong to the Greek Ministry of Defense?
3). How will this affect the entry of political refugees -- that now
reside in other European countries as well as Canada, Australia and
the U.S.A. -- who want to visit their ancestral homes, when in this
category there are still prohibitions and restrictions regarding their
entrance into Greece?
We note that the aforementioned manner of writing village names (e.g.,
the village of Meliti using the old name of Voshtarani) in travel documents
issued by the countries in which the political refugees now reside
constitutes, for Greece, a reason to deny them entry. This is unacceptable
for a country about to host the Olympic games and who prefixes the
motto of the Greek Ministry of Culture with: "for a civilization
We believe the civilization of a country includes the different linguistic,
religious, cultural and ethnic groups thereof. Part of the linguistic-cultural
heritage is the toponyms and we consider it an insult to our democracy
that Greece forbids entry into its territory to those former citizens
who use an element of this cultural heritage.
Greece should establish a record of toponyms (both old and new), a
practice and a policy carried out in many democratic countries, especially
since there is such a provision in international texts related to the
protection of the heritage of linguistic, religious or ethnic minorities.
Let every democratic citizen of Greece consider how he or she would
judge similar behavior from another country acting against its Greek
minority. Let us assume, for example, that the Albanian government
forbids entry to one of its former citizens, a member of the Greek
minority, who abandoned Albania in the course of the Greek-Italian
war in 1940, was stripped of his Albanian citizenship and had his property
confiscated by the state. Assume that person today resides in Canada
or Australia and in his Canadian or Australian passport, his place
of birth is not mentioned as 'Drach' (the Albanian name of a city in
Southern Albania with a substantial Greek minority), but "Dirahio" (the
name of the same city in Greek).
How would we judge such an action of the Albanian government? How
would we judge the placement of other such citizens in a list of "personae
non grata" by the Albanian Foreign Office, because in Melbourne
or Toronto they participate in Greek and not Albanian cultural associations?
What would we say if the Albanian government stripped them of their
citizenship and forbade them as long as they lived to visit their families
and their places of origin in Southern Albania? Would we not correctly
characterize such behavior as racist and inhuman?
Such is, unfortunately, the policy of the Greek government toward
the Macedonian political refugees of the Greek Civil War, most of whom
were small children when they were forced to leave Greece.
We call upon the Greek government to abolish this inhuman and racist
decision that exempts the repatriation of Macedonian political refugees,
to give them back their citizenship and to apply the same procedures
for them as were used in the case of the political refugees who declared
themselves "Greeks by genus" and returned to Greece after
Because we consider it our obligation as Greek and European citizens
to contribute to the adoption of a European identity and the furtherance
of democracy in our own country, we declare that from today and until
the beginning of the Olympic Games in co-operation with every democratic
citizen we shall make the best use of the Olympic Games of 2004 for
the promotion of our points of view both at a national and at an international
Regarding the most recent developments and having considered the statements
made lately by the spokespersons of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
whom we also cite, the Committee for the Reception of Refugees in Greece,
consisting of members of 'Rainbow', that acts as the political representative
of the Macedonian minority in Greece, including the relatives of the
political refugees, decided to organize a symbolic reception at the
border crossing at Nikki (Negochani), between Greece and the Republic
of Macedonia on Sunday, August 10th 2003, at 11 a.m.
COMMITTEE OF THE RECEPTION