Symbolic Reception For the Macedonian Political Refugees
Allowed to Enter Greece After 55 Years
August 22, 2003
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Florina - Lerin 22-8-2003
On 20 August 2003 a symbolic reception took place in Florina to welcome
those Macedonian political refugees permitted entry to Greece on the
basis of a recent decision by the Greek Foreign Ministry.
The event was organized by the Reception Committee, which was composed
of the refugees' family members residing in Greece and Rainbow party
officials. We believe that the repeal of the racist provision of the
Ministerial Decision of Law 1266/1982, which excludes Macedonian political
refugees of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) from the right of repatriation,
and the positive settlement of this problem, will have both a humanitarian
and a political dimension.
The first dimension ought to be to promote the idea that Greece should
unconditionally respect the universal human values and fundamental
human rights, such as the right to return, to live and to die in the
country of one's birth. The second dimension ought perhaps to be to
signal the change in attitude in Greek politics concerning the issue
of the national identity of today's Greek citizen. The notion of "citizen" should
play the primary role, as opposed to the view and political policy
that has existed up to now, which has national purity and the homogenization
of the state as a precondition to its prosperity. At the same time,
the positive solution to the problem of Macedonian political refugees
would provide a stimulus to Greek society to positively consider the
issues of respect for the cultural, linguistic and ethnic rights of
all Greek citizens.
However, state agencies have reneged on their promises for a definitive
settlement of the problem of Macedonian political refugees, as witnessed
in statements made these past few months by Foreign Ministry officials.
This, and the reactions of nationalistic and conservative political
circles unfortunately shows the rigid ideology, the insecurity, the
prejudices, the phobias, the political immaturity, and the introversion
still possessed by the greater sector of Greek society and its political
At the welcoming reception in Florina, a negative impression was made
by the absence of representation from those organizations of Greek
political refugees who repatriated in 1982, of the local authorities,
and of various political party deputies and organizations that had
been invited to participate.
We would like to point out to our government that there is no such
thing as humanitarian measures by installments. We refer to the anti-democratic
measure of selective entry, which allowed the possibility of visitation
only to those political refugees whose places of birth are not written
in their original form (the Greek state changed the original place
names in 1926 and 1928 as part of its policy of national homogenization)
and restricted their stay to only twenty (20) days in Greece.
Rainbow has not in hesitated in the past, nor will it cease in the
future to condemn those Macedonian sociopolitical movements that expressed
expansionist ideas. We therefore once again call upon our government
and our fellow democratic Greek citizens to join us in discussing an
approach to the issues of respect for diversity and the rights of the
Macedonian minority in Greece.
We want a democratic Greece in which all citizens have equality and
dignity. We want a modern European country that respects minority rights
through the implementation of European and international conventions.
We hope that the political arena will finally transcend the stereotypes
and prejudice that impede the course of Europe and the overall democratization
of our country.
THE POLITICAL SECRETARIAT