Rainbow Party Congress
cancelled twice following threats from Greek far
Brüssel / Bruxelles 9/12/03, by Davyth
The Rainbow Party Congress, which represents the Greek
Macedonian national minority, campaigns for the language and is a member
of the European Free Alliance group (EFA) in the European Parliament, has
had to cancel its Congress twice following threats from the Greek far
In a press release EFA President Nelly Maes MEP stated
that: ‘We are appalled by the fact that the Rainbow Congress was cancelled
twice owing to personal threats and pressure from the extremist circles.
In a fully democratic society any practices resulting in political
discriminations should be despised and prosecuted’.
concerned by the fact that openly xenophobic, racist and neo-nazi
organizations are legal and their ideologies are tolerated in Greece which
is a member of a European Union. Such movements were involved in
intimidations that occurred in the city of Edessa / Voden [mid-western
Greek Macedonia] where the Rainbow party was to hold its Congress’.
She continued that: ‘Our two letters to Greek Prime Minister Mr.
Kostas Simitis, asking for an assistance to the Rainbow party in
preparation of the congress as well as for safeguarding security to all
the participants of the event, remain without any response'.
‘However, we would like to express our hope that the Olympic Games
which are to be held in Athens in 2004 under a motto ‘For a civilization
of the civilizations’ will have a positive impact on Greece to ratify the
European Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages’.
‘We believe that this
would enable the Macedonian national minority in Greece to find its proper
place within Greek society and to contribute in strengthening democracy in
your country’, she added.
The party Congress was originally
scheduled to take place on November 30th in the Xenia hotel, Edessa.
However, the owner refused to rent it after the Congress venue was
announced in various far-right publications. The owner's car was damaged,
part of the conference room smashed and the owner and his family received
death threats. Following these incidents the event was postponed.
On November 30th, after a meeting in the town, far-right groups
held a rally in the streets of Edessa. They criticized the Rainbow
Congress and threatened that on December 7th they would be present to
prevent any meeting from taking place. Meanwhile, on the streets of
Edessa, the far right distributed inflammatory pamphlets employing
derogatory language against the Rainbow Party.
events, on December 1st, Nelly Maes, wrote to the Greek Prime Minister,
Mr. Kostas Simitis, requesting the Greek Government take the necessary
measures to ensure the Rainbow Congress was able to take place without
incident including protecting the safety of its participants, since
representatives of the EFA Group were invited to the Congress.
Given the circumstances, the President of the local cultural
association ‘Alexander the Great’, decided not to rent out the
association's room. The town’s Mayor, also refused to assign any public
space for the Congress.
On December 3rd Nelly Maes faxed another
letter to the Greek Prime Minister asking that the Greek Government
intervene. Authorities, however, did not take any action to ensure the
proper and safe undertaking of the Congress and refused to respond to any
of the letters. On December 4th, the conference room was cancelled by the
At the same time announcements advertising
excursions to Edessa for December 7th appeared in printed material and
newspapers issued by the far-right groups that had rallied against the
Congress the week before.
The Rainbow Party press release states
that: ‘Whereas Greek authorities, both state and local, allowed the
rallies and propaganda of the far-right, they refused to ensure the safety
of those who wanted to participate in the Rainbow Congress. Within the
context of these incidents, the Congress Organizing Committee decided to
postpone the event’.
They add: ‘Greek officials constantly demand
basic rights for Greek minorities in Turkey and Albania, yet, Greeks do
not seem to notice that these are the very same rights Greece denies its
The Greek Government has still not responded to
Nelly Maes. (© eurolang)