Presentation by RAINBOW
48th FUEN Congress on Nationalities, Bolzano, Italy
May 29 - 31, 2003
Web Page: http://www.fuen.org/pages/english/e_5a_2002.html
[Background: A delegation from the Greek RAINBOW
party attended the 48th FUEN Congress in Bolzano, Italy where
they were invited to present the status of the Macedonian
minority in Greece. RAINBOW, which is currently an associate
member of FUEN, also initiated discussions toward full membership.
A delegation from FUEN was invited to Greece to witness for
themselves the circumstances of the Macedonian minority.]
Presentation by RAINBOW:
We very much appreciate your invitation and the opportunity
to expose the plight of the Macedonian minority in Greece
at this 48th Conference of FUEN, here in Bolzano, South Tyrol.
Unfortunately, I must once again indict my country. However,
it is my opinion, as a citizen of Greece and as a European
citizen, that this will help toward the further democratization
It is the official Greek position not to acknowledge the
existence of its national minorities. The Turkish minority
in Greece is recognized only as a religious minority of "Muslim
Greeks," while the Macedonian national minority is not
even recognized as an existing entity. Although national
minorities are not recognized, their members are persecuted
on a national minority basis.
For decades, Greece has practice a policy of forced assimilation
and discrimination against its Macedonian ethnic minority.
This effort is institutionalized through legislative measures
and court prosecutions. Even the public use of the Macedonian
language and alphabet are prohibited, as well as their use
in the education system.
Greece allows, even encourages, media, religious authorities
and para-state institutions to terrorize members of its national
minorities (Turkish and Macedonian) in order to intimidate
and politically discredit them.
In the recent past, RAINBOW, the political organisation
of the Macedonian ethnic minority in Greece, was forbidden
by the courts from participating in elections. Thanks to
the brave intervention of the European RAINBOW, in Brussels,
we were allowed at the last minute to put up candidates,
after an urgent decision by the Supreme Court.
In Greece, court prosecutions are undertaken against members
of the two national minorities, concerning activities in
connection with the protection and promotion of their national
and cultural identity.
In 1995, four members of RAINBOW (including this speaker)
were prosecuted for displaying a bilingual sign (in Greek
and Macedonian) at the entrance to their office in the city
of Florina. The public prosecutor charged them with "disturbing
public order" and "having incited discord among
the citizens by using the Macedonian language in their sign." These
charges are in line with the Greek policy of denying the
existence of the Macedonian language.
On September 15th, 1998 four members of RAINBOW were taken
to court by the authorities. They were eventually acquitted
thanks to the vigorous protests of foreign M.E.P.s, the appearance
of Greek democrats and human rights NGOs in their defence.
During the same period (September 1995) Greek ultra-nationalists
from the city of Florina and the surrounding area destroyed
RAINBOW's Florina office. This was done at the instigation
of the mayor of the city, the municipal council and the local
church, who all issued decrees to this effect.
The lawsuit brought by RAINBOW against these Greek ultra-nationalists,
seeking material damages for the destruction of their office,
was refused by the courts on the grounds that: "...there
is no reason to accept the suit, since the preliminary hearings
ascertained the existence of no offence and no culpability..." The
sequel of these sad events would be written in the near future
at the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The Macedonian minority in Greece is being
prohibited from establishing a cultural association (The
Home of Macedonian
Culture), through which they endeavour to preserve and foster
their culture. Although there was a judgement against Greece
at the European Court for Human Rights (1998), the very same
members of the Macedonian minority were still prohibited
from establishing the cultural association under the name "ROUSELI" according
to a decision of a local court in the region of Koufalia,
in the municipality of Thessaloniki.
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
Unbelievably, this happens to be the case in Greece today.
A European country, a member of the European Union, the Council
of Europe the OSCE and the UN.
The Greek State prohibits the repatriation of Macedonian
political refugees who left Greece during the Greek Civil
War (1946 - 1949). Until 1982 ethnic Greek and ethnic Macedonian
political refugees were denied return to Greece. However,
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.
Unfortunately, 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 genus* 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..."
* The word genus is synonymous with the word race and was
deliberately used to discriminate against the Macedonian
political refugees based on their ethnicity.
It is alarming that such racist terminology (Greek by ethnicity)
was used by the Greek government to determine who is Greek
and who is not, classifying citizens as "pure Greeks" and "non-Greeks".
This discriminatory policy is implemented
against Macedonian political refugees. These individuals
permitted to return to Greece. Today they temporarily reside
in European countries as well as in the United States, Australia
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. This act deprives them
of the right to even visit their relatives and birthplaces.
In the eyes of Greece, they are "persona non grata."
Ladies and Gentleman,
I am sure that by the term refugee you have in mind the
relatively 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 from Greece. About 60,000 Macedonian
political refugees (among them 30,000 children), former Greek
citizens have spent the last 50 years of their lives in a
forced exile. This has come about because the Greek government
refuses to allow their repatriation on the grounds that they
declare themselves ethnic Macedonians and not ethnic Greeks.
May I ask? 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 and UN?
In addition to the aforementioned measures, "modern
ethnic cleansing" of the Macedonian minority is done
in another perfidious manner: by taking away one's citizenship
in a way provided for by Article 20 of the Law on Citizenship
of the Republic of Greece.
Many Macedonians who have gone abroad to work have become
victims of this discriminatory policy. Greek authorities
in the Ministry of Internal Affairs are using the Law of
Citizenship against the Macedonian national minority of Greece.
Article 20, Paragraph 1g, states, among other things:
"...may lose their citizenship, a Greek citizen who
is abroad and works or is active against the national interests
Greek authorities use this article exclusively against the
Macedonian population, focusing on those Macedonians who
are identified as expressing their Macedonian identity, culture
and language by participating in Macedonian associations.
This is especially true for Macedonians in the United States,
Canada and Australia.
Greek authorities, through their embassies and consulates
in foreign countries, inform the Greek Ministry of Internal
Affairs about the activities of Macedonians who are citizens
of Greece. They even spy on Macedonians in order to identify
those who visit or participate in any Macedonian cultural
events or groups.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs works in collaboration
with the Council of Citizenship to determine who shall be
deprived of their Greek citizenship. Once such a decision
has been made it is printed in the government journal and
local officials at the victim's home municipality are informed.
Upon receipt of this document the municipal leader orders
the community council to delete the former citizen from their
registration records. Parallel with this the border stations
are informed that the victim is placed on the so-called inadmissible
This discriminatory policy of Greece is presented in the
last report of the ECRI Commission (European Commission against
Racism and Intolerance) of the Council of Europe as well
as in reports from the US Dept. of State.
This policy, based on race, implemented by the Greek government,
demonstrates the doctrine of promoting the notion of national "purity" and
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.
We usually speak about the policy of states against minorities
but we do not often talk about the policy of the national
Our organization believes the policy of national minorities
in the Balkan countries should be to remove any fear among
the general population that these minorities wish the gradual
change of existing borders or that the demand for rights
is just a pretext for this. This is a distraction designed
to draw attention away from the central issue.
National minorities should not be subjected to manipulation
and interstate antagonism nor become a reason for the meddling
by one state into the affairs of another. Minorities should
cooperate and help deepen the ties with the constituent nation
and with all nationalities that live in the state. In this
way they will become a powerful factor for peace, cooperation
and friendship in the Balkans and Europe.
National minorities in the Balkan states should make use
of the positive examples of the European experience and aim
for the gradual union of all European countries with respect
for minority rights and the overcoming of nationalistic prejudices
Thank you all for your attention.