Press Release -
Macedonian Political Refugees
April 30, 2003
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...but all that Ulysses desires is to see the
smoke rising from his own chimneys once more before he dies (Odyssey, i, 57f.)
After more than fifty years the Macedonian freedom fighters, soldiers
of the Democratic Army and thousands of refugee children, victims of
the civil war, are still trapped in forced exile from their homes.
Tashkent, Bucharest, Varna, Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Skopje still
hold thousands of grandfathers, fathers, sons and daughters - many
miles removed from their families, relations and friends.
The inhuman decision of the Greek Ministries of Internal Affairs and
Public Order still bars the door to their return.
Joint Decision by the Ministers of Internal Affairs
and Public Order
Subject: Free repatriation and granting of Greek Citizenship
to political refugees.
Bearing in mind: The provisions of Law 400/76 'On
the Cabinet and Ministries' as amended by Law 1266/1982, and
in the framework of the policy of the Government on National
reconciliation and unity,
WE HEREBY DECIDE:
All individuals of Greek race (our emphasis) who
during the Civil War of 1946-1949, and because of that Civil
War, sought refuge in a foreign state as political refugees,
may now return to Greece, even those who have been stripped of
their Greek Citizenship...
THE MINISTERS OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC ORDER
G. Yennimatas, Yiannis Skoularikis
How is it possible in a legal document issued by a European country
such as Greece to find such divisive expressions - divisive of its
own citizens - as 'of Greek race', expressions which remind us of the
South African apartheid?
It is evident that in its use of the term 'of Greek race', the decision
seeks to deny certain individuals their inalienable right of return.
Namely those who certain people, pursuing their own interests, have
chosen to describe as Bulgarian, Slav-speaking, Slavo-Macedonian, bilingual,
non-existent ... and so on.
The decision - racist in its inspiration - by the Ministries of INTERNAL
AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC ORDER of Greece, keeps the doors to return firmly
locked and bolted. Many of these people are also included on lists
of 'undesirables', and do not even have the right to visit Greece.
By what right do the authorities continue, even today, to keep families
apart, to deny them their right to enjoy together life's sweet and
We often hear certain people speaking of the Greeks of Imbros and
Tenedos, of the Greeks of Istanbul/Constantinople, of the Greek minority
in southern Albania, of human rights...
Today, following the decision by the Turkish Cypriot leader Denktas
to open up the borders, everyone in Greece is talking about the Greek
Cypriot refugees in Cyprus, and the emotion they feel on seeing once
again, after thirty years, their family homes, their great patience
as they waited for the opportunity to cross the dividing line, to see
their homes and their villages once again, to smell the lemon tree
in the courtyard of the family home...
Today, in the Greece of 2003, a member of the European Union, a country
which boasts that it was the cradle of democracy, a country which this
year is hosting summit conferences of the EU and next year will be
hosting the Olympic Games, under the slogan 'For a civilisation of
cultures' - this decision which denies Macedonian political refugees
their rights of return, and even denies some of them the right to visit
Greece, should be an insult to the feelings of all democratic people.
What is certainly an insult is the guilty silence of politicians,
journalists and intellectuals.
Greece should feel deeply ashamed that in the 21st century the regime
of Denktas shows more true appreciation than does our government of
the lines of the Odyssey we quoted above...
The Political Secretariat