Turk Minority Movement for Human Rights
Press Release on the Remarks
by Greek M.E.P, Xarchakos in Greek
April 29, 2003
this page in Greek
Turkish Minority Movement
for Human and Minority Rights
5 Othonos Street
69100 Komotini, Greece
For information: A. DEDE
Fax: +3025310 37759
An Off-Key Voice in the European Parliament
In a recent parliamentary question (19-3-03) put to the Committee,
New Democracy MEP Stavros Xarchakos, a well-known composer, asked to
be informed as to what exactly is this EBLUL (European Bureau for Lesser
Used Languages). This EBLUL, he went on, which systematically advances
the defamation of a member state of the EU, Greece, and is surrounded
by ultra-nationalistic elements that are incited by third countries
to systematically create tensions. He has ascertained that, of late,
EBLUL has spearheaded an intensifying anti-Greek propaganda and questions
why the EU is funding a bureau that propagandizes against one of its
member-states, etc. He even asks to be apprised of the names of the
members of the Greek Committee of EBLUL and their precise professions
and other credentials.
According to Mr. Xarchakos, Greece is a paradise for minorities, since
cultural diversity is fully protected and provided for by law. And
in this context, the population of the Muslim minority is increasing
and, among other things, has unimpeded reception of Turkish satellite
channels. The tiny Slav-speaking community in Florina, whose political
party does not hesitate to revile Greece and the Greek people, enjoys
similar freedoms. What's more the notion of the existence of a so-called
Macedonian language, which is spoken in Greece, is historically questionable.
Lastly, Mr. Xarchakos, being ignorant or pretending to be ignorant,
advises EBLUL to concern itself with the oppressed Greek minorities,
such as those in Albania and Turkey, and hence to exceed its statues
and the borders of the EU, which is its exclusive sphere of involvement.
One could overlook all these picturesque excesses if they were not
indicative of a mentality still endemic in Greece and if they did not
come from this particular person - an unpleasant surprise, but certainly
not one off. In his question, Mr. Xarchakos touches on many sensitive
issues. But we will resist the provocation and confine ourselves to
a summary critique.
Initially, one could truly be awestruck by all these inaccuracies,
distortions, fear-mongering, anachronistic and out of place positions,
the ignorance or feigned ignorance, the nationalistic complacency and
egocentrism, the un- and anti-European mentality, the ideological fixation
on the period of the Balkan Wars, the cold-war, and the narrow-minded
perceptions of diversity and the minority phenomenon that directly
leads to conflict and paves the road to racism. Which of all the anachronisms
packed in Mr. Xarchakos' question does one marvel at first? His political
timepiece appears to have stopped sometime in the early 20th century.
Observe the cogent, disarming argument of the breadth of the freedom
enjoyed by our Turkish minority with their satellite reception of Turkish
television channels. Perhaps he meant that they should be grateful
that their satellites were not shot down, as one former politician
threatened to do.
No one is claiming that Chinese is spoken in Greece. That indeed would
be historically inaccurate. However, one of the lesser-used languages
in Greece is also that of its neighboring country, called (albeit with
the acronym FYROM) Macedonia. And as it happens in these cases, the
language and the country are homonymous. Likewise, our own minority
does not speak "Muslim," but rather Turkish, which is the
language of another neighboring country.
Does Mr. Xarchakos see the European Committee as a form of Intelligence
Service that monitors European citizens, recording their activities
and personal data, and for this reason he could ask it to supply him
with the names of the Greek committee members along with their precise
professions and other credentials? Does he expect a reply on the order
of "it is Mr. So-and-so, who declares himself to be a farmer,
but this credential of his is false because he is really working as
an agent of such-and-such country according to reports from our own
agents, and his sexual preference is..."?
EBLUL is involved exclusively with the project of linguistic diversity,
and advocates for the lesser-used languages of EU countries. It does
not deal with minorities, under penalty of suspension of duties. More
crucially, it does not stir up minority issues. This is what Mr. Xarchakos
is doing with his inappropriate question. We are not criticizing him
for this; we are simply noting that that it was out of order.
Mr. Xarchakos does not realize that with his stand and his words he
is causing the most unsuspicious person to suspect that that the truth
is probably the exact opposite of what he is claiming, attempting to
deny and/or wishing to put forth himself. Malicious individuals compromise
themselves when they fall into this common trap.
Greece was the last EU country to form an EBLUL commission. This delay
was due to the "particular" conditions in Greece vis-a-vis
the problems of expression of linguistic and all other aspects of cultural
diversity. The occasion arose when these "particular" conditions
indirectly led to EBLUL itself being tried before the Greek court.
Sotiris Bletsas, a Vlach-speaking Greek citizen, was tried and sentenced
to 15 months imprisonment for distributing an EBLUL pamphlet. The document
listed the lesser-spoken languages of the EU countries, mentioning
that the Vlach language (Vlachika) was spoken in Greece. He was convicted
for disseminating false information.
Several months ago, the first international EBLUL congress in Greece
took place in Thessaloniki. At the time, some 150 people at the request
of the local media had gathered outside the hotel where the events
were being held to demonstrate against the congress participants, which
included many delegates from various European organizations. Fortunately,
there was ample police presence and unpleasant incidents were averted.
The European delegates watched the goings on outside the hotel in wide-eyed
amazement. "This is the Balkans. It's no laughing matter." Stavros
Xarchakos has proved this, too.