EBLUL Report on the Case of the "Home of Macedonian Culture"
January 14, 2004
GREEK MEMBER STATE COMMITTEE OF EBLUL
(European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages)
Naoussa Mazaraki 7a TK 59200 Greece
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
tel. +30 69 72 84 4 412
Report on the Case of the "Home of Macedonian
On January 19, 1990, a group of 21 individuals from the prefecture
of Florina, in Northern Greece, submitted an application to
register an association called the Home of Macedonian Culture.
On March 19, 1990, the Court of First Instance, in Florina,
refused the association's application for registration on the
basis of its memorandum of association. This clause stated
that the organization wished to preserve the territorial integrity
and the national independence of Greece as well as to promote
human rights in Greece.
The court stated that it was not within the jurisdiction of
any organization to defend the territorial integrity or human
rights of Greece. The court claimed that because this was included
in clause 2 of the memorandum of association it was "proof" that
this organization had "ulterior motives". The court
stated that human rights involved all of the people of Greece
whose voice was already represented by the parliament and was
implemented by the government on the basis of articles in the
What the court neglected to mention, however, was that the
items present in clause 2 of the memorandum of association
were a carbon copy of those found in the clauses of hundreds
of other organizations that were already registered and approved
by the very same court.
On June 12, 1990, a new application for registration was submitted
to the Court of First Instance, in Florina. This time the contentious
statements from clause 2 of the memorandum of association were
On August 9, 1990, the court again refused the organization's
application for registration.
The reasons for the second denial of registration where, that
some of the founding members had participated in an OSCE conference
on human rights in Copenhagen. At that conference, on June
9, they acknowledged they had a Macedonian national consciousness
and made statements about a Macedonian national minority in
Greece, which they considered to be oppressed. And, because
sixteen members of the association had supported the OSCE trip,
they were considered by the court as co-conspirators along
with those who actually went to Copenhagen to discuss the human
rights problems in Greece.
On September 7, 1990, the members appealed their case to the
Appellate Court of Salonica.
The Appellate Court of Salonica, on May 8, 1991, upheld the
judgment of the court of First Instance. The appellate court
claimed the motives of the organization were against the "national
interests" and "territorial integrity" of Greece.
On a remarkable basis the application was rejected.
On June 20, 1991, the case was appealed to the Supreme Court
On May 16, 1994, the Greek Supreme Court denied the registration
and upheld the arguments of the previous courts.
After that on May 29, 1997, seven members of the Macedonian
Home of Culture took the case to the European Commission on
Human Rights. The Commission determined that the case had merit
and referred it to the European Court of Human Rights.
On July 10, 1998, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously
found Greece in violation of Article 11 as relates to the rights
to freedom of association of its citizens.
Between March 1998, and April 2000, the "association" contacted
various lawyers at the Florina Bar Association so as to find
someone willing to process the association's registration in
the Florina Court of First Instance. All of them, including
the lawyer who processed the initial registration in the early
1990s, refused to take up the case.
The "Home of Macedonian Culture" was not able to
submit a registration for over three years. All the lawyers
in Florina (where the "Home" has its seat) repeatedly
refused to take up the case. The court twice refused the association's
request to appoint a lawyer, despite Greece's report to the
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe indicating
that the courts had been instructed to execute the judgment,
and the Ombudsman's written opinion that there is "enough
evidence that 'no lawyer is found' ". It was only following
sustained pressure by the Greek Ombudsman that things appeared
to change in early 2002.
On February 28, 2002, Florina's bar association appointed
On July 7, 2003, a new application for registration was submitted
to the Court of First Instance in Florina, in accordance with
the instructions of the European Court of Human Rights.
On December 19, 2003, the application was again rejected.
The reason given by the court was the non-existence of a Macedonian
language, a Macedonian culture and a Macedonian nation.
President of the Greek Member State Committee of EBLUL