Greek government bans
Macedonian cultural centre
Athens 20/01/04, by Georgios N. Papadakis
The Greek government has taken a decision not to recognise the
formation of a local cultural centre. The Florina/Lerin Court officially
rejected the application of the local organization 'Home of Macedonian
Culture' (HMC) and refused its right to be legally recognized by the
To make this decision, taken a few days ago, the court claimed that:
'the formulation of the associations' articles is unclear and can cause
confusion regarding its real goal...The use of the term 'Macedonian culture'
intensifies this confusion by connecting this with a non-existent language,
described as 'makedonski'...The recognition of such an organization contains
a direct danger to public order and provides an opportunity for exploitation
by foreign agents, who have tried from time to time, unsuccessfully,
to fabricate a historically non-existent 'Macedonian nation'...For all
the reasons mentioned above, we reject the application.'
The decision came as a huge surprise to the founders of the HMC. Only
a few months earlier, everything seemed to be finally resolved. The former
Greek and now European Ombudsman, Prof. Nikiforos Diamantouros, had urged
the Greek authorities to recognize HMC, something that was also done
by organizations like the Council of Europe, EBLUL, Greek Helsinki Monitor
and members of the European Parliament as well. Greek officials then
assured all the above that everything had been taken into consideration
and suggested that the HMC should apply for normal recognition.
Thanassis Parissis, chairman of the European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages
(EBLUL) Committee in Greece, commented to Eurolang that the court's decision
contradicts both European laws and common sense but also violates basic
human rights. He stressed that immediate actions against the decision
will be taken at a European level, since EBLUL believes that HMC's recognition
is one of the Bureau's top priorities for the near future.
'Unfortunately, not much can be done at the moment in Greece because
the country is in the middle of a long pre-election period. As soon as
the new government is elected, though, we are going to undertake all
necessary initiatives towards HMC's proper and legal establishment',
The first attempt to establish an organization for the preservation
and support of Macedonian culture and language was recorded in 1989,
when members of the Macedonian minority in the region of Florina/Lerin
unofficially created HMC ('Dom za Makedoskata Kultura').
For more than 14 years, the Greek authorities (both administrative and
judicial) have successfully blocked HMC's recognition, mostly without
proper justification. Even the members of the Florina/Lerin Bar Association
were negative, very reluctant or asked unusually high fees to support
HMC' s application before court, something which is obligatory in order
to be legal.
HMC's application for official recognition also took over three months
to process, a long delay in Greek terms. (Eurolang)