Greek Diplomats and Members of the Greek
Parliament Lie to the Council of Europe
December 5, 2005
this page in Greek
Florina / Lerin - Surprised and bitterly disappointed, the
European Free Alliance-Rainbow recently witnessed -- through
the reports of
the Greek Helsinki
Monitor -- and for yet another time, Greek diplomats and members
of the Greek
Parliament shamelessly lying in front of an international
organization. This time it was the Parliamentary Committee
on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe,
where Greece was
reproached for the way it treats its Macedonian minority.
Our country, along with France, Turkey, Georgia and five other nations,
has not yet ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection
of National Minorities (FCNM) of the Council of Europe (acting
hypocritically, however, Greece was among the first countries
sign the FCNM back in 1997).
Greek diplomat, Mr Georgios Ayfantis, tried to justify this attitude
on the 22nd of November in Paris. Not surprisingly, he was
aided by New Democracy MPs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and Elsa
Papadimitriou as well as the guilty silence of their PASOK
colleagues, Theodoros Pangalos
and Athanassios Alevras. Among others, Mr Ayfantis made the
following "amazing" statements:
"...These people (Slavophones) are free to speak their Slavic
idiom and teach it in private schools..."
Until today, Greece's immovable position on the linguistic issue
is that the Macedonian language is "non-existent". Instead,
in the Greek province of Western Macedonia, very few elderly bilinguals
speak an "oral Slavic idiom". Perhaps Mr Ayfantis and the "luminaries" that
guide him could then explain how it is possible for an "oral
idiom" to be taught in schools and tell us how many of these
schools exist in Greece.
"...The majority of them (Slavophones) do not wish to become
a member of a minority, as being a minority member means being
With a few words the Greek diplomat succeeded in describing what
Greece has "accomplished" during the last century, regarding
the minorities in its soil. Integration through violent assimilation
or marginalization, since the people who are not "integrated" cannot
freely express their different ethnic identity or learn their mother
At the same time he indirectly admits that these "Slavophones" are
more than just a few thousand elderly people. What Mr Ayfantis didn't
explain was why Greece refuses its Macedonian and other ethnic or
linguistic groups the ability to declare their particular identity
through the official national censuses, depriving them even from
the basic right of self-identification.
"...Historically, minorities have been used to break up states
as in the case of Yugoslavia. This is why Greece does not
ratify the FCNM. If Greece were to ratify it, there would be no
for the man on the street, just more work for Greece in
the Council of Europe."
According to the official Greek position, Greece is an ethnically
and linguistically homogenous state with the exception of the so-called "Muslim" minority
in Western Thrace. Judging from Mr Ayfantis' statement, though, it
seems that this is not exactly the case since a fear of the "non-existent" minorities
is more than obvious. If Greece had no minorities, then what is the
reason for using Yugoslavia as a misleading and unfortunate example?
If we put things under the same perspective, aren't the Greek minority
schools in Southern Albania and the Greek-Orthodox minority in Turkey
(far smaller in numbers than the Macedonians in Greece) also destabilizing
factors? Yet, Greek diplomacy and politicians pledge support for
the Greek minorities' rights in neighboring countries with clarion
voice and at every opportunity.
In any case, if Greece was so afraid of suffering the same fate
as Yugoslavia, then why did so readily sign the Framework Convention
on National Minorities, yet now is refusing to ratify it? Did minorities
appear in the country only after 1997 and never exist before that
time? Or is it because ratification would mean more work for Mr Ayfantis
and his well-paid colleagues, as he so naively admitted?
"...The FCNM was a useful tool for the disintegration of
the Soviet Union and the fall of the Milosevic regime but is irrelevant
In other words, Greece signs, ratifies and implements international
conventions only when they serve Greek interests. When this is not
the case, Greece degrades, forgets and defames the conventions.
"...The few (Slavophones) who are represented by (the Macedonian
minority party) Rainbow are people who want to get secession
from Greece and join FYROM, supported by people in FYROM. "
When the total absence of arguments to justify what cannot be justified
leads to libelous imputation and defamation, the answer should be
clear. EFA-Rainbow will file a denunciative complaint against Mr
Ayfantis and his superiors. This way, they will be forced to prove
their outrageous allegations so shamelessly uttered while Greece
is continuously sitting on the "accused dock" of the international
community. They must realize, at last, that modesty, patience and
tolerance cannot be interpreted as weakness.
The Press Office of EFA -Rainbow
"Slavophones" is a widely tolerated Greek vulgarism for ethnic
"FYROM" is a temporary UN designation for the Republic of Macedonia