Greek Journalists Guilty of Defaming Vlach Language
Saturday, 10 December
by Georgios N. Papadakis
read this page in Macedonian
Last Tuesday an Athens court found three Greek journalists
guilty for 'revilement', a slightly lesser charge than libel
under Greek law. They are the publisher Dimitris Rizos, director
G. Bertsos and
editor-in-chief K. Sarrikostas of the daily newspaper Adesmeftos
Typos. It followed a successful lawsuit filed by vice president
of EBLUL's Greek Member State Committee, native Vlach / Aromanian
The initial charges against the three journalists were libel and revilement
but because of a new law implemented in July 2005, libel was commuted
Additionally, because the offending article was written in September
2004, therefore before July 2005, there was no custodial sentence for
the defendants that would have led, in similar cases, to one year's
The anonymous newspaper article contained various libellous allegations
against Bletsas, a well-known activist on linguistic diversity issues
in Greece and abroad. He was characterized as a "pro-Skopjan agent
who...provocatively spreads propaganda for non-existent, so-called minority
languages in Greece ...and was convicted for it in the past".
Members of the Greek Parliament belonging to Nea Dimokratia (the ruling
Conservative party) were present at court to defend Rizos, Bertsos and
Sarrikostas. According to MP Katerina Papakosta's testimony, there was
no evidence to prove that the allegations in the article were directed
specifically against Mr. Bletsas.
Another parliamentarian, Vyron Polydoras claimed that he is in favour
of protecting the Aromanian (Vlach) language, and had signed the 1333
Recommendation of the Council of Europe in 1997, but only as long as
the language did not harm Greek national interests.
The third MP that testified, Evgenios Haitidis, is the one that initially
brought Bletsas to court for distributing EBLUL leaflets in 1995.
Mr Bletsas was found innocent and has since filed a compensational
lawsuit against Haitidis that will go to retrial in early 2007.
Right after the court's decision Mr Bletsas told Eurolang that even
without fines it will be a "good lesson" for anybody that
tries to defame minority rights activists in the future.
He also urged the Greek government to "co-operate with EBLUL in
order to save and promote minority languages" that are threatened
Minority languages in Greece include Aromanian (Vlach), Macedonian,
Pomak, Arvanite, Romani and Turkish. Only Turkish is currently being
taught at minority schools in western Thrace. (Eurolang (c) 2005)