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ΕFA-Rainbow supports the right of the Catalan people to decide on their future and joins the EFA campaign "Catalonia decides"
A selection of Macedonian blogs in Greece
Aegean Macedonian Culture
Anti-macedonian policy during the elections for the European Parliament against Rainbow by the Greek state and the Greek mass media
A scandal by the Parliamentary committee
Greek TV stations sabotage EFA-Raibow
Ultra-nationalists want "borders with Serbia"!
"Hellenic Post" sabbotages EFA-Rainbow Campaign
Typical example of censorship of Rainbow
Attack of the Greek Neo-nazi party
A Greek - Macedonian dictionary by Vasko Karatza printed with the support of EFA - Rainbow
"Extracts of Letters"
Τι έλεγε κάποτε το ΚΚΕ για τους Μακεδόνες
Denying Ethnic Identity:
The Macedonians of Greece, by Human Rights Watch
Linguistics and politics II:
Greece's stance towards
its Macedonian minority
and the neighbouring
Republic of Macedonia.
and Omitted Truths
R. Nikovski: Memorandum to the European Parliament
Facts behind the Greek politics towards Macedonia
"Proposed disciplinary measures to stamp out the Macedonian minority in Greece by the National Security Service"
Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee
A brief review of ECRI’s fourth report on Greece
17 September, 2009
On 15 September 2009, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) released its fourth monitoring report on Greece. The report is dated as covering the situation in Greece up to 2 April 2009. The findings of the report cannot be ignored or dismissed as insignificant for ECRI was established by the Council of Europe and is an “independent human rights monitoring body specialised in questions relating to racism and intolerance.” Moreover it is “composed of independent and impartial members, who are appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognised expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance.”The Council of Europe is increasingly becoming an authoritative and persuasive institution within Europe, especially given its ability to stigmatise member states. As in ECRI’s previous report on Greece, the current one strongly recommends that the Greek authorities ratify as soon as possible the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, as well as the revised European Social Charter, the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers and the European Convention on Nationality. It also recommends that Greece sign and ratify the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
In its latest report, ECRI has noted that Greece continues to discriminate against its ethnic minorities and to severely limit the rights to freedom of association and expression of its Macedonian and Turkish minorities.In particular, the ECRI report makes the following findings and recommendations in relation to Greece’s mistreatment of its Macedonian and Turkish minorities:
Macedonians and other minority groups
111. In its third report, ECRI encouraged the Greek authorities to take further steps toward the recognition of the freedom of association and expression of members of the Macedonian and Turkish communities living in Greece. It welcomed the gesture of reconciliation made by the Greek authorities towards the ethnic Macedonian refugees from the civil war, and strongly encouraged them to proceed further in this direction in a non-discriminatory way. ECRI also recommended that the Greek authorities closely examine allegations of discrimination and intolerant acts against Macedonians, Turks and others, and, if appropriate, take measures to punish such acts.
112. The situation of the recognition of the right to freedom of association as concerns certain groups living in Greece (Macedonians75 and Turks76) remains. In this regard, since ECRI’s third report, the European Court of Human Rights has rendered three judgements against Greece for violating Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of assembly and association) as concerns members of the ethnic Turk community. Concerning ethnic Macedonians and the judgement of Sidiropoulos and Others v. Greece mentioned in its third report, ECRI was informed that the issue of the registration of the organisation in question (the Home of the Macedonian Culture) is pending before the Supreme Court as it has not yet been registered. It further appears that the ethnic Turkish organisations which were the subject of the abovementioned judgments have not been registered either. ECRI wishes in this regard to bring to the Greek authorities’ attention the European Court of Human Rights’ finding that associations seeking an ethnic identity were also important to the proper functioning of democracy. It considered that pluralism was also built on the genuine recognition of, and respect for, diversity and the dynamics of, inter alia, cultural traditions, ethnic and cultural identities and religious beliefs.
113. ECRI notes that progress still has to be made on the recognition of the right of members of minority groups to freedom of association and also freedom of expression.
114. Civil society actors and representatives of the Macedonian community have indicated to ECRI that the implementation of 80 measures of reconciliation taken for those who fled the Greek civil war as concerns the reinstatement of their citizenship and the return of their confiscated property continues to apply only to ethnic Greeks. Representatives of the Macedonian community have further expressed their feelings of discrimination, inter alia, as concerns the use of their names in their own language and failure to bring cases of hate speech in the media against Macedonians to court81. Representatives of the Turkish community in Western Thrace have also stated that recognition of their identity is among the most important problems they face along with education and the right to religious freedom, which have been discussed in other parts of this report.
115. ECRI strongly recommends that the Greek authorities take measures to recognize the rights of the members of the different groups living in Greece, including to freedom of association, in full compliance with the relevant judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.
116. ECRI recommends again that the Greek authorities take steps to apply, in a non-discriminatory manner, the measures of reconciliation taken for all those who fled the civil war.
117. ECRI recommends that the Greek authorities investigate allegations of discrimination against members of the Macedonian and Turkish communities and take adequate measures to address them, including by ensuring the implementation of the relevant legislation where necessary. ECRI also strongly recommends that the Greek authorities take steps to recognize the right to self identification of these groups.
118. In its third report, ECRI strongly recommended that the Greek authorities open a dialogue with Macedonians representatives to find a solution to the tensions between this group and the authorities, as well as between it and the population at large, so that co-existence with mutual respect may be achieved in everyone’s interests.
119. Representatives of the Macedonian community have indicated that their attempts to engage in a dialogue with the Greek authorities, on issues such as language and the use of the Macedonian language on television have not been fruitful. ECRI thus hopes that the authorities will engage in an open and constructive dialogue with representatives of the Macedonian community on issues of concern to members of this group.
120. ECRI recommends again that the Greek authorities establish a dialogue with Macedonian representatives in order to find a solution to the issues affecting members of this group.
Unfortunately, the Greek government’s response to ECRI’s criticisms of Greece’s mistreatment of its Macedonian, Turkish and other ethnic and religious minorities which is appended at the end of the report, indicates once again that Greece does not take its human rights obligations seriously and it remains mired in an anachronistic ethno-chauvinism which does not allow it to even admit to the existence of a distinct Macedonian ethnicity and identity in Greece.
Greece’s response on this issue, which is cited below, confirms once again that it is determined to continue to ignore the rights of its Macedonian minority in pursuit of a doctrine of national security predicated upon forced assimilation and spurious claims of ethnic homogeneity:
With respect to the references to ‘’Macedonian’’ community and language (paras. 111-120), we would like to stress that a small number of people in Greek Macedonia, mainly in the prefecture of Florina, apart from Greek, speak a Slavic dialect, which is confined to family or colloquial use. This dialect has similarities with the language spoken by the Slav-Macedonians in the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Cross-border contacts, such as tourism and trade, keep this dialect alive, as is the case with the Greek language spoken in the southern part of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. All people in Greece speaking this dialect are bilingual (Slavic/Greek).
Subjective claims or perceptions of some of the above-mentioned individuals, which are not based on objective facts and criteria, that they are ethnically “Macedonians” do not establish by themselves a corresponding obligation of Greece to officially recognize this group as a ≪minority≫ and to guarantee to its members specific minority rights, additional to those guaranteed by human rights treaties. Moreover, the use on their behalf of the term “Macedonian” in order to define a distinct ethnicity creates confusion with the 2,5 million Greeks who identify themselves as Macedonians in the regional/cultural sense.
In any case, in Greece, even if a group is not recognised as a minority enjoying specific minority rights, individuals are free to declare that they belong to a distinct ethnic or cultural group, without any negative consequences resulting from such a statement. In addition, these persons enjoy fully all their civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, which are recognized by the provisions of national and international law. Both the judiciary and the administration are obliged to implement these provisions. Persons who consider that their rights are being violated can bring their case before the Greek courts and also have the possibility to appeal to the competent international bodies, as provided for by the relevant treaties binding Greece.
A couple of examples prove the above mentioned affirmations:
- There is a political party in Greece, which claims to represent the “Macedonian minority”. This party operates freely and participates without any impediments in the elections. One of the leading figures of the party is a civil servant, working for the Greek State, regardless of his political activities and views.
- There are regular cultural events and festivities organised by the Slav-speaking persons in the region of Florina, where everyone is free to participate, including nationals of the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
In conclusion, all persons residing in Greece, regardless of their nationality, ethic origin, language, religious or political affiliation enjoy full protection of their human rights and liberties. Everyone is free to declare his/her origin, speak his/her language, exercise his/her religion and observe his/her particular customs and traditions.
Finally, with regard to the implementation of measures of reconciliation, the Greek State, in order to definitely heal the wounds of the Civil War, proceeded to the reinstatement of the citizenship and the return of confiscated property of persons of Greek origin who had fled the country after this traumatic historical experience. However, all individuals, irrespective of their ethnic origin, have the possibility to bring before Greek courts any claims regarding property or other issues, under the general provisions of law.
The Greek response is disingenuous to say the least and a flagrant example of its determination to continue its policies of denial and discrimination vis-a- vis its Macedonian and other minorities.
It is simply false to state that there is no ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece. This minority has been studied by Western and Greek anthropologists and their plight has been reported on by various other institutions, apart from ECRI–e.g. Helsinki Watch, the OSCE, The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 2009) and even NGOs within Greece itself such as the Greek Helsinki Monitor. Most of all however, the ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece, has its own political party, the European Free Alliance - Rainbow (Vinozito in Macedonian) - which contests elections in Greece despite the fact that it is subjected to frequent harassment, media boycotts and highly tendentious reporting of its policies and leadership. Its offices in the town of Florina/Lerin were firebombed by extreme nationalist Greeks in September 1995. It must also be added that this party was only registered in 1995 after heavy pressure from within the EU. It is also rather ridiculous for the Greek authorities to claim that the use of the “Slavic Dialect,” that is of Macedonian, is “kept alive” by “tourism and trade” if, as the Greek response also explains, it is used within the family! Of course if Greece fulfilled its obligations, then it would also be used on television, radio and the print media etc.
“Subjective claims or perceptions of some of the above-mentioned individuals, which are not based on objective facts and criteria, that they are ethnically “Macedonians” do not establish by themselves a corresponding obligation of Greece to officially recognize this group as a ≪minority≫ and to guarantee to its members specific minority rights, additional to those guaranteed by human rights treaties”
is a direct admission by the Greek authorities that it does not respect the principle of self-identification as one of the cornerstones of ethnic identity and that it is prepared to continue violating the criteria adopted at the Copenhagen CSCE Conference on the Human Dimension in June 1990 which states at article 32, Part 4 of the Final Document which was signed by Greece that
“to belong to a national minority is a matter of a person’s individual choice and no disadvantage may arise from the exercise of such choice”
. When the Greek state speaks of “objective facts and criteria” in determining when a group of people constitute a minority, it is obvious that the objective facts and criteria used in such an assessment are those dictated by its obscurantist and nationalistic views. Identity is a matter of choice and this is the only relevant “objective” criteria.
The fact that Greece is still refusing to face up to its responsibilities in regard to the Macedonian minority is made clear in the following statement contained in its response:
“Moreover, the use on their behalf of the term “Macedonian” in order to define a distinct ethnicity creates confusion with the 2.5 million Greeks who identify themselves as Macedonians in the regional/cultural sense.”
One needs to here ask, that if the identity “Macedonian” is so important to the
“2.5 million Greeks who identify themselves as “Macedonians” in the regional/cultural sense”
, why did the Greek state never prior to 1988 choose to refer officially at ministerial level to this region as Macedonia? In fact the preceding official name had been “Northern Greece”. The fact is, there is much evidence to suggest that this “Greek Macedonian” identity ‘emerged’ in the late 1980s (in conjunction with the re-naming of “Northern Greece”) and 1990s, precisely so that it could be used in the manner in which it is being here used. That is as a way of confusing the issue in regards to the rights of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece and as a way of blocking the recognition of the newly independent Republic of Macedonia. Moreover prior to the late 1980s the use of the term Macedonian as an identifier was a taboo that got one labelled a ‘communist’, ‘traitor’, and ‘secessionist’ etc… And as we noted in our discussion of the last ECRI report on Greece, no one is preventing Greeks from using the term “Greek Macedonian”, it is only ethnic Macedonians who are being suppressed. And since all Greeks are ethnic Greeks, there can be no confusion, for adding the word Macedonian to their Greek ethnicity can only be considered a further regional-cultural corrective. On the other hand, for ethnic Macedonians, the word Macedonian is the essential basis of their identity – they are Greeks only in the citizenship sense, not ethno-culturally.
“In conclusion, all persons residing in Greece, regardless of their nationality, ethnic origin, language, religious or political affiliation enjoy full protection of their human rights and liberties. Everyone is free to declare his/her origin, speak his/her language, exercise his/her religion and observe his/her particular customs and traditions.”
is patently untrue. The basic human, social, cultural and economic rights of ethnic Macedonians are clearly not respected. Macedonians’ self-identification as ethnic Macedonians is not respected at any level of Greek society. Macedonians are prohibited from forming associations or cultural groups which contain the word Macedonian (for example the Home of Macedonian Culture), there is no education at any level in the Macedonian language, no radio or television programs in Macedonian and those Macedonians who openly manifest their Macedonian identity encounter discrimination in employment and education. Macedonian personal and surnames - which have been Hellenized in order to facilitate assimilation - cannot be used officially by Macedonians. There is no support at all from the Greek state for Macedonian cultural and artistic activities.
The Greek response relating to the restitution of the property and citizenship rights of those who fled the country during the Civil War from 1946-49 conveniently omits to mention that the relevant laws regulating these matters (December 1982 Citizenship Law and Law 1540/85) are highly discriminatory and extend these rights only to those who are
“Greek by genus”
(ethnic Greeks) or who are willing to declare themselves ethnic Greeks. As indicated by Human Rights Watch in its report on the ethnic Macedonians of Greece in 1994:
“Human Rights Watch has been unable to obtain accurate figures on the number of people ‘of Greek origin’ who availed themselves of the 1982 law, but the number is in the thousands. Those who considered themselves Macedonians, although born in Greece, or children of parents born in Greece, were not permitted to return, even, for the most part, to visit. ... To this day, ethnic Macedonian families are divided...”
by the Greek authorities (Human Rights Watch, 1994: 9-10). At present, such individuals are preparing a legal challenge to have their Greek citizenship restored and property returned.
The Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee welcomes this latest ECRI report on Greece, however we remain seriously concerned that Greece continues to deny ethnic Macedonians and other minorities their most basic rights. It is highly indicative of the Greek state’s attitude that despite ECRI’s clear recommendations that it address discrimination against Macedonians and enter into dialogue with Macedonians in order to ensure that their basic rights are respected, Greece continues to thumb its nose at the Council of Europe and has declared its preparedness to continue its policies of denial of ethnic Macedonians. The question for European institutions is how long are they prepared to permit Greece to continue ignoring basic human rights requirements?
Formed in 1984 the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is an Australian based non government organisation that informs and advocates to governments, international institutions and broader communities about combating discrimination and promoting basic human rights. The aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities in Australia and throughout the world are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment.
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Γιατί να ψηφίσω
την ΕΕΣ-Ουράνιο Τόξο
to read the Abecedar!
Promotion of the
Primer at the OSCE HDIM
Greek irredentism and expansionism officially sanctioned by the Greek Parliament
Letter to Carla del Ponte,
Chief Prosecutor for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
The Yugoslavian Crisis
Document of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs
Related to the article - The obvious linguistic particularity - Eletherotypia, 18/11/2006
The ten Greek myths
on the “Macedonian issue”
By IOS team – Eletherotypia, 23/10/2005
Who says there are no
minority languages in Greece?
The "secret" census
in north Greece, in 1920
Map showing the Cultures and Languages in the E.U.
Council of Europe
Framework convention for the Protection of national minorities
Συνέντευξη: Ευάγγελος Κωφός, Έλληνας ιστορικός
Δημοκρατία της Μακεδονίας - Σκόπια είναι όνομα που εκφράζει την ταυτότητά σας
Ο Παύλος Φιλίποβ Βοσκόπουλος απαντά στον Ευάγγελο Κωφό.
«Το Μακεδονικό ζήτημα είναι η αχίλλειος πτέρνα του ελληνικού μύθου».
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