International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Rummelhardtg. 2/18, A-1090 Vienna, AUSTRIA
Tel. +43-1-402 73 87, 408 88 22
Fax +43-1-408 74 44
E-mail: office@ihf-hr.org
Internet: http://www.ihf-hr.org/
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OPEN LETTER

HE Theodore Pangalos
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Athens

via facsimile +30-1-36 41 469

Vienna, 25 January 1999
Dear Mr. Pangalos,

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) represents 36
independent human rights monitoring organizations in the OSCE territory. We
are writing on behalf of the Helsinki committees to express our deep
concern about statements you reportedly made in your recent trips in the
Republic of Macedonia or "FYROM", and Bulgaria, and also in Greece, in
between these two trips.

According to our information you stated in Skopje (22/12/1998) inter alia
that there is no Macedonian minority in Greece and that persons claiming
there is a Macedonian minority are "pervert intellectuals and pervert
journalists."

We have also been informed that, in a subsequent interview in
"Apogevmatini," (28/12/98) you called those in the Republic of Macedonia
claiming there is a Macedonian minority in Greece "monkeys and animals."

You also firmly denied again the existence of a Macedonian minority adding
that you forbid any discussion about it (Antenna TV, 11/1/1999).

Then in Sofia (19/1/1999) you stated that "the Greek journalists are the
worst enemies of he Greek government," when one of them asked you what was
perceived by you as an embarrassing question on Greek-Bulgarian relations.

Sir, our organization, in cooperation with our affiliate Greek Helsinki
Monitor, has worked for years to foster a constructive dialog with Greek
authorities, which we hope will lead to improved compliance with the human
rights standards to which Greece is committed.  We have worked especially
hard to build confidence between the Greek and Macedonian societies. We
have also strongly defended the freedom of expression of all, including
journalists even when they hold opinions embarrassing to the government.

We must express our profound regret in your words, which are a step
backward from social peace that is in the interests of all citizens of
Greece.  No one can accept the degradation of other persons which, in the
case of your alleged statements, sinks to the level of incitement to ethnic
hatred and might even result in physical harm to the citizens you are sworn
to represent.

Yours faithfully,
 

Ludmilla Alexeyeva Aaron Rhodes
(President) (Executive Director)
 

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Greek Helsinki Monitor &
Minority Rights Group - Greece
P.O. Box 51393
GR-14510 Kifisia
Greece
Tel. +30-1-620.01.20
Fax +30-1-807.57.67
e-mail: office@greekhelsinki.gr
http://www.greekhelsinki.gr
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