Minority Rights Case Study: Macedonians in Greece

Zhidas Daskalovski 

Upsurge of nationalism in Eastern Europe after the revolutionary changes in 1989-1990 has provoked a debate over minority and human rights issues. Some political scientists and especially Western based journalists and media have pointed out that Western World’s practices dealing with minority issues are fundamentally different from those of the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe. They have stressed that unlike the Western World’s civic notion of national identity, Eastern Europeans have based their nationality on ethnicity, potentially dangerous form of sentiments. Will Kymlika, however, has rebuked this myth underlining the fact that both Western, as well as Eastern European states engage in essentially the same type of nation building process that includes state implementation of an official language in public administration and education, specific naturalization policies, etc. Kymlika has emphasized the need for the recognition of minority rights and the implementation of new models of ethnocultural justice. In order to examine whether a state pursuits liberal policies in its nation building process, and promotes ethnocultural justice, Kymlika has devised a detailed list of liberal and iliberal nation building practices. If the check list is applied to real cases one can see in which areas a given states pursues more liberal policies and in which it follows illiberal course. In my paper I will first present Kymlika’s itemized index of nation building policies, and then apply to it the case study of the Macedonian minority in Greece. My aim is to find out what kind of policies has the Greek state implemented in its nation building, examine how they have affected the Macedonian minority in this country, and see what kind of responses they have incited. Thus my paper will outline both the Greek official attitudes toward the Macedonian minority and the responses of the latter to the Greek nation building.

According to Kymlika liberal states should use a relatively low level of coercion promoting a common national identity. Thus, liberal states may not provide public funds for minority language schools but they should not forbid existence of privately funded minority schools. Secondly, Kymlika notes that a liberal state has a restricted notion of the public space, thus giving the possibility of wide range minority activities in the private sphere of life. Thus, a state may insists that the majority language is used exclusively in the parliament but it would not ask minority union meetings or their weddings to be conducted in the official language. Thirdly, liberal states should allow individuals or political parties who challenge the ‘official’ national identity to run and hold office if elected. As Kymlika writes, "advocating such changes is not seen as disloyalty, or even if it is seen as disloyal, this is not viewed as sufficient grounds for restricting democratic rights."

Furthermore, Kymlika states that a typical liberal country has a more open definition of a national community. Opposed to the ‘blood and soil’ principle for granting citizenship, liberal states allow integration of members of other races, ethnicities and religions to the national community. As a result of this inclusiveness, liberal states have a loose conception of citizenship centered usually on the shared language used in wide range of societal institutions (schools, media, law, government, economy and so on). The nation is understood not as the supreme value for individuals but merely as an instrumental value for promoting individual interests. Liberal nations are ready to learn and adopt from other cultures, they do not fear interaction with other states and nations. Moreover, liberal states accept the concept of dual national identity. Therefore they would allow celebrations of holidays by members of the nation who do not belong to the majority ethnicity. Finally, and most importantly, liberal states let the national minorities engage in their own process of nation building that might include the right for self government and, under certain circumstances, federal status. Consequently, minorities in a liberal state that are faced with the nation building process by the majority nation, opt either for integration into the majority culture or for self government rights. Very rarely they choose the third basic option of self isolation and marginalization.

At this moment I will turn to my case study; first I will very generally outline the issue by presenting historical data and then turn to the actual topic of discussion minority rights and il(liberal) nation building policies. The Balkan Wars (1912-1913) marked the end of the Ottoman empire and the "liberation" of Macedonia. This liberation resulted in the partition of Macedonia among Serbia (Vardar Macedonia), Bulgaria (Pirin Macedonia) and Greece (Aegean Macedonia). After the First Word War and the 1919 Versailles Treaty, which only reaffirmed the new territorial divisions of Macedonia, all three Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria, began a process of forceful assimilation that can be only ascribed in the terms of ethnic and cultural genocide. The methods of all three states were more or less similar, but it seems that Greece was the most successful in its "governmentally sponsored nation building activities". Forced education in Greek language, raping, killing, exodus, in short physical and psychological terror; characterize best the situation of the ethnic Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia in the following decades. Today, new term has entered the international political vocabulary linked to the recent war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that is, ethnic cleansing. United Nations define ethnic cleansing as systematic elimination by the ethnic group exercising control over a given territory of members of other groups. However, only the term is new, all the rest was invented in the beginning of this century in Macedonia. In other words, not only Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria wanted to assimilate ethnic Macedonians but they also wanted to destroy any cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic legacy of Macedonians that lived there.

History of the Problem

Given time constraints, this paper will only concentrate on the Greek ‘nation building policies’ in Aegean Macedonia. The ethnic map of Macedonia was significantly changed in 1919 when Greece and Bulgaria signed a convention for ‘exchange of populations’. As a result, around 60,000 Macedonians "voluntarily" left Greece and settled in Bulgaria. Soon after, in 1924, a similar convention was signed between Greece and Turkey. While 40,000 Macedonians, together with around 300,000 Turks, left Greece, around 700,000 Greeks from Turkey, permanently settled in Aegean Macedonia. The result of this shift of populations was disastrous for Macedonians; they became a minority in the region where before the Balkan Wars they were majority of the population. Therefore, in the initial years of rule over Aegean Macedonia, Greek government has applied unjust practices as regards nation building and protection of minority rights are concerned; namely, Greece has systematically engaged in a policy of settling ethnic Greeks into the historic territory of the Macedonian minority while ‘persuading’ members of the Macedonian community to leave their homeland. Although Greece had a legal right to pursue such policies, still as Kymlika argues the deliberate and large scale settlements of immigrants into the historic territory of the minority is a grave injustice.

Between World Wars I and II, Macedonians were subject of violent campaign of assimilation and denationalization. During the interwar period Greece declined to recognize Macedonians as a national minority, Macedonians were labeled as Greeks who spoke Slavic. The aim of this policy was to ‘Hellenise’, i.e. make Greek, Aegean Macedonia by erasing the cultural and national heritage of the Macedonians and by moulding the Macedonian identity into Greek one. Place names (all names of cities, towns, and villages) were changed from Macedonian to Greek (1926) and all Old Slavic inscriptions from churches were erased (1927) while the use of Macedonian was also strictly prohibited. In 1929 a legal Act was issued On the Protection of Public Order, whereby each demand for nationality rights was regarded as high treason. Thus, Macedonians who demanded minority status could be legally imprisoned.

The illiberal policy of the Greek government reached its climax under the Metaxas monarchist-fascist dictatorship (1936-1941) when even the private use of Macedonian language was forbidden. Defiance of this ban produced Draconian measures, where a great numbers of Macedonians were convicted and deported to desolate Greek islands. While evening schools were opened in which adult Macedonians were taught Greek, ethnic Macedonian localities were flooded with posters that read "speak Greek". Even more, a law that was adopted in 1936 forced Macedonians to change their personal names into the Greek ones. Thus, Jovan Filipov, became Yannis Fillipidis, and Lena Stoikov became Elena Stoikou. As we can see, in the interwar period Greece applied remarkably illiberal policies vis-a-vis its Macedonian minority- not only Macedonians were denied recognition, even worse, they were forcefully being Hellenized, i.e., forced to change their names and learn Greek, while being prohibited to use Macedonian even in the realm of their homes.

During World War Two, in a partisan struggle, ethnic Macedonians in Vardar Macedonia won the right for a free federate republic within the framework of the Yugoslav federation. The creation of the Yugoslav Socialist Republic of Macedonia also had large influence on the Macedonians who lived in Greece. Toward the end of World War II, Aegean Macedonians formed the Slav National Liberation Front (SNOF) which joined the Greek communist forces in order to resist the fascist occupation of Aegean Macedonia. However, during the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) fought between the forces of the right wing- monarchist Greek government, and the communist Democratic Army of Greece (DAG), most of the Macedonians joined the latter. In April 1945, Aegean Macedonians formed the National Liberation Front (NOF), Macedonian political organization that was one year later integrated into the DAG. In order to attract Macedonians to fight on their side, the Greek communists guaranteed ethnic Macedonians a minority status and promised them a large autonomy of Aegean Macedonia within the auspices of a Greek communist state. However, in 1949 DAG forces were defeated and a new exodus of Macedonians from Greece followed. The number of those who fled is estimated at 100,000 including 28,000 children. In fact, the victory of the Greek monarchists meant that Macedonians in Greece would remain unrecognized as a minority group. Moreover, in 1947, the Greek government adopted a law that deprived all those who that had fought against the government in the Civil War, thus including many ethnic Macedonians, from their citizenship and their property.

Immediately after the end of the civil war Greek authorities attempted to assimilate those ethnic Macedonians who remained in Greece. In the 1950’s, the state opened many kindergartens in the mostly Macedonian populated, Florina district, where the Macedonian children were instructed only in Greek and not in Macedonian. In addition, the ‘best and the brightest’ Macedonian pupils were -and have since been- sent to boarding schools far away from their places of origin in Aegean Macedonia. Furthermore, ethnic Macedonians could hardly find a job in the civil sector and their children were, reportedly, being discouraged from having a complete secondary education. In 1959 Greece went so far in its illiberal treatment of the Macedonian minority as to pressure ethnic Macedonian villages to stage public swearing-in ceremonies in which they pledged never to use again the Macedonian language. During the military dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974), many Macedonian villages near the border had been considered as a restricted zone, where the movement of the citizens to and out of that zone was controlled by the authorities In this period Greek officials "resettled in Macedonian-populated areas many Greeks with ‘healthy national consciousness’ often giving them the property of the Macedonians who had fled the country".

Moreover, in 1962 the legal Act 4234 was issued which stipulated that persons who were stripped of their Greek citizenship were banned from returning to Greece. In 1969 a legal Act was issued to allow the settlement by ethnic Greeks of Macedonian property left behind. The situation in Aegean Macedonia in the following years was characterized by oppression of the ethnic Macedonians on all levels. Since Macedonians were denied recognition, all their basic human rights were restricted to them. This situation forced many Macedonians to emigrate from Greece to Australia and Canada. In 1982, Greece adopted a law that allows return to Greece of all political refuges from the Civil War except those who are not "Greeks by genus" (i.e. of Greek origin). Therefore, those refugees who were not Greek by origin, that is the Macedonians, were not allowed to return. In addition "[s]uccessive Greek governments have claimed that these people

are agents deeply involved with ‘Skopjan’[Republic of Macedonia, that is] anti-Greek propaganda activities." Until early 1980’s Macedonians have also been discriminated against in the hiring in the public sector. A leaked secret National Security Service memorandum of 16/2/1982 (reg. no. 6502/7-50428), at the hands of GHM and MRG-Greece, recommended, besides the non-return of the Macedonian political refugees, also the hiring of non-Macedonian-speakers in the civil service and, ‘especially’ in schools. Although to a lesser extent, the discrimination of ethnic Macedonians in the public sector is still present. In 1985, law was adopted enabling the political refuges to reclaim their property, and again, Macedonians were excluded on the basis that they are not Greek. Today, those Macedonians who are born in Greece and live in other countries can not even travel in Greece and visit their relatives. After the Greek Civil War, around 100,000 Macedonians fled the country. The estimated number of Macedonians that stayed in the country was 200,000. However, the last Greek census (1951) that listed ‘Slav speakers’, i.e., Macedonians gave a number of 41,000 Macedonians in Greece. Even today the Greek government denies the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece. Human Rights activists project their number to be 200,000 while the United States Department of State gives of estimates around 50,000 Macedonians that still live in Greece. All this facts document that, in the period after the Second World War, Greece has continued with the practice of pursuing illiberal nation building policies vis-a-vis ethnic Macedonians.

Recent Developments

The Greek government official stance towards all its minorities can be simply summarized in one sentence: "In Greece there is only one minority recognized by international treaty, it is a religious minority, the Muslims of Thrace, it is blossoming enjoying its full rights, and makes up some 1.5 per cent of the total population." In 1993, the then prime minister of Greece Constantine Mitsotakis, in an interview to the Greek Newspaper Economicos Tachydromos stated that there were no Macedonians in Greece:

"Show me where this minority is. There are bilingual Greeks;

maybe some very few[among them] do not have a Greek national

consciousness. [But] no one speaks any more officially about a

Macedonian minority."

Moreover, speaking about the Greek Macedonian diplomatic relations Mr. Mitsotakis admitted even more explicitly that the real problem with the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia was the implicit admission that a respective minority existed in Greece

:"I understood the Skopje issue from the very beginning in its real dimension.

…The problem for me was to avoid the emergence of a second minority problem

in Western Macedonia. (...) For me, the aim had always been that that Republic

should clearly state that there is no Slavomacedonian minority in Greece and

to commit itself through international treaties to stop all irredentist propaganda

against Greece. That was they key in the Greek-Skopjan [Macedonian] dispute."

From these Greek official attitude one can discern the position of Macedonians in Greece- according to the Greek government they simply do not exist. Greece admits that in Aegean Macedonia there are people who are different, and but they are continuously regarded as a ‘Slavophone Hellenes with a Greek national consciousness’, who beside the Greek language also speak some ‘Slavic idiom’. Thus, Macedonians are denied even the right to freely express themselves as Macedonians, and if they do, they are prosecuted. Although officially it does not recognize the existence of the Macedonians, or for that matter the existence of any other ethnic minority, Greece still continues with its assimilatory strategy. Thus, for example, in 1987 all parents in Aegean Macedonia were obliged to send their 2 and 3 year old children to "integrated kindergartens." The aim was obvious- to prevent Macedonian children from learning the Macedonian language and culture at home. This ruling was not implemented elsewhere in Greece.

Minority Responses

Due to the ruthless nature of the Greek nation building process, ethnic Macedonians have recently mobilized in defense of their rights. Today there are several Macedonian organizations in Greece that fight for the preservation and promotion of Macedonian identity and culture (Rainbow political party; Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Greece; Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity). All these organizations demand recognition of the Macedonian minority in Greece and protection of its minority rights. Macedonian activists have never raised sensitive issues like autonomy or secession; on the contrary, the Macedonian Human Rights Movement, in a 20/7/1993 letter to the Prime Minister asking for a treatment of the Macedonians in Greece similar to the one the Prime Minister had just claimed from the Albanian authorities for the Greeks in Albania, stated clearly that the Macedonians are "an inseparable part of Greece (...) an ethnic Macedonian minority which is a constituent element of the Greek state." Kosta Gotsis, a member of the Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity, summarized the demands of the Macedonian minority in a statement given to the Human Rights Watch/Helsinki fact-finding mission in 1994:

"We want all the rights of people who have their own

identity and culture, according to CSCE declarations, we are entitled

to these rights. One of the most important of these is the right to have

our children educated in their mother tongue. It’s very important to save

the language. We don’t care whether all the subjects are taught in

Macedonian or there is just one hour a day of instruction in

Macedonian-we don’t want a utopia. If we are allowed to establish private

schools that teach in Macedonian, that’s okay. If the Greek

government provides one or two hours of instruction in Macedonian,

that’s okay." "Right now we can’t get permission to teach a class

in Macedonian, because, according to the Greek government, the language

doesn’t exist. To set up a school teaching a foreign language, you need a

license and a certificate. But since the government says the Macedonian

language doesn’t exist, they won’t give anyone a license to teach it."

In the past years, however, the activities of Macedonian minority organizations have been constrained by Greek authorities.

Greek Government Reactions to the Minority Demands

Macedonian human and minority rights movements have been actively campaigning to persuade the Greek government and the international community to recognize the existence of the Macedonian minority in Greece, and acknowledge their basic human and minority rights. However, the Greek government has not only failed to hear the pleas of Macedonian human right activists who fight for recognition of the Macedonian minority and improvement of its status, but even worse, it has harassed them. In June 1990 at the Copenhagen Conference on Human Rights (CHD), an Aegean Macedonian Human Rights delegation spoke openly about the situation of the Macedonian minority in Greece. Upon their return to Greece, two Macedonian human rights campaigners from Aegean Macedonia experienced official State harassment. One, Hristo Sideropoulos, was transferred through his work to Kefalonia, several hundred miles from his homeplace. The other participant, Stavros Anastasiadis, was conferred discriminatory tax penalties and dismissed from his job.

As the Greek Helsinki Committee has reported, Macedonian minority activists are continuously harassed by the authorities; they are often followed by national security or secret service agents, they are repeatedly treated as agents of Republic of Macedonia by authorities and media alike, without ever the latter providing any substantive claim or -in the case of most media-publishing disclaimer or protest letters sometimes sent by the activists. Thus, the conservative party deputy Virginia Tsouderou, accused some groups of Macedonians of their "willingness to serve another country (...) [and] along with the Skopjans make this cultural assault and genocide to the detriment of Greece."

Moreover, on April 1, 1993 Hristos Sideropoulos and Anastasios Boulis, the Macedonian human rights activists who founded the Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Greece, were put on trial after their comments about the existence of the Macedonian minority were published in the Greek magazine ENA, in March 1992. Based on the interview and on Sideropolous’ comments at the OSCE meeting both were charged with ‘spreading false information and rumors that might cause anxiety and fear to the citizens’ and were sentenced to five months imprisonment on the basis of Article 191 and 192 of the Greek Penal Code. After considerable pressure from international human rights organizations, on January 28th 1994,, the Greek authorities overturned the conviction.

Furthermore, according to report by Greek Helsinki Committee, activists of the Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity who signed in 1992 a petition asking for Macedonians’ rights faced reactions against them that included extreme psychological pressure on their relatives, including their children in small villages, slandering graffiti, removal of an officer from elected office in an association for ‘having damaged its reputation’, loss of clientele which was threatened so as not to patronize a private business, etc. Greek authorities have also discouraged printing houses to print Macedonian activists’ newspapers and pamphlets. Many issues of the Macedonian minority newspapers Zora never reach their addressees, as they are thrown away at the post office.

Moreover, ethnic Macedonian activists have met with difficulties organizing cultural activities such as Macedonian folklore dance and song festivals. Since Macedonian identity and language are not recognized, even singing Macedonian songs is considered a forbidden activity. Thus, public singing and dancing of Macedonian songs and dances has often been broken up by police, as such a cultural activity "remains a nationally suspect if not anti-Greek act". On July 20, 1990 at the village of Meliti near Lerin (Florina) an ethnic Macedonian folk festival was broken up by force by Greek authorities and police. On Saturday 26th of July, 1997 a Macedonian folk festival was held in the village of Olimpiada, Aegean Macedonia. The Greek police authorities however pressured the organizers to cancel this manifestation of Macedonian culture. The president of the organizing committee and the president of the village council were interrogated twice by the local authorities as to the ethnic Macedonian character of the festival in an attempt to stop the festival taking place.

Furthermore, initiatives to register ethic Macedonian cultural institutions, have been refused by the Greek government. In 1990 the High Court of Florina under decision 19/33/3/1990 refused to register a Centre for Macedonian Culture. An appeal on August 9 the same year against the decision was also refused. In May 1991 a second appeal was refused by the High Court of Appeals in Thessaloniki. In June 1991 the Supreme Administrative Council of Greece in Athens dismissed a further appeal. The Macedonians activists who intended to establish this cultural institution filed a complaint against Greece at the European Commission of Human Rights challenging the decisions of the Greek courts, at all levels, which rejected registration of their association since 1990. In the summer of 1996 the court declared admissible the complaint against Greece.

At the European court the Greek state attempted to refute the applicants’ claim by arguing that no such minority existed in Greece and called the Greek Macedonians "Slavs of Skopje," claiming that the purpose of their complaint was solely to "obtain a ruling by the Convention organs that the name Macedonia belongs to the recently established Slav nation of Skopje." In addition, the Greek government claimed that the applicants wanted "to establish an association on behalf of the minority of the Slavs of Skopje in order to protect the cultural traditions of Skopje, which are in reality of Bulgarian and Yugoslav origin. The Government affirm that such a minority and such cultural traditions do not exist in Greece." Despite Greek objections, in the summer of 1998 the European Court of Justice convicted Greece for the violation of the freedom of association (Article 11 of the European Convention), because the Greek courts did not allow the establishment of the "Home of Macedonian Civilization" (as translated in English by the European Court). The Court considered the aims of the Macedonian associations clear and legitimate.

In May of 1998, a round-table discussion took place near Florina, organized by the Rainbow party and attended by over 100 Greeks and Macedonians from Greek Macedonia. The meeting was the first of its kind to take place in this minority area. According to Greek Helsinki Committee, the participants were not allowed to hire publicly-owned meeting rooms in Florina- local hotels refused to give rooms to the guests. Meanwhile Alexander Popovski, an invited representative of an association of Aegean Macedonians living in Bitola (Republic of Macedonia) was refused entry to the country. Furthermore, "during the meeting itself, financial police controlled the ‘taverna’ where it was held and fined the establishment for not having issued receipts for the drinks - a technically valid charge, but the first such control to have been carried out at that establishment".

Another example of Greek resistance to accept the existence of the Macedonian identity and Macedonian language is the events that took place in Florina on September 8, 1995. On this date, the members of the Rainbow Party, opened an office in the city of Florina. The opening of the office was marked by the erection of a sign written in both the Greek and Macedonian identifying the premises as the local office of the party. As a consequence, the office was attacked and sacked by a mob, led by among others, the mayor of Florina. The district’s public prosecutor pressed no charges against the persons involved in this violent incident, but, instead pressed charges against the Rainbow leadership for ‘incitement to disturb the peace through disharmony, through the use of the Macedonian language and the Macedonian name of the city’. There was no condemnation of these events by the government, the country’s political parties and media - with a few rare exceptions
among the latter.

Before the sacking the prosecutor had ordered the removal of the inscription and had announced the indictment of Rainbow leaders for having incited division of the people through the use of the Macedonian language on their sign. As a result, four Rainbow members were put on a trial for public use of their mother tongue. Despite the fact that the Greek government was internationally condemned by many human rights groups for this prosecution of Macedonian activists, the trial was initiated on 14th October. The Rainbow leaders were accused of "causing and inciting mutual hatred among the citizens" (article 192 of the penal code) because they had hung up a sign with Slavic text outside their office in Florina. Although the trial was postponed on several occasions the Greek Court finally heard the Rainbow case on September 15, 1998. Due to a repeated and immense international pressure from NGO’s such as the Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada, Greek Helsinki Monitor, and Amnesty International, the Rainbow Party was been acquitted.

Further case of Greek illiberal attitude toward the Macedonian minority occurred on 17th of February this year. On that day the Greek border authorities at the crossing between Republic of Macedonia and Greece, confiscated from the Rainbow leader Traianos Pasois two calendars written in the Macedonian language with pictures from Northern Greek cities, cited by their Slavic names. Although Pasois brought charges against the officers the public prosecutor of Florina rejected them as unfounded stating that the officers had acted on orders of "their superiors and the competent ministry." The prosecutor added that the seized material "cannot be allowed in the country and should be returned to its country of origin as it is propaganda material that may disturb the relations between our country and the neighboring country of Skopje." Furthermore, the public prosecutor indicted Pasois for having violated article 191 by "disseminating false information or rumors which may cause […] disruption of the international relations of the country" and initiated judical proceedings against him. Although the original date was set for March 18, the trial was postponed and rescheduled for November 18, 1998, thus keeping Pasois in a limbo for over two and a half years. Finally, after a considerate international pressure Pasois was acquitted in a trial in late November.

The ordeal of a priest, Father Nikodimos Tsarknias, is indicative of how far persecution can go when the state and the church coordinate it. Father Nikodomos Tsarknias is a monk of the Orthodox Christian faith. He is a citizen of Greece and is a member of the ethnic Macedonian minority. From 1973 until 1991 Tsarknias was an ordered member of the Greek Orthodox Church. He was one of the first Macedonian human rights activists and was publishing, through his sister, the newspaper Moglena, which reported on local problems, including minority issues. After openly declaring his ethnic identity in 1991, and having communicated with parishioners in the Macedonian language, Tsarknias became under pressure of the Greek ecclesiastical authorities to resign. Moreover, from then on, he has been continually harassed by Greek government officials. Thus, in July, 1992 Archimandrite Nikodemos Tsarknias, and a parishioner, Photios Tzelepis, were issued with a ‘Writ of Summons’ to appear in the Magistrate's Court of Thessaloniki. The priest was charged with insulting his Archbishop and was also accused of being a homosexual and a Skopjan (Republic of Macedonia) spy. However, a KYP (Greek Secret Service) report revealed that the minor charge in the Summons was a pretext to harass the priest for his human rights activism. The report stated that the authorities "did not find the courage to say that they expelled him out of the church for his antihellenic stance and to ask for his committal to trial for high treason but instead, they removed him with the lukewarm "justification" which we reveal today so that it will stain with shame all those who contributed to it." In March 1993, the Archimandite Nikodemos Tsarknias was defrocked and expelled from the Greek Orthodox church for his human rights activism. In March 1993, the Archimandite Nikodemos Tsarknias was defrocked and expelled from the Greek Orthodox church.


There is no question that the Greek state’s human rights record is in violation of the many international conventions it has ratified, i.e. the various CSCE documents on the human dimension, the Council of Europe’s human rights conventions, and the UN human rights conventions. Moreover, Greece has a startling standings on Will Kymlika’s list of practices of nation building. Greece has illiberal policies on all the points Kymlika suggests as useful in determining the liberal extent of the nation building policy a state pursues. Not only Greece has at the initial moment of conquest of Aegean Macedonia, engaged in unjust policies of resettlement and colonization of territories that were inhabited by ethnic Macedonians, but it has continued with illiberal nation building ever since.

Greece denies the basic right of self definition of to its Macedonian minority. On this basis Macedonians are refused other minority rights, such as, the right to establish cultural institutions, minority language schooling, etc. The Greek state has a very restrictive definition of citizenship, it does not allow for any other ethnic identity except Greek to be bearer of a Greek citizenship. Not only Greece does not allow any minority nation building process, but it insists on the Macedonian minority’s acceptance of Greek identity. The illiberal policies of the Greek state go as far as harassment of individuals who challenge the Greek nation building myth. Thus, even human right activists, who advocate granting minority rights to the ethnic Macedonians, have been over again harassed by Greek state officials. Sadly enough for the ‘birth place of democracy’, I must conclude that the Greek nation building and its minority policy is alarmingly illiberal and destructive and should be immediately altered.


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