Mr.Pangalos' statements demonstrate once again the immaturity in certain
circles in the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece
to understand that modernization and Europeization of Greek society produce
attitudes on guaranteeing and respecting minority rights of a portion of
the state's citizens different from
attitudes and political positions from the past.The existence of a nation or national minority does not depend, to the satisfaction of all, on someone claiming its existence or non-existence, but it is a reality that can be accepted or rejected by anyone, depending on the size and ability of their minds (not the body...), as well as on the education and messages sent by society to its citizens.
Topics such as diversity of the citizens, politics and ideas expressed
by politicians or intellectuals of a society cause the citizens to think
and act positively or negatively. It is precisely these things that determine
the progressive or conservative character of that society. European societies
today reject totalitarian thoughts such as those of the Greek Foreign Minister,
because they know full well that they lead to fascist and racist ideologies,
resulting in corresponding actions.
We regret that the Greek Foreign Minister offends not only himself, but also offends a large portion of Greek society that thinks and acts in a democratic manner.Knowing that national minorities in the Balkans have been used in the past and may be used in the future as factors of destabilization of states, Vinozhito has
declared many times (and acted correspondingly) that national minorities should refuse becoming a subject of international antagonisms and interventions in the internal affairs of the countries of their residence.
Also, minority policies should be such that they appease the passion
and fear of the majority of the people that the exercise of minority rights
has the ultimate goal of changing international borders.In this framework,
Vinozhito tries to collaborate (even in elections) with organizations,
parties and individuals who accept and recognize the existence of the Macedonian
minority in Greece, seeking to contribute to the construction of a common
European home and considering minority issues as having great importance
for the development of political democracy in the country, a thought the
Foreign Minister cannot or would not understand.
Vinozhito has participated twice in elections in Greece. According to official results from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Greece:In 1996 in the national Parliamentary elections it won 3500 votes in an election collaboration with the OAKKE party. In 1994 it participated in the European Parliament elections on its own, and won 7300 votes.
Although the existence of an ethnic minority does not depend on the number of votes won by a party through which portion of the minority population expresses itself, as the Minister mentions numbers, we take the liberty to ask him:
If the Greeks in Turkey, in Istanbul, on Imvros and Tenedos (small islands
in the Aegean sea numbering less than 2000 people) have the right to be
a Greek national minority in Turkey (just the Vinozhito voters alone represent
a greater number...), then why is it that thousands of relatives of Macedonian
declared non-Greeks by the Greek state itself and denied repatriation (is that not an indirect recognition of the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece?), are denied the right to be a Macedonian minority in Greece?
Political Secretariat of Vinozhito
The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada condemns the statements
made by Greek Foreign Minister, Theodoros Pangalos during an official visit
Skopje, Macedonia on December 22, 1998.
When questioned about the treatment of the Macedonian minority in Greece,
Pangalos reacted by saying, "Greece will never recognize a Slavic minority
in Western Macedonia." He referred to this minority as "artificial, a product of Titoism and Stalinism." Furthermore, he described the Macedonian
minority party, Rainbow, as "a coalition of Slavomacedonians, Stalinists and homosexuals that got 1,700 votes in the last elections."
He continued by saying that Rainbow "took part in the elections forming
alliances with the Organization for the Reconstruction of the Communist
Party of Greece (OAKKE) which is Stalinist, and the Movement for the Liberation of Homosexuals managing throughout Greece only 1,840 votes."
The Macedonian minority in Greece is internationally recognized. The
Rainbow party stood alone in the 1994 European elections and received 7,300
votes. They formed a coalition during the 1996 parliamentary elections with OAKKE, not the Movement for the Liberation of Homosexuals, and received
The MHRMC finds it unacceptable that a Greek politician would make such
erroneous and offensive statements regarding the Macedonian minority in
Greece and calls on Minister Pangalos to publicly retract his statements.
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
P.O. Box 44532, 2376 Eglinton Avenue East
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
1090 Vienna, Austria
30 december 1998
Dear Sir/ Madam
I write in relation to the intemperate and offensive statements made by Greek Foreign Minister, Theodoros Pangalos, during his visit last week to the Republic of Macedonia.
Pangalos, at a press conference at the end of his visit, stated that
a Macedonian minority did not exist in Greece, which is unremarkable given
the long-standing Greek policy of forced assimilation of its sizeable Macedonian
population. However, what is remarkable is that he made this intolerant
and racist statement in the Republic of Macedonia while there on an official
visit. Moreover, he added that all persons claiming there is a
Macedonian minority in Greece are
"pervert intellectuals and pervert journalists" and argued that the minority is "artificial, a product of Titoism and Stalinism." He openly slandered the Rainbow Party, the political party of the Macedonians in Greece . He characterized it as "a coalition of Slavomacedonians, Stalinists and homosexuals that got 1,700 votes in the last
elections." Despite his later clarification that Rainbow "took part in the elections forming alliances with the Organization for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece (OAKKE) which is Stalinist, and the Movement for the Liberation of Homosexuals managing to obtain throughout Greece only 1,840
votes", his pejorative description of the Rainbow party can only be described as an attempt to further isolate the Macedonian minority in Greece and foster a climate of intolerance towards all minorities in that country. Two days ago in an interview in the Athens Newspaper "Apoevmatini", he repeated the abovementioned views on the Macedonians in Greece and the Rainbow Party, however he added that "monkeys and animals" on both sides of the border who live in the past and
lack intelligence were responsible for bringing up the matter of the "non-existent" minority during his visit to "Skopje".
At the 1994 European elections the Rainbow Party stood alone and obtained
7,300 votes; and in the Greek parliamentary elections of 1996, in coalition
OAKKE, 3,500 votes. The figures presented by the Minister are patently false and are a transparent attempt by him dismiss the Macedonians' just struggle for recognition of their fundamental human rights and ethnic identity by projecting the notion that such a small group of people does not merit minority status. I point
out in this regard that the US State Department Reports on Human Rights Practices have in the last few years placed the number of Macedonians in Greece at around 50,000, whereas Macedonian sources in that country claim that this figure is more than 200,000 persons.
Greece has consistently refused entry to ethnic Macedonians from the
USA, Canada, Australia, Western and Eastern Europe who openly identify
as such, especially if such persons are former child refugees who fled
the Greek Civil War in 1948. Macedonians within Greece are subjected
to a state policy of
forced assimilation which makes a mockery of Greece's international obligations to protect national minorities. We therefore call on you to condemn Minister Pangalos' statements and voice your strongest protest to the Greek Government whose policy of continued denial of its Macedonian and other ethnic
minorities does nothing to enhance regional security and stability.
Dr Chris Popov
Macedonian Human Rights Committee of Melbourne and Victoria Inc ( Australia)
Greek Helsinki Monitor &
Minority Rights Group - Greece
P.O. Box 51393