RAINBOW -- OURANIO TOXO
STEFANOU DRAGOUMI 11
PO BOX 51 53100 FLORINA
GREECE tel-fax: 0385 46548, 45O44
Florina - Lerin 29/01/1999
In regard to the recent statements made to the media by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Ljupcho Georgievski, the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Theodoros Pangalos, as well as the Greek Government Spokesman, Mr. Dimitris Reppas, (27th and 28th of January), RAINBOW has responded publicly with the following press release:
In relation to the remarks by Mr. Georgievski that "the Macedonians in Greece, or the Slavomacedonians as the Greeks call them, have never been in such a good position as today" we would like to note that the observance of the rights of the ethnic Macedonians in Greece must be compared in relation to the minority rights of the democratic European societies and not measured by the policy of "ritsinus"* and the brutal assimilatory policies advanced against Macedonians by the Greek state in the past. The situation encompassing minority rights in Greece today is comparable to that of a "third world country" because they are indeed not recognized, in fact the existence of the national minorities in Greece is officially denied. If today the policy of "ritsinus" is not being used against the Macedonian national minority then this is not the result of a positive policy by the Greek government in regard to its minorities (recently four members of RAINBOW were themselves prosecuted) but rather because Greece is a member of the European Union and that it is under severe pressure from international human rights organizations. These organizations, through their publications and reports, regularly expose Greece's human rights violations.
We believe one can objectively establish the condition concerning the observance of minority rights in any given country by considering the positions of the non-governmental organizations that are far removed from the official government interests. Similarly, this can also be established by representatives of minority rights organizations as long as they display by their activities that they are capable of assessing the situation objectively.
We fully agree, at least with the Mr. Pangalos's second point, that "in Greece there does not exist a Slavic minority." In Greece there exist Macedonian and Turkish national minorities. In reference to the first part of Mr. Pangalos's statement, "in Greece there has never existed a Slavic minority," we believe such discussions belong to historians. As for his third point, "there never will exist a Slavic minority," such ideas belong to those with visions of the future.
The existence of the Macedonian and Turkish national minorities in Greece today is expressed by the fact that there are members of these minorities, meaning a part of the Greek citizenry, who are active in the attainment and recognition of their rights. Through their organizations they have made official requests to the Greek government to obtain their proper status as national minorities.
We need to reiterate that the rights and conditions of the national minorities can in no way become a subject of bilateral agreements or disagreements. The thoughts expressed by Mr. Pangalos, and the thinking in some circles in the Republic of Macedonia and in Greece, are politically motivated and are unacceptable as they can be dangerous to peace and stability in the Balkans. Minority concerns must be resolved solely through dialogue between minority representatives and representatives of the government from the country in which they live. Minorities must refrain from becoming instruments of bilateral antagonisms.
Within this framework, and because Mr. Pangalos in his statements mentioned the role of the international institutions surrounding these questions, we call on the Greek government to verify the Framework Convention on Minority Rights which Greece signed in September, 1997, in the Council of Europe. Similarly, we call upon the government to begin a dialogue with representatives of RAINBOW and to apply these obligations and enact full observance of the above-mentioned convention toward the national minorities in Greece.
Regarding the statements of the government spokesman, Mr. Dimitris Reppas, in relation to the Macedonian political refugees who left Greece during the time of the Greek Civil War and whose citizenship was revoked, it is said, "the Greek government determines that it has committed no injustice." Here we would like to point out the following:
Law 106841 (29/12/1982) signed by the then Minister of the Interior, Georgios Genimatas and the Minister of Public Order, Giannis Skoularikis, within the framework of the policy of the government of the day, about the so-called "national reconciliation" of the citizens, which states... "all those that are Greek by genus who left Greece and went abroad as political refugees during the time of the Greek Civil War and whose citizenship was revoked may freely return to Greece..."
Would Mr. Reppas please explain to us who are the citizens that are "Greek by genus" and those that are "not Greek by genus?" Since, evidently, the government agrees with the abovementioned terminology will he explain to the relatives of these people ("not Greeks by genus" according to the government) who today live in Greece "of what genus they are?" Is there not an injustice in the application of a law that discriminates against a segment of the Greek citizenry based on genus? What does the official government spokesman, Mr. Dimitris Reppas, have to say about this?
RAINBOW considers that the application of laws which mention some kind of "genus" are not becoming of Greece which strives to be a modern European country. These concepts and laws are associated with the "anthropological classifications" used by the Nazis to promote some kind of "racial purity." Such totalitarian theories have been discarded by people who know full well what kind of results these have brought.
Policital Secretariat of RAINBOW
*The policy of "ritsinus" [castor oil] -- In the past, ethnic Macedonians,
young and old alike, were forced by Greek authorities (including school
and police authorities) to drink castor oil if they were caught speaking
in Macedonian. Because of the reaction that castor oil has on one's system
it was used as a means to publicly humiliate people and prevent them from
speaking their mother tongue.