MINELRES: Fwd: Greece and Bulgaria fail to comply on national minority rights

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Sep 27 22:22:24 2006

Original sender: Greek Helsinki Monitor <office@greekhelsinki.gr>

Greece and Bulgaria fail to comply on national minority rights says
Catalan MEP

Florina/Lerin & Blagoevgrad/Gorna Dzumaja, Wednesday, 20 September 2006
by Georgios N. Papadakis

Greece and Bulgaria are continuously failing to comply with
international accords concerning human rights and protection of ethnic
and linguistic minorities, while historic-based propaganda is used to
justify the hostile attitude of both states towards their Macedonian
minorities. These were the main conclusions of the European Free
Alliance's, a European Parliament political party (EFA), fact-finding
mission in the region held last week. It was led by the Catalan MEP and
EFA Vice President , Bernat Joan i Mari, and the Partys co-director
Guenther Dauwen. 

In a press conference held in the city of Florina/Lerin after the
European Free Alliance delegations meetings with Greek local
authorities, Bernat Joan i Mari stressed that it is unacceptable and
counter-productive to continue to deny the existence of the Macedonian
people and their language and urged Greece to organize an open census
allowing Macedonians to declare their ethnic, linguistic and cultural

The Catalan MEP, who sits on the Culture Committee of the European
Parliament and a sociolinguist by profession, rejected the Greek
allegations that Macedonian is a not a distinct and different language.
He concluded that now is the time to overcome the burdens intentionally
raised by Greeces obsession with disputable historical facts and look
towards the future based on the present situation. 

The EFA representatives had the chance to witness how Greece deals with
the issue of Macedonians living in the country in a meeting with
high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
university professors in Thessaloniki/Solun. 

Although the delegation was invited to visit Greece by local EFA
affiliate party EFA-Rainbow, which campaigns for recognition of the
Macedonian minority, the representatives of this party were expelled
from the above-mentioned meeting because they did not have a personal
invitation. It is considered by EFA Rainbow that it is part of the
policy of the Greek state to avoid any kind of direct dialogue with

The fact finding mission of EFA continued in the Pirin region of
Bulgaria, home to the majority of ethnic Macedonians. According to
Guenther Dauwen the situation there resembles that in Greece, Bulgaria
recognises no separate Macedonian nation or language and puts all sorts
of obstacles in order to avoid electoral participation of Macedonian
political parties. For example, Bulgaria changed the law for the
formation of a legal political party. Now 5,000 signatures are required
for the official application instead of 500 in the past.

OMO Ilinden Pirin, the organization for Macedonians in Bulgaria, and EFA
observer member, is so far the only victim of the 5,000 quota policy,
they also face hostile Bulgarian authorities and press. Stojan Georgiev,
vice president of OMO Ilinden Pirin, told the delegation that after a
request to host an event in the city of Blagoevgrad/Gorna Dzumaja, the
mayor replied that they should go to Macedonia to do it.

According to OMO Ilinden Pirin the mainstream media often use defamatory
statements when referring to the Macedonians in Bulgaria. EFA were told
during the visit that there were reports that OMO Ilinden Pirin tried to
bribeRoma and Turks in the city of Goce Delcev with 50 leva (24 euro) in
order to collect the necessary amount of signatures for the registration
of the party. Georgiev categorically rejected these allegations,
pointing to the miserable financial situation of the party and its
members and urged EFA to intervene so that the EU makes the recognition
of the Macedonian minority conditional to Bulgarias EU accession.

Last Sunday in Istanbul, speaking to a conference organized by Turkish
associations from western Thrace in Greece, Turkish PM, Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, accused Greece of ignoring international treaties and not
applying the commitments it undertook regarding the protection of
minorities. He also urged the EU to take a closer look at member states
that do not fulfil certain human rights criteria while at the same time
being extremely critical to candidate countries over the same issues.
(Eurolang 2006)

Related links:
www.focus-fen.net (Bulgarian News Agency)
www.maknews.com (Macedonian News Portal)

European Parliament Members Report on Macedonian Minority in Greece and

Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya in the European Parliament


Bernat Joan i Mari

14 September 2006

Catalan MEP in Greece/Macedonia visit

Catalan MEP Bernat Joan of the European Free Alliance group in the
European Parliament and party co-director Gėnther Dauwen have
highlighted the heavy burden of history on the peaceful co-existence of
Greek and Macedonian speakers during a visit to the region. They met
with national, regional and local representatives of the Greek state and
with representatives of the Rainbow party, who represent the Macedonian
minority in Greece.

The focus of the visit to Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria is the
linguistic rights of Macedonian speakers who live outside of the
Republic of Macedonia..

According to Greek state officials with whom the delegation met, there
is no such thing as a Macedonian language in Greece, there are no
Macedonians, the Macedonian alphabet is not used and that theres only
one minority in Greece namely the Muslim minority. The representatives
of the Rainbow-Vinozitho party who represent the Macedonians in Greece
were not allowed to participate in this meeting.

The local representatives of the communalities around Florina-Lerin, the
Prefect of Florina-Lerin and an MP of the Florina-Lerin region did
accept to speak with the EFA delegation and its Greek Rainbow partner.
Nevertheless all toed the line laid down by Athens and limited their
comments to denying the existence of Macedonians in Greece.

Bernat Joan i Mar+ MEP, as a sociolinguist, commented:

It is unacceptable and counter productive to deny the existence of the
Macedonian people and the language which they speak. We challenge the
Greek authorities in Athens to organise a census in which all citizens
can declare openly the language and culture to which they relate.
Following this census the Government should do more to respect the
linguistic rights of these Greek state citizens who speak the Macedonian

Co-director of the European Political party Gėnther Dauwen stated:

EFA supports the Rainbow organisation's plans to reprint the primary
school book in the Macedonian language and alphabet that the Greek state
officially issued in 1925. This official book can be an instrument in
founding a bilingual education system in the regions of northern Greece
where the Macedonian language is spoken.

EFA encourages the Greek government to recognise genuine diversity and
respect the rights of minorities according to European values.

For more information:

Headquarters of EFA: info@e-f-a.org / Tel: +32 (0)25133476 / 4851.

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