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Vinozhito and Other Macedonian NGOs' Reactions to Pangalos Statements

January 20, 1999

Greek Helsinki Monitor
Press Release - Jan. 20, 1999
Following the statements by the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Pangalos, during his visit to the Republic of Macedonia, that "there is no Macedonian minority in Greece", that "Vinozhito" won only 1700 votes", that "it is a collection of Slavomacedonians, Stalinists and homosexuals, that "thoughts on existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece are expressed by pervert intellectuals" etc., Rainbbow -Vinozhito and two Macedonian NGOs from Canada and Australia issued the following statements:

Florina - Lerin
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 political emigrants, 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 Anastasiadis Stavros
Papadimitriou Dimitrios
Sakellarios Nikos
Konstantinou Georgios
Voskopoulos Pavlos
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada Press Release - December 30, 1998 The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada condemns the statements made by Greek Foreign Minister, Theodoros Pangalos during an official visit to 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 3,500 votes. 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. Bill Nicholov
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
P.O. Box 44532, 2376 Eglinton Avenue East
Toronto, Canada
M1K 5K3
Tel: 416-202-8866
Fax: 416-412-3385
Macedonian Human Rights Committee of Melbourne and Victoria Inc ( Australia) The Chairperson
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Rummelhardtgasse 2/18
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 with 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's 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. Yours sincerely, Dr Chris Popov
Macedonian Human Rights Committee of Melbourne and Victoria Inc ( Australia) _______________________________________ Greek Helsinki Monitor &
Minority Rights Group - Greece
P.O. Box 51393
GR-14510 Kifisia
Tel. +30-1-620.01.20
Fax +30-1-807.57.67
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