MHRMC - Press Release
MHRMC Condemns Greece's Continued Blacklisting of Ethnic Macedonians
July 26, 2003
Sources: Deutsche Welle, Dnevnik, Vest
|The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada (MHRMC) condemns Greece's continued blacklisting of ethnic Macedonian human rights activists
and political refugees. Despite Greece's recent pledge that Macedonian political refugees will finally be allowed to enter Greece this summer,
after 55 years in exile and in time for their Third World Reunion,
(see www.mhrmi.org/news/2003/june09_e.asp for background information)
several instances of Macedonians being denied entry into Greece have occurred during the past week.
On July 20, 2003, Australian citizen Janko Kalinchev, born in the village of Ovcharani (Meliti in Greek), and Canadian citizen Georgi Kizovski,
born in Gabresh (Gavros), attempted to enter Greece from the Republic of Macedonia in order to visit their birthplaces. However, Greek border
officials denied them entry and refused to give them an explanation, instead saying that they were denied entry for "other reasons". (See the
border document given to Canadian citizen Done Rakovsky when he
was refused entry on July 6, 2002).
According to Mr. Kizovski, "The Greek government keeps a blacklist of people who are active in Macedonian organizations abroad and who openly
declare themselves as Macedonian. We were obviously returned at the border because of our membership in the Association of Refugee Children
from the Aegean Part of Macedonia (Detsa Begaltsi) in Australia and Canada."
Another Australian-Macedonian activist, Sotir Mitrev, was returned at the border on July 24, 2003. This was the third time that he has been
denied entry into Greece.
"Makedonka", a Macedonian dance group from Canada, comprised solely of members who were born in Canada, were also denied entry into Greece last
week. This reportedly occurred because the dance group had the word "Macedonia" on their jackets and the border officials did not "approve" of it.
Despite repeated requests by the MHRMC over the past 15 years, the Canadian government has refused to confront Greece over its systematic
persecution of Canadian citizens. However, Canada has made similar requests of other countries, including the United States, when border
incidents involving Canadian citizens occur.
(See www.mhrmi.org/news/2002/november13_e.asp for the MHRMC's
letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, imploring Canada to investigate the several cases of Canadian-Macedonians being denied entry
into Greece in 2002).
After Greece's "historic" announcement of June 8, 2003, in which exiled Macedonian political refugees were to be allowed entry into Greece for
the first time since the Greek Civil War, nationalistic elements of Greek society immediately pressured the Greek government in order to reverse
their decision. They were worried that the political refugees would "incite" the local Macedonian population into a heigtened sense of
nationalism. The majority of Greek society supports its government's non-recognition and discrimination of its large Macedonian minority.
The Greek government has succumbed to this pressure as it announced on July 3, 2003 that the political refugees will be allowed to enter the
country from August 10 to October 30, and would only be allowed to stay for 20 days. The date of the Detsa Begaltsi's Third World Reunion was
well-publicized and was originally going to take place from July 15-20. The Greek government's announcement forced the organizers to reschedule
the event to August 10-15, which will cause a large number of political refugees, particularly from Canada, the United States, and Australia,
to miss the event as they originally planned to enter Greece before July 10. Furthermore, Greece has backed down from its promise to seek an
immediate solution to the political refugee issue. Answering a question on the free visit of "non-ethnic Greek" political refugees on June 8,
2003, Deputy Foreign Minister, Andreas Loverdos, stated that "since we have overcome all these problems of the past and of the civil war... we
want to overcome this vestige too sooner rather than later...during this summer." Evidently, Greece has chosen its previous path of denying
entry to Macedonians simply because of their ethnicity and is seeking to impede the reunion in any way possible.
The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada calls on the international community to apply pressure on Greece to end its racial profiling of
individuals of Macedonian ethnic background and to immediately solve the issue of the Macedonian political refugees. The MHRMC specifically
asks that the EU end its hypocrisy in demanding that new member states respect human rights standards while ignoring human rights violations
within the EU.
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Address: 157 Adelaide St. West, Suite 434, Toronto, Canada M5H 4E7
Tel: 416-850-7125 Fax: 416-850-7127