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European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance Recommends that Greece Recognize Macedonian Minority

June 08, 2004


European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance

Third report on Greece

Adopted on 5 December 2003 and made public on 8 June 2004

The following is an excerpt from ECRI's report. For the full text, please see the link below:

www.coe.int/t/E/human_rights/ecri/1-ECRI/2-Country-by-country_approach/Greece/Greece_CBC_3.asp

Macedonians and other minority groups

80. In its second report, ECRI encouraged the authorities to ensure that all groups in Greece, Macedonians and Turks included, could exercise their rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression in accordance with international legal standards.

81. ECRI notes that the Greek authorities are more ready to recognise the existence of minority groups in Greece, such as the Pomaks or the Roma, including the fact that certain members of these groups have a native language other than Greek. However, other groups still encounter difficulties, the Macedonians and Turks for example. Even today, persons wishing to express their Macedonian, Turkish or other identity incur the hostility of the population. They are targets of prejudices and stereotypes, and sometimes face discrimination, especially in the labour market. In the Sidiropoulos and others v. Greece judgment of 10 July 1998, the European Court of Human Rights found that the refusal to register the association "Home of Macedonian Civilisation" constituted an interference with the freedom of association as guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. ECRI deplores the fact that, five years after the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, this association has still not been registered despite the repeated applications made by its members. ECRI notes that similar cases are currently before the Greek courts concerning registration of associations whose title includes the adjective "Turkish".

82. ECRI stresses that the authorities took a first positive step on the path of reconciliation by opening their borders for a few days during the summer of 2003 to persons of Macedonian origin compelled to leave Greece in the civil war when most were only children. ECRI nevertheless deplores the fact that persons holding a passport in which the name of their birthplace in Greece was indicated in the Macedonian and not the Greek form were refused entry to Greek territory.

83. ECRI notes that representatives of the Macedonian community have asked the authorities to recognise their right to self-identification, as well as the existence of a Macedonian national minority in Greece. They have also called for the ratification of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, considering that this step could improve their situation in Greece.

Recommendations:

84. ECRI encourages the Greek authorities to take further steps toward the recognition of the freedom of association and expression of members of the Macedonian and Turkish communities living in Greece. It welcomes the gesture of reconciliation made by the Greek authorities towards the ethnic Macedonian refugees from the civil war, and strongly encourages them to proceed further in this direction in a non-discriminatory way.

85. ECRI also recommends that the Greek authorities closely examine the allegations of discrimination and intolerant acts against Macedonians, Turks and others, and, if appropriate, take measures to punish such acts.

86. ECRI strongly recommends the Greek authorities to open a dialogue with the Macedonians' representatives in order to find a solution to the tensions between this group and the authorities, as well as between it and the population at large, so that co-existence with mutual respect may be achieved in everyone's interests.

     
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