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GHM Urges Sanctions Against Thessaloniki (Solun) Prefect for Intolerant Statement Against Macedonian Minority Party Rainbow

May 28, 2004

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) sent a letter today to the Minister of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, requesting that he sees to it that a prompt disciplinary investigation into the Prefect of Thessaloniki, Panayote Psomiadis, is carried out and a sanction corresponding to the gravity of his intolerant action be imposed.

Yesterday, the Prefect issued a statement regarding the congress of the minority party "Rainbow" -- a member of the European Parliament's European Free Alliance -- scheduled to be held on 30 May 2004 in Thessaloniki, stating inter alia:

"It is ... an outright violation of all principles of national dignity, national sensitivity, and minimum national self-esteem, to accept that in our city will be held a congress of Rainbow, an organization known for its anti-national views, views that directly provoke the national reflexes and sensitivities of Hellenism around the globe and especially of the [Greek] Macedonians. For these reasons, we consider undesirable the well-known circles and their representatives in Thessaloniki. "

Such statements are an outright violation of Article 2 of Law 927/79:

"Whoever in public, whether orally, by the press, through writings, by pictures or by any other means expresses any ideas offensive to an individual or a group of individuals by virtue of their racial or ethnic origin or their religious affiliations, shall be punished by imprisonment for a maximum of one year and/or a fine. "

It is also in breach of Article 2.1&3 of EU Directive 2000/43, considered to have been automatically transposed into the Greek legal order on 19 July 2003:

"1. For the purposes of this Directive, the principle of equal treatment shall mean that there shall be no direct or indirect discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin... 3. Harassment shall be deemed to be discrimination within the meaning of paragraph 1, when an unwanted conduct related to racial or ethnic origin takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. "

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