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Macedonian Minority Criticizes Greece at OSCE Conference

October 12, 2004

Rainbow, the organization of the Macedonian Minority in Greece, have criticised Greece at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference taking place in Warsaw. Rainbow representatives presented reports about the situation of the Macedonian minorities in Greece, Bulgaria and in Albania.

For Greece, a member state of the EU, the main focus was given to its continuous denial of the recognition of the Macedonian minority at the national, linguistic or social level. Macedonians in Greece still lack basic human rights, such as access to Macedonian language education, freedom of speech, media or cultural expression.

Rainbow pointed out several cases illustrating Greeces violation of EU rules. These included the non-recognition of the Home of Macedonian Culture(Dom za Makedoskata Kultura) despite the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the closing of the radio station Macedonian Sound, and the cancellation (twice) of EFA-Vinozhitos Congress because of extremist threats, which were not denounced by the Greek state.

The representatives of Rainbow urged the Greek government again to respect the right to self-determination and to give official minority status to the ethnic or linguistic groups within its territory.

They also urged the OSCE, the EU and the Council of Europe (CoE) to exercise pressure, so that Greece applies rules it has already accepted and which are set as preconditions for all OSCE, EU and CoE member states.

The same appeal was made by the representatives of the Western Thrace Minority University GraduatesAssociation (WTMUGA), one of the main entities of the Turkish minority in Greece.

The Association focused on educational and social issues, such as the renewal of the books used in minority schools, the interference of the Greek state in the electoral process for religious bodies, prosecutions against members of the Turkish minority and the return of property.

In his reply to the criticisms, the Greek representative, Mr Moshopoulos, stated that Greece is a democratic country with a full respect for human rights and international rules. He also added that Greeces permanent position on the, in his terms, so-called Macedonianminority is that they do not exist, while the Muslimwest Thracian minorities, comprising Turks, Pomaks and Roma, enjoy a high standard of living and absolute freedom.

However, he did not explain why Greece faces rulings from ECHR for human rights violations or why governmental and non-governmental international organizations such as the European Commission against Racism or Intolerance (ECRI), International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) have again officially requested recognition of the Macedonian minority. (Eurolang)

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