Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
EBLUL Press Release on Macedonia Name Issue by Matthew Nimitz

Greek Member State Committee of EBLUL
Parisis Athanasios
Tel: ++306972844412

Press Release

Naoussa / Negush, April 17, 2005

Regarding the detailed written proposal (published in "Eleftherotypia" April 13, 2005) of United Nations Special Envoy, Matthew Nimitz, on the name dispute between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. The Greek Member State Committee of the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages (EBLUL) would like to note the following:

It was quite reasonable to see Mr. Nimitz suggesting to both countries that they should "...take under strong consideration the internationally acknowledged conventions and exercised practices on the use of toponyms in other states and to start -- in good faith -- bilateral talks regarding this issue, including the use of properly specified toponyms..."

EBLUL, as an entity which was established to protect and enhance the use of minority languages in all European Union (E.U.) member states, hopes that the above-mentioned (for Greece in particular) will encourage the Greek government to adopt these conventions and practices and apply them inside the country's territory as well. Especially to regions with a strong presence of lesser-used languages.

In other words, this should lead to total disincrimination of their use, as well as introducing bilingual signs, where the older (Macedonian, Turkish, Pomak, Vlach or other) toponym will be jointly indicated with the Greek one. These names have been widely used by the indigenous inhabitants for centuries in several regions of Greece but unfortunately they are under persecution by the official Greek state. An attitude that is fully incompliant with the laws and rules followed both inside and outside the E.U.

Such a development will initially help these languages -- a priceless cultural element not only for the country but for the Balkans as well -- to survive and subsequently will facilitate their introduction into the educational system and their systematic transcription.

Towards this direction, another abstract of the Nimitz proposal seems quite contradictive to the prior and not exactly contributory.

"...The people living in Greek Macedonia are commonly self-identifying themselves as Greek Macedonians -- with the Greek regional and cultural meaning of the term -- and such identifications should be used and respected."

Needless to say that in the geographical part of Macedonia that nowadays belongs to Greece, live also indigenous people who self-identify themselves differently and speak as mother tongue a language (Macedonian) that EBLUL for many years now has included among the lesser-used within the E.U. Therefore, it is evident that the linguistic and cultural diversity of the region should also be respected and cannot be "bulldozed" because of political generalizations.

The GMSC of EBLUL has no authority nor, of course, wishes to judge the Nimitz proposal as a whole. Nevertheless, it considers as "sine-qua-non" that the call to both involved parties for bilateral use of the internationally valid and accepted rules in the issues of toponyms, language and cultural heritage, should be primarily followed inside each one's borders.

Athanasios Parisis
President of GMSC of EBLUL