Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Rainbow/Vinozhito Letter to EU Council of Foreign Affairs Regarding Macedonia Name Issue

Member of the European Free Alliance - European Political Party (EFA- EPP)
Member of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN)
ST. DRAGOUMI 11 TK. 53100 P.O 51
TEL/FAX 0030 23850 46548

--- --- ---

Rainbow/Vinozhito - Press Release

Florina/Lerin - In the meeting of the Council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union that took place yesterday in Brussels in which the Greek Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Mr Valinakis participated, one of the subjects that were examined was the relation between the European Union and the Republic of Macedonia in combination with the issue of the name and the relation of Greece with the neighboring country.

Rainbow Party, the political party of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece delivered to the twenty five Ministers of the E.U countries via the European Political Party "European Free Alliance” and the President Mr Nelly Maes the following letter with the main positions of the party.

The press Bureau

--- --- ---

TO: The members of the EU Commission on External Relations
Honorable Foreign Ministers

Dear Mr. Minister,

On the occasion of the recent developments in the relations between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia concerning the issue of our neighboring country's name as well as its prospective accession into the European Union, permit us to point out the following.

We are members of the national Macedonian minority in Greece as well as members of the Rainbow Party, which has been active in Greek politics since 1994 and in the European Parliament via the European Free Alliance (5 EMPs), which Rainbow joined in 2000. We have every respect for your undertaking with the "Macedonian issue”, for which we wish you every success, and we would like to express our views on the issue of the name - and thus perhaps assist you in your endeavor.

Our political position on the issue of the name of the Republic of Macedonia is based on the democratic principle that every individual and every people has the right to choose the name by which it wishes to define itself. We believe that this individual and collective democratic right is a European as well as a universal value. After all, it is on the basis of this principle that we call ourselves ethnic Macedonians in Greece.

In the objections raised to the use of name per se of the state of Republic of Macedonia, Greece has adopted (among others) the stand that our neighboring country must have a compound name because there is a geographical district in Greece with the name Macedonia. We on the other hand believe that, as it stands, the existing constitutional name of our neighboring country is already a compound; the prefix "Republic of” in front of the word Macedonia denotes statehood and refers to another specific geographical region north of Greece. In other words, it has both political and geographical scope since the Republic of Macedonia as a political subject exists in a specific geographical region of Europe and nowhere else. Besides which, no region of Greece carries the name "Republic of Macedonia,” which would cause confusion with the use of this term.

As Greek and European citizens we are obliged to point out that today the key to this so-called "Macedonian issue” lies elsewhere, and not in the conceptual and linguistic objections of the Greek government.

The problem that the Greek government diligently conceals is its (as well as Bulgaria's) refusal to recognize the existence and to respect the rights of the Macedonian nation. This of course also entails the refusal to recognize the existence and the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece. The problem as the Greek government presents it has nothing to do with the so called "cultural heritage of ancient Macedonia”, or that a portion of the Greek territory bears the administrative name of the District of Macedonia and the neighbor state calls itself also Macedonia or the Republic of Macedonia. What the Greek government stubbornly refuses to admit is that it does not agree with the ethnic use of the terms "Macedonia,” or "Macedonian” because of the existence of the Macedonian minority in Greece. Greek politicians maintain that the Macedonian minority in Greece is likely in the future to rise up with separatist demands. This - and not the name of the Republic of Macedonia - is the real and diachronic problem for every Greek government. However, if the Greek government admits this, then it must also proceed with corresponding measures to recognize and respect the rights of the minority - which, unfortunately, it does not currently do.

We believe that it is precisely the contrary policy - i.e. the repression and violation of a minority's rights - that leads to unrest and disturbances of the peace. The former Yugoslavia taught us this lesson not very long ago.

Rainbow, in its activities as a political party from its founding in 1994 to this day, has repeatedly proclaimed that all borders between the Balkan states must be respected as unalterable for the sake of the peace and prosperity of the region's inhabitants. The minorities that exist in these states must refuse to become the tools of "Great Idea” notions and policies. Rather, they must develop relationships of solidarity and unity with the majority population and the other minorities in their respective countries.

At this historical juncture we would like to now publicly exempt the conduct of the governments of the Republic of Macedonia throughout these years for demonstrating unprecedented political maturity for a Balkan country, and maintaining a truly consistent, democratic, European stance in its political practice. In contrast to the practices of its neighboring countries, it has never attempted in even the slightest way to interfere with or "exploit” the existence of Macedonian minorities in its neighboring countries.

Rainbow, from its founding in 1994 to this day, has had the fortune of participating in the European political arena through the European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. Rainbow therefore follows and implements such a political practice. It uses democratic and peaceful means to exert pressure on the Greek government to respect the rights of the Macedonian minority, as is the case in every civilized and democratic state in today's Europe. At the same time, it seeks on the domestic level to strengthen its relations with all democratic Greek citizens.

We believe that the level of democratization and true Europeanization of our country and our society is judged by how it behaves towards its minorities. Unfortunately, Greece has a democratic deficit in this area.

We regret that in a European country such as Greece we do not enjoy even rudimentary minority rights, such as respect for our language and culture. As European citizens we also want to have more support for our struggle from European institutions and E.U. political organs.

It is our wish to have a Greece as well as a Europe that is peaceful, multicultural and as multicolored as a Rainbow. After all Europe today and in the world to come is and will always be our great, common homeland.

Sincerely yours,

On behalf of the
Political Secretariat of the Rainbow Party

Pavlos Voskopoulos
Athanasios Parisis
Pantelis Kligatsis
Athanasios Boules
Stavros Athanasiadis
Petros Vasiliadis
Anastasios Matzas
Petros Kazias
Petros Dimtsis