AMHRC Calls on the Australian Prime Minister
to Clarify His Statement Made in "Support" of Greece
April 28, 2005
|AUSTRALIAN MACEDONIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) was concerned to hear a particular statement made during the course of a joint press
conference of the Prime Minister the Hon John Howard MP and the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic on 27 April 2005 held in Athens.
Prime Minister Howard stated:
“I have reaffirmed the Australian Government’s support for Greece’s position in relation to the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia”.
Whilst no further elaboration was provided as to the meaning of this declaration, its clear inference suggests that the Australian government
has supported and continues to support one foreign state’s foreign policy position over another state. This is a disturbing revelation.
Firstly, the indifference of the state of Greece towards the people of the Republic of Macedonia adopting a name for their country, which they
themselves have determined and have an inalienable right to do so, itself challenges the long standing notions of a peoples right to self
determination, but the fact that another state, Australia, takes a subjective interest in support of this position is an unacceptable interference
in another sovereign country’s affairs. Moreover, an existing discussion that is taking place between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia over
the use of that name is a bilateral discussion between these countries and does not involve Australia. The Prime Minister of Australia should
immediately clarify his statement.
Secondly, the Prime Minister should also answer whether during his talks with Greek officials he has raised the matter of the consistent human
rights violations by the Greek state towards its minorities, especially its ethnic Macedonian minority. This is an issue that Europe itself has
challenged the Greek state on. The policies adopted by successive Greek governments in denying the ethnic identity of its Macedonian minority and
its consequent discriminatory practices have been widely condemned by various international human rights organisations. (For example see Amnesty
International Reports, Greek Helsinki Monitor (1995, 2001), Human Rights Watch (1994), reports by the Organisation for Co-operation and Security
in Europe (1997-2004), reports by the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance (1999, 2004), the US State Department Human Rights reports
(1994–2004) etc…). Does Australia also “support” Greece on this issue? The Prime Minister should also clarify Australia’s position in relation to
Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee
PO Box 364, Doncaster VIC 3108, Australia
Tel/Fax: + 61 3 9460 2910