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AMHRC Calls on the Australian Prime Minister
to Clarify His Statement Made in "Support" of Greece


April 28, 2005


AUSTRALIAN MACEDONIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
MEDIA RELEASE

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 this matter.

Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee
PO Box 364, Doncaster VIC 3108, Australia
Tel/Fax: + 61 3 9460 2910
mail@macedonianhr.org.au
http://www.macedonianhr.org.au/

     
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