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MHRMC Condemns Remarks by Secretary General of the Council of Europe
About Recognition of the Republic of Macedonia


February 4, 2005


Background: Terry Davis, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, recently made some controversial comments during an interview by Utrinski Vesnik, a newspaper in the Republic of Macedonia. For the full text please see:
http://www.mhrmi.org/news/2005/january31_e.asp.
See the MHRMC's response below.


Dear Sir,

We are appalled by the comments that you made in your recent interview for Utrinski Vesnik in which you claim that “if FYROM did not want to be called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia when it got admitted to the Council of Europe, it should not have accepted the membership under that name.” Such a statement is insulting to the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, ethnic Macedonian minority groups in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania, as well as the Macedonian Diaspora world-wide. As you are aware, the Republic of Macedonia had no choice in the name under which it would be admitted to the Council of Europe other than to forego admission under its constitutional name or accept the ridiculous acronym of FYROM.

Moreover, we find it astounding that you are satisfied with the Republic of Macedonia’s admission to the Council of Europe “because that means that the people from this country can benefit from the protection of the European Convention and the European Court of Human Rights”, while in Greece, a member state of the Council of Europe and all other European institutions, the human rights of the large ethnic Macedonian minority are abused regularly without sanction or redress. Clearly, membership in the Council of Europe does not guarantee protection of citizens’ human rights — at least if those citizens are ethnic Macedonians and they live in Greece. Your statement was either cynically misleading or based on a total lack of understanding of the issues facing Macedonians living in the Greek state today. It seems unfitting for the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in either case.

As you should be aware, the matter of the name of the Republic of Macedonia is a matter of human rights: Greece fears that if the Republic of Macedonia is recognized by European institutions under its constitutional name, this will undermine Greece’s long-standing position that Macedonians do not exist anywhere and especially not in Greece. Greece particularly fears that recognition of the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name will force Greece to recognize its own large ethnic Macedonian minority and thus make it accountable for its ongoing human rights abuses against Greek citizens of Macedonian ethnicity. Your statements only serve to steel Greece in its resolve to deny its Macedonian minority their rights as Greek citizens and as Europeans.

In our view, it behooves an institution such as the Council of Europe to rise above the politics of blackmail that Greece has engaged in since at least 1991 and take a stand for the most basic of European values: dignity, respect for diversity, and a recognition that the individual cannot be repressed by the state in which he resides within a free and democratic Europe.

We ask you to reconsider the Council of Europe’s stance on the Republic of Macedonia and its constitutional name.

Sincerely,
Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada

     
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