Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Rainbow/Vinozhito Letter to Ms. Carla del Ponte - Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Rainbow/Vinozhito - Press Release

TO: Ms. Carla del Ponte,
Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

CC: Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Kostas Karamanlis
President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias

Dear Madam Prosecutor,

On this, the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, we wish to take the opportunity to address you personally, as the person in the most competent position to help shed light on one of the darkest pages in contemporary European history.

We are deputies of RAINBOW, a small political party that endeavors to give a political voice to the Macedonian minority in Greece. Our party participates in the Greek political arena and on the European stage as a member of the European Free Alliance-European Political Party (EFA-EPP).

You are perhaps aware that the conduct of our country during the crisis in the former Yugoslavia did not correspond to that of most other European countries and governments. Throughout the crisis, Greece supported the Bosnian-Serb side and in general the Serbian policy in the Balkan region.

In the past, the Macedonian minority in Greece was also a victim of genocidal practices and chauvinistic Balkan policies. For example, the Greek army carried out massacres against Macedonian populations and burned villages in the region of Kilkis/Kukush at the beginning of the last century, according to the Carnegie Commission report (1913). This fact obliges us to treat similar problems with particular seriousness and sensitivity within the framework of our political activity.

In Greece, during the war in Bosnia and Kosovo, most politicians, the majority of the intellectual and cultural world, the Greek Orthodox Church and the greater portion of the mass media did not simply openly support even those being sought today for crimes against humanity: Karadjic and Mladic. They moreover reproached those European peoples and governments for their opposing position, thus systematically creating an anti-European and generally anti-western political current in Greek society. Characteristically, the current President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias as Foreign Affairs Minister claimed in a Greek radio interview (March 2001) that the only reason for the NATO military presence in the region was to wipe Serbia off the map, politically and militarily, so as to deprive Russia of its only European ally.

Throughout the crisis RAINBOW opposed the prevailing pro-Serbian current in our country. Despite this, today, ten years later, as European citizens, as members of the Macedonian minority in Greece, but primarily in our capacity as Greek citizens, we feel the need to publicly apologize to the people of Bosnia and to our fellow-European citizens for the behavior of the majority of Greek politicians and Greek society regarding the war in Bosnia, because to date no one else in Greece has done so.

What provokes our indignation as members of an unrecognized and oppressed minority is the fact that our fellow-Greek citizens not only support the ethnic cleansing policies of Karadjic and Mladic in Bosnia but also that a number of them participated actively in such operations as members of paramilitary groups. It is no coincidence that, following the slaughter of thousands of innocent citizens by Serb paramilitaries in Srebrenica, the Greek flag was raised symbolically in the center of town together with the Serbian flag, indicating the Greek participation in the so-called "takeover” of the town. It was, in fact, an act of "acknowledgment” and "gratitude” by the Serb militia towards their Greek "brothers.”

What provokes our trepidation for a future broadening of democracy in Greece is not only the lack of public self-criticism and the "amnesia” of the politicians and intellectual cadres of the land over their conduct at that time. It is also the fact that the Greek governments and judicial authorities have not yet taken the necessary action to investigate the participation of Greek citizens in war crimes. This, we believe, is unconscionable for a European country such as Greece. We only just read for the first time in the press (Kathimerini newspaper, 25.06.2005) a statement by Greek Justice Minister A. Papaligouras that the Greek authorities are holding an inquiry on the participation of Greek volunteers in the war.

Madam Prosecutor,

We believe that the job you are performing among your duties as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal will constitute a moral injunction to future generations of Europeans, so that we will never again experience another Srebrenica on this continent. Along with our gratitude to you as European citizens for this, we would like to kindly request that you launch an appeal to the Greek authorities to proceed impartially to complete this investigation of Greek citizens participating in the genocide, so that blame can be laid where it deserves and the guilty parties brought to justice.

We believe that this matter is of particular importance to our country for its expansion of democracy and its essential Europeanization.

With all due respect, EFA-RAINBOW is at your service for any and all cooperation.

Sincerely yours,

On behalf of the
Rainbow Political Secretariat

Stavros Anastasiadis
Athanasios Parisis
Pantelis Kligatsis
Anastasios Boules
Pavlos Voskopoulos
Petros Dimtsis
Eleftherios Mantzas
Petros Vassileiadis
Petros Kazais