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Greek Ministry Refuses to Meet Macedonian Minority at Linguistic Diversity Meeting

November 9, 2005

Florina - Lerin, by Georgios N. Papadakis

The Macedonian minority organization Vinozhito/Rainbow and its representatives have been officially excluded by the Greek Ministry of Education from a meeting on linguistic diversity issues in Greece.

Special Secretary on Intercultural Education at the Ministry, Mrs Ismini Kriari-Catranis, was supposed to meet tomorrow morning with Mr. Romedi Arquint the President of the NGO the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) and a FUEN delegation, at the request of the NGO. Rainbow is the only full member of FUEN in Greece and the presence of its representative at the meeting was expected.

Unfortunately, when FUEN informed the Ministry about the members of its delegation, Mrs. Kriari- Catranis officially replied that the Greek Ministry of Education had agreed on a meeting with Mr. Arquint, but only under the precondition of Rainbow's absence.

"At no point did the Ministry accept the participation of Rainbow representatives to the said meeting..." , states Mrs Kriari-Catranis in the letter.

Furthermore, the Special Secretary writes that "...we consider Rainbow to be neither a relevant participant or a valid interlocutor to a discussion regarding linguistic diversity in Greece..."

Since the letter was sent to FUEN just two days before the visit to Athens, Mr. Arquint will now meet with the Special Secretary of the Ministry, but without FUEN's local representation.

Vinozhito/Rainbow is a fully legal and officially recognized organization in Greece and member of the European Free Alliance Party (EFA). It has stressed on many occasions the need for recognition of the Macedonian language in the country, its substantive introduction into the education system, the establishment of an university chair dedicated to the Macedonian language, and the recognition of cultural organizations, such as the "Home of Macedonian Culture/Dom na Makedonskata Kultura".

According to Rainbow, this attitude is yet another example of the ongoing efforts of the Greek State not to legitimize any form of direct dialogue with members of the Macedonian minority.

Greece officially recognizes only one minority language in its territory, Turkish, and so far does not recognise any others.

The Greek Member State Committee of EBLUL represents speakers from the six minority languages spoken in the country: Turkish, Macedonian, Vlach/Aromanian, Arvanite, Pomak and Romani. However, its appeals for dialogue and cooperation with the Greek authorities on the issue of linguistic diversity have so far been left unanswered. (Eurolang 2005)

Related links:

Greek Ministry of Education

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