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OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
19 September 30 September 2005, Warsaw

Working Session 17: Anti-Semitism, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination

September 29, 2005

Presentation by Rainbow/Vinozhito - Organization of the Macedonian Minority in Greece


Mr. Moderator,

May I first ask if you can see and hear me?

Thank you because according to an earlier speaker I am someone who does not exist.*

* The Greek ambassador in his reply to yesterday's and this morning's sessions once again refused to acknowledge the existence of the Macedonian minority in Greece.

I would like to draw your attention in this afternoon session to an important issue, as it is the phenomenon of a new anti-Semitism in my country, Greece.

Believe it or not today in Greece, almost 60 years after the terrible experience known as the Holocaust, an open neo-Nazi and anti Semitic party is politically active thanks to the passive approach of our government. Particularly the political party "Hrisi Avgi" (Golden Dawn), often organizes Anti Semitic events. They attempted to organize one a few days ago with the so-called "neo-Nazi" camp in Peloponnesus, together with similar movements from Europe.

Thanks to a strong reaction by the Greek Jewish community, Greek NGOs and thanks to the letter of protest by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the neo-Nazi event has been postponed.

Very often hate speech against Jews is distributed through newspapers, magazines and mass media with no reaction by the official state institutions such as the Public Prosecutor, even if there is antiracist legislation that prohibits such speech. This situation has been described in detail in the recent report of the Greek Helsinki Monitor.

Let me stress that more than 75% of the Jewish population was wiped out in the Greek territory from 1940 to 1945. This was even higher than the percentage in Nazi Germany, which was almost 67%. These numbers show that anti-Semitism has deep roots in Greek society as Professor Margaritis stresses in his recently published book.

Such a high percentage wouldn't be realized without the support or at least the acceptance of the majority of Greek society.

So it is not coincidence that we have a similar approach inside Greek society today, a "new wave" of Anti- Semitism.

Mr. Moderator,

A few years ago in a meeting with a high-level administrator of the OSCE in Budapest we apprised him of our peaceful and legal behavior for resolving our problems as a discriminated minority in Greece.

We asked him directly, why the international factor and institutions, such as the OSCE, are ignoring the open oppression by states against their minorities, as is the case with the Macedonian minority in Greece, yet on the other hand we have a "selective sensitivity" for the protection of human rights, as was the case of the former Yugoslavia?

His answer was: "There is no conflict in Greece."

May I ask if this answer means that we have a policy of double standards on the international level regarding policies of prevention and implementation of human rights?

Should we the Macedonians in Greece implement a more aggressive approach so as to draw the attention of the international factor to our plight?

This is merely a rhetorical question as we have no intention of using such methods.

Ladies and gentlemen,

During our attendance here we have felt very uncomfortable as we have had to accuse our own country of failures in the area of minority and human rights issues. But let me point out that this is an obligation for we Macedonians of Greece because of our strong belief in a pro-European and democratic approach.

As victims of the discriminatory policies of the Greek state, we Macedonians believe as citizens of Greece, as well as European citizens, that a constructive criticism will be helpful in eliminating the "deficit of democracy" in our country as well for its further democratization.

Thank you all for your attention.

     
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