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EFA-Rainbow Responds to US State Department Report

March 16, 2006


EFA-Rainbow - Press Release

Regarding the recent US State Department Report on Human Rights Practices in Greece, EFA-Rainbow would like to highlight the following:
  • For yet another time, our country is under heavy criticism for applying restrictions to the freedom of association and speech, regarding its Macedonian and other ethnic minorities. The 2005 Report includes the censorship of the Thanassis Triaridis article on the Macedonian language (newspaper “Makedonia”- August 2005) and the continuous policy of the Greek courts to raise legal restrictions in order not to recognize associations baring the names “Macedonian” or “Turkish”.
  • Another issue that is included- also as a result of EFA-Rainbow’s activities- is the merely humanitarian problem of the Macedonian political refugees. According to the US State Department, these people are the sole victims of the Greek law for denaturalization and its discriminative “successor” for repatriation, are not allowed to return to their birth places while many of them are black-listed and not allowed even to enter Greece only because they’ve publicly stated their Macedonian ethnicity.
  • The conviction of Greece (October 2005) from the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) regarding violations of its Articles for fair hearings and freedom of assembly and association. Greece must pay compensation money of approx. 35.000 euros to the EFA Rainbow members that were assaulted back in 1995, only because they used their mother tongue (Macedonian) on a sign outside the-later destroyed -party’s headquarters in Florina/Lerin.
On the other hand, we could not avoid to comment on the terminology adopted by the Report. Terms as “Slavophones”, “Slavomacededonians” when referring to the Macedonians in Greece or “Slavic/Slavophone dialect” when referring to their mother tongue as well as figures presented, go fully in compliance with Greece’s official position on these matters and don’t conform with the Report’s justified and sharply critical attitude towards Greece.

Furthermore, this happened although when other international organizations already cited in the present and previous Reports, like the European Commission against Racism & Intolerance* (ECRI), the International Helsinki Federation/Greek Helsinki Monitor* and the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages* (EBLUL) refer to the Macedonians and their language with the only acceptable name.

Respecting and honoring the valuable contribution the US State Department Human Rights Reports had on improving the situation of the Macedonian minority in Greece over the years, EFA Rainbow would like to express its wish- a wish also of all Macedonians- that the next Report will include the above remarks. For the sake of objectivity, human rights but, most of all, human dignity.

The Press Office of EFA Rainbow

* Macedonians and other minority groups. (ECRI - Third report on Greece) www.coe.int/t/e/human_rights/ecri/1-ECRI/2-Country-by-country_approach/Greece/Greece_CBC_3.asp … ECRI strongly recommends the Greek authorities to open a dialogue with the Macedonians’ representatives in order to find a solution to the tensions between this group and the authorities, as well as between it and the population at large, so that co-existence with mutual respect may be achieved in everyone’s interests.

* Macedonian Minority -GHM www.greekhelsinki.gr/pdf/ghm-mrgg-concise-annual-99.doc ... It should also introduce the possibility to grant citizenship to the few thousand former Greek citizens who are now living as stateless abroad. It should finally grant the former Greek citizens who have been stripped of their citizenship under Articles 19 or 20 of the Citizenship Code and live abroad with different citizenship (almost all are ethnic Turks or Macedonians) at least unhindered entrance to Greece, irrespective of their minority advocacy abroad; and examine favorably any possible (but expected to be rare) request for citizenship.

www.florina.org EBLUL and EUROLANG Drop References to "Slavo-Macedonian" Language in favor of "Macedonian Language"

     
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