EU Fails National Minorities in Bulgaria and Greece
October 30, 2006
|Macedonian Human Rights Movement International - Press Release
"Macedonians should be shot dead when walking the streets". Apparently the EU finds statements like this acceptable when they come from politicians
from EU, or soon-to-be EU, countries. Bulgarian municipal councillor, Veselin Danov, recently made this statement when referring to Macedonian
minority party OMO Ilinden PIRIN. (For background information please see MHRMI's press release of September 19, 2006, appended below.)
The EU has a chance to effect positive change in Bulgaria's repressive political system but chooses instead to turn a blind eye. Human rights groups
should not have to implore the EU to stand up for basic European values that the EU itself claims to uphold. According to Article 21 of the Charter
of Fundamental Rights of the European Union:
Long-time EU member-states also oppress their minorities without fear of repercussions. In an interview for the Macedonian daily newspaper Dnevnik,
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated “I am proud of the capacity of Greek democracy. All citizens of Greece have equal rights. I am sure
that you already know that in Greece there is only one minority in Western Thrace and those are the Muslims. There is no such thing as ‘a
Macedonian minority.’” Greece's human rights violations against its Macedonian minority have been well-documented since Greece's entry into the EU
- Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief,
political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
- Within the scope of application of the Treaty establishing the European Community and of the Treaty on European Union, and without prejudice
to the special provisions of those Treaties, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.
Bulgarian courts are set to rule on the registration of OMO Ilinden PIRIN on Wednesday, November 1, 2006. MHRMI calls on the European Union to
enforce the European Court of Human Rights October 20, 2005 decision in favour of OMO Ilinden PIRIN's immediate registration and to make Bulgaria's
accession to the EU explicitly conditional on its recognition of its Macedonian minority. Furthermore, MHRMI appeals to concerned human rights
organizations and NGOs to issue statements in support of the Macedonian minority in Greece and Bulgaria, and specifically, the immediate
registration of OMO Ilinden PIRIN.
Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Address: 157 Adelaide St. West, Suite 434, Toronto, Canada M5H 4E7
Tel: 416-850-7125 Fax: 416-850-7127
Bulgarian Media Sets New Low for Publicly Sanctioned Racism Against Macedonians
The Bulgarian media, namely, the Focus News Agency, has set a new low in the country's publicly sanctioned racism, xenophobia and intolerance toward
its Macedonian minority. On September 12, 2006, Focus referred to OMO Ilinden PIRIN as "separatists", and claimed that the party paid individuals to
sign up to become members. In order for a political party to register legally in Bulgaria it is required to obtain 5,000 members. This law was
introduced in Bulgaria just before the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the Bulgarian government and ordered it to unconditionally allow
the legal registration of the party. Since OMO Ilinden PIRIN announced that it had signed up more than 5,000 members and planned to register in the
Sofia Court, Focus has engaged in a campaign of slander and defamation of the Macedonian minority party. Focus' unfounded claims led to Bulgarian
politicians denouncing the Macedonian party and threatening legal ramifications in an effort to prevent its registration. Following are examples of
the hysteria that ensued which are indicative of a country that views itself as a western democracy worthy of EU membership but consistently proves
itself to be the very antithesis of one.
In an interview for Focus, VMRO leader Krasimir Karakachanov said "On Monday VMRO will alarm the Prosecutor in Chief and the Regional Prosecutor’s
office in Blagoevgrad on the collection of signatures in return for money."
According to Focus, the Chief Secretary of Party Order, Lawfulness and Justice Yane Yanev, "Will plead in court against registration of OMO Ilinden
– Pirin". Yanev said "Bulgaria is a state and not unfenced yard. The group that is laundering money buying people in order to establish some kind of
political formation with unclear aims is just wasting their time”.
Eliana Maseva, member of the political party "Democrats for Strong Bulgaria" said "Buying votes is inadmissible from both a legal and moral point of
view" and added "...the Criminal Code already contains texts that incriminate such actions."
Union of Democratic Forces member Filip Dimitrov said that "buying votes" is "indictable".
According to Focus, "The fact that OMO Ilinden-Pirin seeks the support of organizations which not only do not reject terrorism but use it as well is
very indicative – after OMO Ilinden-Pirin contacts such organizations they become a part of them." This is in response to OMO Ilinden PIRIN's meeting
in Bulgaria with the European Free Alliance, an organization that is a member of the European Parliament and which visited Bulgaria in order to
report on human rights violations against the Macedonian minority. Focus continued, "Krassimir Karakachanov joked that he wouldn’t be surprised if
OMO Ilinden-Pirin invite Osama bin Laden himself. OMO Ilinden-Pirin ‘also have an extremist way of thinking because they want to separate the region
of Blagoevgrad from Bulgaria’, the VMRO-BND leader added. He advised that the illegal party should not be underestimated and should not be allowed to
hold separatist activities in Bulgaria."
Furthermore, on Saturday, September 9th, Botjo Vangelov, a member of OMO Ilinden PIRIN, was arrested and detained by police in Blagoevgrad where he
was interrogated by state secret police for several hours. Prior to being detained, documents relating to the registration process of OMO Ilinden
PIRIN were confiscated.
MHRMI calls on the international community to condemn Bulgaria's state-sponsored acts of oppression, and demand that Bulgaria immediately recognize
its large Macedonian minority and grant it the human rights that it is guaranteed by all international human rights conventions. Moreover, MHRMI
calls on the European Union to enforce the European Court of Human Rights October 20, 2005 decision in favour of OMO Ilinden PIRIN's immediate
registration and to make Bulgaria's accession to the EU explicitly conditional on its recognition of its Macedonian minority.