OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
October 2 – October 13 2006, Warsaw
Working Session 12: Freedom of Association
October 10, 2006
Statement of the Home of Macedonian Culture
|Thank you Mr Moderator
Today I would like to bring everyone’s attention to a case concerning Greece’s refusal to respect the right of freedom of association. In fact,
the case concerns our organisation, the Home of Macedonian Culture, which remains unregistered due to reasons which I shall briefly outline.
In 1990, a group of Greek citizens decided to form a non-profit making organisation called the “Home of Macedonian Culture.” The group proceeded
to register this association with the local court in the town of Florina/Lerin. The court rejected the application asserting that the objective
of the association was to promote the idea that, and I quote, “…there is a Macedonian minority in Greece, which is contrary to the national
interest and subsequently contrary to the law”. An appeal to the Thessaloniki/Solun court also failed. In 1994 the highest court in Greece upheld
these decisions. The applicants then appealed the case to the European Court of Human Rights. In 1998 the court found that there was a violation
of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Following the Strasbourg ruling, the applicants tried once again to register the association. However for the next few years, there was no lawyer
in the Florina/Lerin area who would take up the case. Following the intervention of the Greek Ombudsperson, the Florina/Lerin Bar Association
appointed a lawyer and a new application was submitted to the court. But if only the matter was that simple. On December 12, 2003, the local court
in Florina/Lerin again refused to register the association, thus ignoring the Strasbourg ruling. The case was then appealed to the regional court
which only a few months ago upheld the decision of the Florina court, again ignoring the Strasbourg ruling. So deplorably, eight years after the
Strasbourg judgment and 16 years after the initial application, our organisation, the Home of Macedonian Culture, remains unregistered.
This raises some serious questions to which the Greek delegation should respond. Following the Strasbourg judgment, why has the Greek government
not taken any measures to implement the decision and ensure the registration of the Home of Macedonian Culture? The Greek government may claim
that this is a matter for the courts, however when national courts refuse to implement judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, the state
has the obligation to take measures to ensure the execution of the judgment. Why has the Greek government not done so? Does Greece consider the
execution of judgments to be optional?
Also what about Greece’s OSCE commitments and the case of the non-registration of the Home of Macedonian Culture? The right to association is
guaranteed in paragraph 10.3 of the Copenhagen Document. Furthermore, the right of a minority, which of course includes the right of the members
of the Macedonian minority of Greece, to form cultural associations is also guaranteed in paragraph 32.6 of the same document. Does Greece also
consider the implementation of OSCE standards to be optional?
I thank you for your attention.