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European Parliament Members Report
on Macedonian Minority in Greece and Bulgaria

September 14, 2006

Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya in the European Parliament - Press Release

Bernat Joan i Mari

Catalan MEP in Greece/Macedonia visit

Catalan MEP Bernat Joan of the European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament and party co-director Gunther Dauwen have highlighted the heavy burden of history on the peaceful co-existence of Greek and Macedonian speakers during a visit to the region. They met with national, regional and local representatives of the Greek state and with representatives of the Rainbow party, who represent the Macedonian minority in Greece.

The focus of the visit to Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria is the linguistic rights of Macedonian speakers who live outside of the Republic of Macedonia.

According to Greek state officials with whom the delegation met, there is no such thing as a Macedonian language in Greece, there are no Macedonians, the Macedonian alphabet is not used and that there’s only one minority in Greece namely the Muslim minority. The representatives of the Rainbow-Vinozitho party who represent the Macedonians in Greece were not allowed to participate in this meeting.

The local representatives of the communalities around Florina-Lerin, the Prefect of Florina-Lerin and an MP of the Florina-Lerin region did accept to speak with the EFA delegation and its Greek Rainbow partner. Nevertheless all toed the line laid down by Athens and limited their comments to denying the existence of Macedonians in Greece.

Bernat Joan i Mari MEP, as a sociolinguist, commented:

“It is unacceptable and counter productive to deny the existence of the Macedonian people and the language which they speak. We challenge the Greek authorities in Athens to organise a census in which all citizens can declare openly the language and culture to which they relate. Following this census the Government should do more to respect the linguistic rights of these Greek state citizens who speak the Macedonian language”.

Co-director of the European Political party Gunther Dauwen stated:

“EFA supports the Rainbow organisation's plans to reprint the primary school book in the Macedonian language and alphabet that the Greek state officially issued in 1925. This official book can be an instrument in founding a bilingual education system in the regions of northern Greece where the Macedonian language is spoken.”

EFA encourages the Greek government to recognise genuine diversity and respect the rights of minorities according to European values.

For more information:

Headquarters of EFA: / Tel: +32 (0)25133476 / 4851.

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