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PRESS RELEASE

The Council of Europe General Assembly Debate
about the Greek Civil War Macedonian Political Refugees


July 3, 2007

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In the General Assembly of the Council of Europe, a debate about the refugees in the Southeastern Europe took place, recently. The debate took place after the relative report of N.D. (New Democracy) deputy Nikolaos Dendias from Greece. After Rainbow’s Party initiative, five Council deputies presented a proposal for an amendment about the Macedonian political refugees of the Greek civil war, for discussion.

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Extract of dialog during the Deputies Assembly of the Council of Europe – 26/6/2007

We come to Amendment No. 3, tabled by Mr Goran Lindblad, Mr Geert Lambert, Mr Erik Jurgens, Mr Blagoj Zasov, Mr Ivan Popescu and Mr Boriss Cilevics, which is in the draft recommendation, after paragraph 11, insert the following paragraph:

"Discrimination in Greek law is also of concern. In 1982 the Greek Parliament passed an amnesty law (No. 106841) which declared that political exiles who fled during the Civil War (1946-1949) and were stripped of their citizenship, are allowed to return, providing that they are "Greeks by genus". In 1985, Law 1540 was passed under which political exiles who fled during the Civil War were allowed to reclaim confiscated property, provided that they are "Greeks by genus". The term "Greeks by genus" is a reference used by the Greek government for all those who identify themselves as being ethnic Greek. Hence, ethnic Macedonians and others are excluded from enjoying the rights granted under these laws. These laws are still in force today."

I call Mr Lindblad to support amendment No. 3.

Mr LINDBLAD (Sweden). – The title of this report is the "Situation of longstanding refugees and displaced persons in south-eastern Europe". According to my map of Europe, Greece is certainly in south-eastern Europe. Moreover, Macedonian and other refugees have experienced these problems for far too long. So I will borrow the arguments of Mr Varvitsiotis, who said that, regardless of any dissent, we should fight for these displaced persons and put pressure on the relevant governments. That is exactly what we are doing if we accept this amendment.

http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/Records/06271500E.htm

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

I call Mr Varvitsiotis.

Mr VARVITSIOTIS (Greece). – I thank my colleague for quoting me. What the amendment says is false and the people who have signed it are misinformed. Moreover, it is irrelevant and has been tabled at the wrong time, because we are talking in the report about displaced persons in the post-communist era and after the Balkan wars. We are not talking about the post-Second World War situation in 1949, following the civil war in Greece. The amendment acts as an agent provocateur. It could prompt a motion for a report on this issue itself, and I would welcome such a motion, so that we could be shown the truth regarding how well received people of Slavonic descent, or of any other descent, are in Greece.

THE PRESIDENT. – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr BRANGER (France) (Translation). – The committee is against.

THE PRESIDENT. – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 3 is rejected.

We come to Amendment No. 4, tabled by Mr Goran Lindblad, Mr Geert Lambert, Mr Erik Jurgens, Mr Blagoj Zasov, Mr Ivan Popescu and Mr Boriss Cilevics, which is in the draft recommendation, before paragraph 13.2, insert the following sub-paragraph:

"to call upon the Greek authorities rapidly to review laws 106841 of 1982 and 1540 of 1985 with a view to ending the discrimination resulting from them, so that ethnic Macedonians and others may enjoy the full benefits of these laws;".

I call Mr Lindblad to support Amendment No. 4.

Mr LINDBLAD (Sweden). – The arguments are exactly the same as before. It would solve the problem for the Macedonians and other persons who were displaced following the civil war in Greece.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

I call Mr Varvitsiotis.

Mr VARVITSIOTIS (Greece). – My arguments against the amendment are also the same as before.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you for your brevity.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mr BRANGER (France) (Translation). – The committee opposes the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – The vote is open.

We regret that Mr. Varvitsiotis was actually obliged to lie during the debate, to prevent the adoption of the amendment proposal. The EFA- Rainbow has already sent a detailed report of the racist law to the Council of Europe deputies and more actions will follow, by the Party side, in the relative Council organizations.

If the action to correct such a law in our country, using political pressure, through the institutional-international organizations, (as it is the Council of Europe), is a "provocative" act, as Mr. Varvitsiotis said during the debate, then how could the compulsory exile of thousands of people for more then half a century, by racist Greek law stipulations, be characterized?

Mr. Varvitsiotis, as a young politician, instead of lying to his European colleagues about "wrong information" and of "how well received people of Slavonic descent, or of any other descent, are in Greece" could take an initiative in the Greek Parliament together with some colleagues of his, so that the racist provision can be removed and the democratic deficit at this level can be 'filled'. After all, in the past (his statements about the use of the national Greek flag) he has shown that he has the political courage for such initiatives.

The Press Office.

     
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