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Greece slammed for non-respect of minority rights

February 19, 2009

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Thomas Hammerberg Greece does not respect the rights of ethnic minorities and it refuses to acknowledge the existence of other minority apart from Muslim, says the report of the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammeberg.

Commissioner Hammerberg expresses serious concern about the over-restricted practice of Greek courts and non-registration of certain minority associations.

"In particular, in its 2004 Third Report on Greece, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) commented that persons wishing to express their Macedonian, Turkish or other identity incur the hostility of the population. They are targets of prejudices and stereotypes, and sometimes face discrimination, especially in the labour market.

The Commissioner has observed that despite the non recognition of any other national or linguistic minority, Greek authorities have acknowledged that in northern Greece there exist a small number of persons who use, without restrictions, in addition to the Greek language, Slavic oral idioms, confined to family or colloquial use.

According to the authorities, this "Slav-oriented group of Greek citizens in (the Greek region of) Macedonia have been freely participating with their own political party in parliamentary elections in Greece". In fact, in the 2004 elections for the European Parliament this party (European Free Alliance Rainbow, based in the town of Florina as from 1995) received 6.176 votes, that is a national percentage of 0.10%.

The Commissioner notes that Greece, like all other Council of Europe member states, is an inherently pluralistic society.

"The existence in it of minority groups, be they national, religious or linguistic, should be considered as a major factor, not of division, but of enrichment for the Greek society."

Source: Makfax

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