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Press Release

AMHRC/MHRMI to Launch Campaign for Legal Action Against the Greek State to Restore Citizenship and Property Rights to Macedonians from Greece

April 23, 2010



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Deca Begalci The Australian-Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC), Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI), the Association of the Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia of Melbourne and Victoria, the Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia (ARCAM) in Canada and Macedonian refugee associations in the Republic of Macedonia have decided to launch a campaign for legal action against the Greek state to restore citizenship and property rights to Macedonians from Greece.

What is the aim of the action?
The aim of this action is to achieve the return of Greek citizenship and property to former Greek citizens who identify as Macedonians. The general strategy shall be to process individual applications for the return of citizenship and property through the Greek judicial system. In the event of a negative outcome, recourse will then be sought from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Why is this action important?
The AMHRC and MHRMI believe that this action is of vital importance because it is one more way to highlight the existence of Macedonians from Greece, and the time has come for Greece and Europe to recognise the atrocities of the past. There are a number of possible gains to be had from this action among which are return of unjustly revoked citizenship rights, with which will also be gained the right to return to visit ones birthplace and the right to vote in Greek and European elections. Also important is the return of confiscated property or financial compensation for such property or for the loss of citizenship. It is important to note that in the recent past there have been similar applicants from other mistreated groups where the financial compensation was very large. However it must be emphasised that there is no guarantee of success in such proceedings.

Will applicants have to surrender their Australian or Canadian citizenship?
No. If applicants regain their Greek citizenship, they will not need to surrender their Australian/Canadian citizenship. Greek, Australian and Canadian law all permit dual-citizenship.

What is the role of the AMHRC and MHRMI in this action?
The role of the AMHRC and MHRMI in this action is to coordinate relations between the applicants and the legal team and to assist in the gathering of the necessary documentation.

How will this action be carried out?
A legal team comprised of experienced lawyers and human rights experts from Greece has agreed to take up the cases. Once the action begins, the applicants will be required to sign documents and agreements with the lawyers. It should also be pointed out that there will be legal costs associated with this action which the applicants will have to pay.

How long is the action anticipated to last?
Regarding a timeframe, in a best case scenario, if a Greek court rules in favour of the applicant, the entire matter could be over in a year or so. However, the likely scenario is that Greek courts will rule against the applicants in which case recourse will be sought from the ECtHR. If this is the case, it will take about 7 years before we have a final outcome (5 years within Greece the maximum legal time for the exhaustion of domestic remedies and about 2 years before there is a decision from Strasbourg).

What documentation do applicants need to provide?
(1) Completed Questionnaire (document to be provided by the lawyers).
(2) Copy of Australian/Canadian citizenship certificate or copy of passport.
(3) Signed Power of Attorney document (to be provided by the lawyers).
(4) Signed contract with the legal team (to be provided by the lawyers).
(5) Any documents which prove the link between an applicants Greek legal name and their current legal name (if different) e.g. Deed Poll document, etc. For persons who arrived in Australia or Canada with a Macedonian surname, the lawyers will obtain two sworn statements from their village in Greece certifying that, for example, Petre Nikolov and Petros Nikolas is the same person.
(6) Any official Greek documents that an applicant may have in their possession relating to Greek citizenship, Greek passports or identity cards, loss of Greek citizenship, property deeds, etc.


Individuals in Melbourne who believe that they will be able to participate in this action, are invited to:
Grand Neret Receptions, 19 Salicki Ave, Epping
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
6:00 pm


Individuals who do not reside in Melbourne are advised to contact the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee
Tel: +61 3 9329 8960 or email:
macedonian_rights@hotmail.com.

Individuals in Canada/North America are advised to contact Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Tel: +1 416-850-7125 or email: info@mhrmi.org.

 
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