Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Press Release
Detsa Begaltsi Border Crossing into Greece

The Second World Reunion of the Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia began on July 15, 1998 in the Republic of Macedonia and was scheduled to end with an historic trip to Edessa (Voden) Greece on July 19, 1998.

The former child refugees, evacuated from Greece during the Civil War of 1946-49, have consistently been denied entry into Greece simply because they assert their Macedonian ethnic identity. Former child refugees who assert a Greek identity have been allowed to return to Greece.

Several hundred Macedonians, under the supervision of a number of human rights organizations including the Greek Helsinki Monitor, the Macedonian Helsinki Committee and the Rainbow Party, attempted to cross the border from the Republic of Macedonia into Florina (Lerin) Greece on the morning of July 19, 1998. After being held up unnecessarily for several hours at the border and having their personal belongings examined, most of these people were allowed entry. The Greek government seemed intent on delaying the celebrations planned in Edessa (Voden) as the expression of Macedonian culture is not tolerated in Greece.

However, approximately 30 people, including the executive of the Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia (from Canada) were denied entry and given no reason by the Greek government. These people do not have criminal records and as Canadian citizens do not require visas to visit Greece. The Greek government turned them back only because of their involvement in Macedonian organizations overseas and because they assert a Macedonian ethnic identity.

The MHRMC and ARCAM call on the international community to condemn Greece's actions and to apply pressure on the Greek government to comply with all human rights conventions to which it is a signatory and allow these ethnic Macedonians to freely cross the border into Greece.

Bill Nicholov
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
P.O. Box 44532, 2376 Eglinton Avenue East
Toronto, Canada
M1K 5K3
Tel: 416-202-8866
Fax: 416-412-3385