Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Press Release
Upcoming Second World Reunion of the Detsa Begaltsi

The Second World Reunion of the Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia will be taking place from July 15-19, 1998 in the Republic of Macedonia with an historic trip to Edessa (Voden), Greece planned for the morning of the 19th.

The Greek government has consistently denied the former child refugees entry into Greece and therefore, the MHRMC and ARCAM request your assistance in making this border crossing a success.

During the Greek Civil War of 1946-49, approximately 30,000 children between the ages of two and fourteen were evacuated by the Red Cross. The Greek government subsequently stripped them of their citizenship and has denied them entry into Greece even to visit relatives or to attend funerals, only because they assert their Macedonian ethnic identity. Former child refugees who express a Greek identity have regained their citizenship.

The members of ARCAM plan to cross the border from Bitola in the Republic of Macedonia into Florina (Lerin) Greece. We have informed all necessary authorities expressing ARCAM's desire to be allowed entry into Greece, including international embassies located in Greece and Greek government officials, specifically: Mr. Konstantinos Simitis, Prime Minister of Greece; Constantinos Stefanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic; Theodoros Pangalos, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs; Phillipos Petsalnikos, Greek Minister for Macedonia and Thrace; John Thomoglou, Greek Ambassador to Canada; Alexandra Papadopoulou, Greek Consul General in Toronto, Canada.

Unfortunately, as of June 14, we have not received a response from any of the Greek officials.

As stated in the letter:

"We would like to assure you that our objectives are peaceful and humanitarian. We want to be able to visit our places of birth, see our relatives and friends, perhaps for the last time. We feel it is our moral obligation to visit the graves of our parents and grandparents as proud sons and daughters of our native land. On the last day of the second World Reunion, on July 19, 1998, we would like to participate in a picnic which is to be held in the Republic of Greece and is being organized by Macedonians who live in Greece.”

We remain hopeful that Greece will comply with all international human rights conventions to which it is a signatory and allow 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