Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
OSCE 2000 - Freedom of Movement - Presentation by the Home of Macedonian Culture

Written presentation by the representative of the Home of the Macedonian Culture

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentleman,

Does freedom of movement mean that you have the right to visit your relatives or your friends around the world?

Does freedom of movement mean freedom to visit the village or the city where you were born or the place where your family members were born and live?

Unfortunately this is not the case in Greece.

More precisely in the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, in the Republic of Macedonia, there is an application form which must be filled out to obtain a visa to travel in Greece. There is one form for people who were born in the Republic of Macedonia. There is a different form for those who were born in Greece and temporary live in the Republic of Macedonia as political refugees having left Greece during the Greek Civil War.

Within the application form there is a question for details of one's personal identification and another question about one's citizenship. It should be mentioned that the application asks that one declare their "nationality" which in essence can be construed to mean "ethnicity."

If in that part of the form one writes Macedonian, then they will never be granted a visa to visit Greece. A Macedonian political refugee and former Greek citizen, (presently a citizen of the Republic of Macedonia) must declare their nationality as Greek to obtain a visa to visit his family home in Greece.

Every question regarding one's personal beliefs, such as a persons ethnic identity, proves the intention for discrimination because such a point is not necessary for civil identification.

Furthermore the Greek government actively works to stop contact and visitation between ethnic Macedonians living in Greece and their relatives temporary living in the Republic of Macedonia.

It is not just this application form which is a great barrier for ethnic Macedonians to travel from the Republic of Macedonia to Greece, but also the "infamous" inadmissible list of the Greek Ministry of the Interior which is implemented against ethnic Macedonians.

Greece is using a blacklist and placing ethnic Macedonians on it so they are not allowed to visit Greece. Such an incident happened a few months ago with Mr. Vasko Karadza a political refuge temporary living in the Republic of Macedonia.

Mr. Karadza was born in 1923 in the village D'mbeni or Dendrohori in the Kostur or Kastoria region in Northern Greece. He was forced to leave Greece during the Greek Civil War. He tried to re-enter Greece and was prohibited by Greek authorities. The reason for his denial of entry is because his name appears on the "blacklist". This is written in the notification certificate for his refusal of entry, which was given to him at the border station.

Another similar incident occurred with the editor and rights activist Slavko Mangovski, the son of a political refugee who was born in the Macedonian village Smrdesh or Kristalopigi in Northern Greece. Slavko Mangovski is editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Makedonsko Sonce, published in Skopje, and is also known for his defence of the rights of Macedonian minorities in the Balkans. On 28 August, 2000 he attempted an entry at the border crossing of Negochani or Niki in order to visit a festival in a Macedonian village. After the routine computer check, he was advised to wait and after approximately 10 minutes was summoned to the office of what appeared to be the chief of the police and given a Notification Certificate for the Refusal of Entry specifying "other reasons" as grounds for the refusal. At the same time a crossed stamp was placed in his U.S. passport, apparently in order to alert border authorities that he is effectively banned from ever entering Greece.

Although no reason was provided, it is believed that Mr. Mangovski (born in Bitola, in the Republic of Macedonia) is on the list of "undesirable persons" because of his outspoken criticism of the discriminatory Greek policy towards ethnic Macedonians.

It is also improper for the authorities of Greece to stamp, i.e., deface, another state's document (here a U.S. passport) which makes the bearer of the latter possibly look suspect to third countries' border authorities, when he attempts to enter any other country.

Similar procedures are implemented at the border by Greek authorities against many Macedonian workers and members of the Macedonian minority who are temporary living in European as well as other countries.

Mr. Chairman in closing I must say that in the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe on National Minorities and particularly Article 17 there is an obligation for neighboring countries to create presuppositions for free communication and movement among the population of the minorities of these countries.

Don't you think the official policy of the Greek government as it was described a few minutes ago works against the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe on National Minorities?

Thank you all for your attention.