Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Press Release
MHRMC Condemns Greece's Continued Blacklisting of Ethnic Macedonians

Sources: Deutsche Welle, Dnevnik, Vest

The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada (MHRMC) condemns Greece's continued blacklisting of ethnic Macedonian human rights activists and political refugees. Despite Greece's recent pledge that Macedonian political refugees will finally be allowed to enter Greece this summer, after 55 years in exile and in time for their Third World Reunion, (see for background information) several instances of Macedonians being denied entry into Greece have occurred during the past week.

On July 20, 2003, Australian citizen Janko Kalinchev, born in the village of Ovcharani (Meliti in Greek), and Canadian citizen Georgi Kizovski, born in Gabresh (Gavros), attempted to enter Greece from the Republic of Macedonia in order to visit their birthplaces. However, Greek border officials denied them entry and refused to give them an explanation, instead saying that they were denied entry for "other reasons". (See the border document given to Canadian citizen Done Rakovsky when he was refused entry on July 6, 2002).

According to Mr. Kizovski, "The Greek government keeps a blacklist of people who are active in Macedonian organizations abroad and who openly declare themselves as Macedonian. We were obviously returned at the border because of our membership in the Association of Refugee Children from the Aegean Part of Macedonia (Detsa Begaltsi) in Australia and Canada."

Another Australian-Macedonian activist, Sotir Mitrev, was returned at the border on July 24, 2003. This was the third time that he has been denied entry into Greece.

"Makedonka", a Macedonian dance group from Canada, comprised solely of members who were born in Canada, were also denied entry into Greece last week. This reportedly occurred because the dance group had the word "Macedonia" on their jackets and the border officials did not "approve" of it.

Despite repeated requests by the MHRMC over the past 15 years, the Canadian government has refused to confront Greece over its systematic persecution of Canadian citizens. However, Canada has made similar requests of other countries, including the United States, when border incidents involving Canadian citizens occur. (See for the MHRMC's letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, imploring Canada to investigate the several cases of Canadian-Macedonians being denied entry into Greece in 2002).

After Greece's "historic" announcement of June 8, 2003, in which exiled Macedonian political refugees were to be allowed entry into Greece for the first time since the Greek Civil War, nationalistic elements of Greek society immediately pressured the Greek government in order to reverse their decision. They were worried that the political refugees would "incite" the local Macedonian population into a heigtened sense of nationalism. The majority of Greek society supports its government's non-recognition and discrimination of its large Macedonian minority.

The Greek government has succumbed to this pressure as it announced on July 3, 2003 that the political refugees will be allowed to enter the country from August 10 to October 30, and would only be allowed to stay for 20 days. The date of the Detsa Begaltsi's Third World Reunion was well-publicized and was originally going to take place from July 15-20. The Greek government's announcement forced the organizers to reschedule the event to August 10-15, which will cause a large number of political refugees, particularly from Canada, the United States, and Australia, to miss the event as they originally planned to enter Greece before July 10. Furthermore, Greece has backed down from its promise to seek an immediate solution to the political refugee issue. Answering a question on the free visit of "non-ethnic Greek" political refugees on June 8, 2003, Deputy Foreign Minister, Andreas Loverdos, stated that "since we have overcome all these problems of the past and of the civil war... we want to overcome this vestige too sooner rather than later...during this summer." Evidently, Greece has chosen its previous path of denying entry to Macedonians simply because of their ethnicity and is seeking to impede the reunion in any way possible.

The Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada calls on the international community to apply pressure on Greece to end its racial profiling of individuals of Macedonian ethnic background and to immediately solve the issue of the Macedonian political refugees. The MHRMC specifically asks that the EU end its hypocrisy in demanding that new member states respect human rights standards while ignoring human rights violations within the EU.

Bill Nicholov
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Address: 157 Adelaide St. West, Suite 434, Toronto, Canada M5H 4E7
Tel: 416-850-7125 Fax: 416-850-7127
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