Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Observations on the Parliamentary Question by the New Democracy M.E.P. Mr. Stavros Xarhakos to the European Commission

Dr. Georgios Nakratzas, Physician - Writer

On 19 March 2003 the M.E.P. Mr. Xarhakos submitted to the European Commission a question titled 'EBLUL and the systematic defamation of a member of the E.U.'. The question is whether Mr. Xarhakos is informing or misinforming the European Union on this matter. I should mention that these observations will be communicated by e-mail in English to the 600 M.E.P.s and to interested parties around the world. To allow readers to determine the truth or otherwise of the information offered by Mr. Xarhakos, these observations will take the form of a clarification of the various parts of the question.

Mr. Xarhakos claims that:
'it is well known that in Greece democratic freedoms and cultural difference are fully protected in law. This is the context in which the Muslim minority lives in Greek Thrace … its mosques built and restored with money from the Greek state'.

Mr. Xarhakos forgets:
1. How well cultural difference is safeguarded in our country was demonstrated on 2 February 2001 when the president of the Society for Vlach Culture, Mr. Sotiris Bletsas, was sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment. Mr. Bletsas' crime was that in 1995 he showed to a meeting of Vlachs in the city of Naousa an EBLUL leaflet asserting that 5 minority languages are spoken in Greece, in addition to the Greek language.
Mr. Bletsas was later acquitted, thanks to a massive mobilisation of democratic forces abroad. It cannot be disputed that the misinformation peddled by Mr. Xarhakos on this point causes any fair person to feel a shiver of indignation.
2. The Greek state is funded by the tax-paying citizens of Greece, among whom we must include the members of the Turkish minority of Greek Thrace.
3. A portion of the payment of the Orthodox Metropolitans, funded from the taxes paid by the whole body of citizens, is given as a special large-families allowance exclusively to Orthodox Christian families, while large families in the Turkish community are ineligible for the allowance.

Mr. Xarhakos goes on to ask:
'What are the activities of EBLUL in countries where the cultural identity of minorities is suppressed, as is the case, for example, with the Greeks … in Turkey?'

Mr. Xarhakos is unaware, or pretends to be unaware, that:
1. As a semi-official body of the European Union, EBLUL is committed to occupy itself exclusively with linguistic or cultural minorities of the Union member states; Turkey is not yet a member of the EU.
2. In the same question Mr. Xarhakos refers to the oppressed Greek minority in Turkey, while in the case of Greece he speaks of a Muslim minority. He aligns himself with the nationalistic policy in particular of the New Democracy party, which denies a section of the Greek citizen body the right to define themselves ethnically as a Turkish minority, while at the same time describing the Greeks of Turkey not as members of the Orthodox Christian minority but as Greeks. This position of Mr. Xarhakos is a classic example of nationalistic egocentricity. The question is how Mr. Xarhakos should refer to the unfortunate left-wing or extreme left-wing members of Greek society who, having lost their faith in Allah, continue to speak their mother Muslim tongue?

Mr. Xarhakos also says:
'Similar freedom is enjoyed by the other minority groups, however few they may be, such as the small Slav-speaking community in the region of Florina, which has set up a political party that enjoys complete freedom of action (it has offices, newspapers, is free to disseminate its ideas and does not fail to abuse Greece and the Greeks)'.

Mr. Xarhakos is unaware, or again pretends to be unaware, of the facts concerning the development and present situation of the Macedonian minority in Greece and its political party, the Rainbow Party.
1. In the relatively recent past the participation of Rainbow in elections in Greece was forbidden by the courts. Thanks to the intervention of the European Rainbow, Brussels, it was allowed at the last minute to put up candidates in the elections, after an urgent decision of the Supreme Court.
2. In 1995 a group belonging to the nationalist underworld in Florina and the surrounding area destroyed the offices of Rainbow in Florina, at the instigation of the Mayor of the city, the Council and the local church, who all issued decrees to this effect.
3. 4 leading members of Rainbow, despite the fact that they were victims of this barbaric act, were prosecuted on the grounds of sowing dissension among the people of Florina. Officials of the so-called left-wing parties in Florina appeared as witnesses for the prosecution.
4. On 15 September 1998 members of Rainbow were taken to court over the attack on their offices in 1995. They were eventually acquitted thanks to the vigorous protests of foreign M.E.P.s and the appearance of Greek democrats in their defence.
5. The suit brought by Rainbow against the nationalistic underworld, seeking material damages for the destruction of the furniture and computers in their office in 1995, was refused by the courts on the grounds that: there is no reason to accept the suit, since the preliminary hearings ascertained the existence of no offence and no culpability… It is possible that these preliminary hearings attributed the damage to an earthquake, curiously not felt by anyone else at the time.
The sequel of these sad events will be written in the near future in the court of human rights in Strasbourg.
6. The Greek courts have forbidden the creation of a House of Macedonian Culture in Florina. This resulted in a condemnation of Greece by the court in Strasbourg. To date it has not proved possible to secure legal recognition for the house of Macedonian Culture, thanks to obstacles put in the way by lawyers in Florina.

Mr. Xarhakos also refers to what he describes as the protective policy of Greece in respect of cultural difference in our country:
'Does the Commission (which appears to provide financial support for the activities of the EBLUL office) share the historically groundless views of M. Brezigar concerning the alleged existence of a 'Macedonian' language?'

Mr. Xarhakos is of the opinion that in addition to being a composer - an area in which he has undoubted skills - he is also a linguist, venturing so far as to question the existence of an entire language.
1. Is Mr. Xarhakos aware that Cyril and Methodius used the Slav dialect of the Thessaloniki region, which is essentially the forerunner of the current Macedonian language, into which they translated the Gospels?
2. Is Mr. Xarhakos aware that this Slavic language, i.e. Macedonian, was introduced by the Bulgarians, whose language up until that point was some Turco-Mongolian dialect or language?
3. Is Mr. Xarhakos aware that the Macedonian language is still spoken today outside the Florina region and in the areas of Kastoria, Kozani, Edessa, Naousa, Veroia, the country around Thessaloniki, Axioupolis, the northern environs of Serres and Drama?
4. In the phrase 'concerning the alleged existence of a Macedonian language' Mr. Xarhakos describes the views of M. Brezigar, president of the EBLUL, as historically groundless. The classic example of a distinguished musician making the mistake of regarding himself as a linguist.

Mr. Xarhakos asks:
'What are the names of the members of the Greek Committee of EBLUL and what are their precise capacities and positions?

The names of the members of the Greek Committee of EBLUL have been communicated publicly to all Greek M.E.P.s and to the Greek government. With regard to their professional capacities and other positions, what exactly does Mr. Xarhakos mean?
Perhaps he means the ethnic, religious or sexual orientation of the members of the Committee or their advisor?
The Greek church, supported by reactionary political elements, recently waged a positively mediaeval campaign to have the religious denomination of each person recorded on his identity card - the very same measure having been enforced in 1936 by the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas. This battle against reason and enlightenment was lost, and among the losers were Mr. Xarhakos and his New Democracy party.