Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Greek Foreign Ministry's Nervous Reaction of Macedonian Refugees' Meeting in Lerin/Florina

News item courtesy of the Greek Helsinki Monitor

Kathimerini - Greece's International English Language Newspaper
Discord brewing in Florina

Greece yesterday protested to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonias diplomatic mission in Athens over the planned participation of FYROMs deputy Parliament speaker in a potentially controversial meeting in northern Greece.

Chief of mission Blagoj Hajinski was summoned to the Foreign Ministry after it was announced that Liljana Popovska would be attending, in her official capacity, the third international meeting of Civil War refugees from what the FYROM-based organizers call Aegean Macedonia, that opens today in Florina. Reports from Skopje late yesterday said Popovska would still be attending the meeting, but unofficially.

A number of Slavic-language speaking native Greeks fought with Communist forces during the 1946-49 Civil War, hoping to carve out an autonomous state from Greeces northern province of Macedonia. After the Communist defeat, they went into exile in Yugoslavia and many still live in FYROM. In June, Athens decided to lift a decades-old ban on the exilesreturn, allowing 20-day visits between August 10 and the end of October.

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"Macedonian Press Agency"
(Greek Agency inappropriately named to spread propaganda that "Macedonia is Greek")

It is a private event and it should not scare anyone, while there should be no exaggerations concerning the number of the people that will attend, commented Greek Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Andreas Loverdos. The comments were made on the occasion of an event that will take place near the city of Florina, northwestern Greece, this evening with the participation of political refugees from FYROM.

He observed that neither the FYROM government nor the Greek authorities will be present.

Speaking in the radio station Alpha Radio, Mr. Loverdos reminded that a similar event took place in 1999. He stated that the humanitarian measure adopted recently by Greece, allowing political refugees living in FYROM to visit Greece for a specific period of time, was not in effect then.

Mr. Loverdos said that the number of people that will attend the event is not an issue for concern, stressing that what is important is the messages that will be sent out during the event.

Responding to a question on the form of the event, he pointed out that it is organized by a so-called Committee for the Reception of Political Refugees made up of people close to Uranio Toxo.

On Greece's relations with FYROM, he said that the Greek government and the government of FYROM for a long time now share a specific quality in their relations and the Summit Meeting in Chalkidiki was the culmination for a number of efforts made by Greece.