Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Rainbow Party (Vinozhito) Hosts Symbolic Reception for Macedonian Political Refugees

Source: Rainbow/Vinozhito

On 20 August 2003 a symbolic reception took place in Lerin/Florina to welcome those Macedonian political refugees permitted entry to Greece on the basis of a recent decision by the Greek Foreign Ministry.

The event was organized by the Reception Committee, which was composed of the refugees' family members residing in Greece and Rainbow party officials. We believe that the repeal of the racist provision of the Ministerial Decision of Law 1266/1982, which excludes Macedonian political refugees of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) from the right of repatriation, and the positive settlement of this problem, will have both a humanitarian and a political dimension.

The first dimension ought to be to promote the idea that Greece should unconditionally respect the universal human values and fundamental human rights, such as the right to return, to live and to die in the country of one's birth. The second dimension ought perhaps to be to signal the change in attitude in Greek politics concerning the issue of the national identity of today's Greek citizen. The notion of "citizen” should play the primary role, as opposed to the view and political policy that has existed up to now, which has national purity and the homogenization of the state as a precondition to its prosperity. At the same time, the positive solution to the problem of Macedonian political refugees would provide a stimulus to Greek society to positively consider the issues of respect for the cultural, linguistic and ethnic rights of all Greek citizens.

However, state agencies have reneged on their promises for a definitive settlement of the problem of Macedonian political refugees, as witnessed in statements made these past few months by Foreign Ministry officials. This, and the reactions of nationalistic and conservative political circles unfortunately shows the rigid ideology, the insecurity, the prejudices, the phobias, the political immaturity, and the introversion still possessed by the greater sector of Greek society and its political representatives.

At the welcoming reception in Florina, a negative impression was made by the absence of representation from those organizations of Greek political refugees who repatriated in 1982, of the local authorities, and of various political party deputies and organizations that had been invited to participate.

We would like to point out to our government that there is no such thing as humanitarian measures by installments. We refer to the anti-democratic measure of selective entry, which allowed the possibility of visitation only to those political refugees whose places of birth are not written in their original form (the Greek state changed the original place names in 1926 and 1928 as part of its policy of national homogenization) and restricted their stay to only twenty (20) days in Greece.

Rainbow has not in hesitated in the past, nor will it cease in the future to condemn those Macedonian sociopolitical movements that expressed expansionist ideas. We therefore once again call upon our government and our fellow democratic Greek citizens to join us in discussing an approach to the issues of respect for diversity and the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece.

We want a democratic Greece in which all citizens have equality and dignity. We want a modern European country that respects minority rights through the implementation of European and international conventions. We hope that the political arena will finally transcend the stereotypes and prejudice that impede the course of Europe and the overall democratization of our country.