Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
European Free Alliance Responds to Cancellation of Vinozhito Congress

European Free Alliance in the European Parliament - Press Release
Greece Must Remain True to Olympic Ideals - No Room for Intimidation and Threats

Nelly Maes MEP, The President of the European Free Alliance group of MEPs has expressed her concern at the security situation in Greece with regard to human rights and civil liberties following the forced cancellation over the weekend of a political conference. The annual congress of the Rainbow party, which represents the Macedonian minority in Greece, was cancelled after repeated threats and intimidation against individuals responsible for organising the event.

Nelly Maes, President of EFA in the European Parliament, has issued a written statement in support of the Rainbow party. In it, Nelly Maes criticises the failure to protect the process of democracy and calls for the Greek government to ratify the European Convention for the Protection of National Minorities - particularly in the context of the forthcoming Olympic Games in Athens 2004 which have the motto "For a civilisation of the civilisations".

The full text of the statement issues by Nelly Maes is copied below:

Is there a place for democratic minorities in Greece?

In the name of the EFA (European Free Alliance) we would like to express our concern regarding the difficulties of the Rainbow-Vinozhito a member party of EFA - DPPE.

We are appalled by the fact that the congress of Rainbow was cancelled twice owing to personal threats and pressure from the extremist circles. In a fully democratic society any practices resulting with political discriminations should be despised and prosecuted. We are concerned by the fact that openly xenophobic, racist and neo-nazi organizations are legal and their ideologies are tolerated in Greece which is a member of a European Union. Such movements were involved in intimidations that occurred in the city of Edessa / Voden where the Rainbow - Vinozhito party was to hold its congress.

Unfortunately, owing to threats mentioned above the party was refused any place in that town and therefore the congress had to be cancelled.

Our two letters to Greek Prime Minister Mr. Kostas Simitis, asking for an assistance to the Rainbow party in preparation of the congress as well as for safeguarding security to all the participants of the event remained without any response. However, we would like to express our hope that the Olympic Games which are to be held in Athens in 2004 under a motto "For a civilization of the civilizations” will give a positive impact on Greece to ratify the European Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Charter for Minority an Regional Languages.

We believe that this would enable the Macedonian national minority in Greece to find its proper place within the Greek society and to contribute in strengthening democracy in your country.

With the highest respect,

Nelly Maes, MEP
President, European Free Alliance
Vice-president Greens/European Free Alliance group in the EP