Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
CEDIME-SE Guide to the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

Launch of a comprehensive and user-friendly guide to the FCNM texts, all related dates, state and NGO reports, opinions, state comments on opinions, Committee of Ministers resolutions, and other related documents.

The CEDIME-SE (Center of Documentation and Information on Minorities in Europe - Southeast Europe) Guide to the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM)
www.greekhelsinki.gr

The following are excerpts from the Greek Helsinki Monitor's 1999 report on Greece's non-compliance with the FCNM
The issue of minorities has remained very sensitive in Greece, as -if not more than-elsewhere in the Balkans. Acknowledging the presence of Turks, let alone Macedonians, in the country is widely perceived as a near-treason, and may lead to castigation, persecution or even prosecution of those who make such arguments. It is characteristic that even most of the -mere handful of- scholars like who mention the presence of such minorities feel compelled to use the terms "Turcophones” or "Slavophones” rather than Turks or Macedonians (Rozakis, op.cit. and Kourtovik, 1997 -the latter is a human rights activist and has even been the lawyer of many minority activists). Or, they call Greece's neighbor "state of Skopje” (London School of Economics Professor Nikos Mouzelis in "The pluses and minuses of Greek democracy” -"To Vima” 15/8/1999). Just as almost all media, politicians and intellectuals have constantly been referring to the "Albanophones” of Kosovo, even if the Belgrade regime, including Milosevic himself, calls them "Albanians.” In fact, when foreigners use any one of those three "inappropriate terms” they are frequently "corrected” or "edited” -with the use of quotation marks- in the television translation, the newspaper story, or even the scholarly publication. This happens almost always with the term Macedonia and Macedonians, near always with the Turkish minority and frequently with the Kosovo or Macedonia's Albanians.

Given official Greek policy, and the general situation described in Part I, persons belonging to the Macedonian and the Turkish national minorities do not have the right to freely choose to be treated as such, and many disadvantages may result from such choice or from the exercise of the rights which are connected to that choice. Moreover, in many cases, they cannot exercise these rights and enjoy the related freedoms in community with others.

Individual and associations calling themselves Macedonian or Turkish (and in one case Armonanian) have been repeatedly the objects of persecution, disciplinary action, prosecution, prison sentences, non-registration and dissolution.

Perhaps the most indicative case of both hostility and violence against minorities in recent years was the attack against and eventual sacking of the offices of the Macedonian minority party "Rainbow” in 1995. The perpetrators had not been brought to justice by mid-1999, unlike the "Rainbow” leaders who did face trial for the public use of their mother tongue. It is noteworthy that the witnesses of the prosecution included the local leaders of all five main Greek parties at the time (PASOK, ND, Political Spring, KKE, and Coalition); as well as leaders of professional associations (lawyers, merchants, priests, taxi drivers). Most of them, in their pre-trial depositions characterized the defendants as "paid agents of Skopjan propaganda”, "anti-Greeks”, etc. "Rainbow” opened an office on 6/9/1995 in Florina, with a sign mentioning "Rainbow - Florina Committee” in both Greek and Macedonian. On the evening and night of 13 (and early hours of 14)/9/1995, the office was attacked and eventually sacked by a 'mob', led by the mayor of Florina. Before the sacking, police acting on the prosecutor's order removed the sign, while the prosecutor announced the indictment of the Rainbow leaders for having incited discord among citizens through the use of the Macedonian language in their sign. No political party, nor any media condemned the sacking of the party offices. On the contrary it was praised by extreme right nationalistic papers like "Stohos” and "Chrysi Avghi,” whose members reportedly took part in the sacking. And the use of the bilingual sign was condemned by all mainstream political parties and other social groups: the local PASOK -socialist governing party- organization even initiated a court procedure, later withdrawn as it appeared that many signatures on it had been put without the knowledge of those concerned. The indictment said:

"Vasilis Romas, Costas Tasopoulos, Petros Vasiliadis, and Pavlos Voskopoulos are responsible for, having acted jointly and in public, in any way having caused and incited mutual hatred among the citizens, so that common peace was disturbed on September 6, 1995 in Florina. Specifically, in the aforementioned place and time, as legally representing the party with the name "Rainbow” ("Ouranio Toxo”), the four defendants hanged a sign in that party's office - in N. Hasou and St. Dragoumi streets. Among other words written therein, there were the words "Lerinski Komitet” written in a Slavic linguistic idiom. These words, in combination with the fact that they were written in a foreign language, in the specific Slavic linguistic idiom, provoked and incited discord among the area's citizens. The latter justifiably, besides other things, identify these words with an old terrorist organization of Slavic-speaking alien nationals which was active in the area and which, with genocide crimes, pillages and depredations against the indigenous Greek population, attempted the annihilation of the Greek element and the annexation of the greater area of the age-long Greek Macedonia to a neighboring country, which at the time was Greece's enemy.”

On 15/9/1998, the defendants were eventually acquitted, partly because the trial attracted international attention. A comprehensive file of the prosecution can be found in GHM & MRG-G "Greece Against Its Macedonian Minority: The 'Rainbow Trial'” (Athens: ETEPE, 1998). Charges pressed in 1995 by "Rainbow” leaders against suspected perpetrators of the sacking of the offices had not led to anyone's prosecution by mid-1999. (See the MHRMC's press release about Rainbow's new Macedonian language sign erected in 2002)