Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Open Letter to Greek PM Regarding Greece's Blacklisting of Ethnic Macedonians


Dr. Georgios Nakratzas
Physician and author
Rotterdam - Holland

To: The Right Honourable Costas Simitis
Prime Minister of Greece
Rotterdam, 26 July 2003

Dear Sir,

On Wednesday 23 July 2003 we learnt to our surprise of the public statements made by the Governor of the Prefecture of Florina, Mr. G. Stratakis. According to these statements, the Greek government has made the following decisions in respect of political refugees:
a)On 10 August 03, 80 Macedonians will be denied admission to our country. (For political reasons these individuals have been placed on the blacklist, whose existence our government has hitherto denied).
b)No political refugee will be admitted into our country if the passport issued in his country of residence - Republic of Macedonia, Canada or Australia - does not state his birthplace in Greece, under its Greek name - i.e. the name of the village where he was born some 60 years ago.
c)The individuals in question will be allowed to remain in our country for no more than twenty days.
d)Finally, the Governor stated that no special reception ceremonies will be staged, but that if these individuals agree to meet him, he is prepared to receive them.

The Governor's statement provides official confirmation of the following:

1) Our government now officially confirms the existence of the blacklist, a list which is totally illegal for member states of the European Union. By preventing the return to Greece of these 80 blacklisted Macedonians, and by preventing them from even visiting the villages where they were born, on the grounds purely and simply that these individuals regard themselves as ethnic Macedonians, the Greek state is officially admitting a policy which requires that its citizens demonstrate a sense of Greek identity and Greek patriotic feeling. This is the same policy which was implemented during the Civil War and during the military dictatorship - when Papadopoulos threatened to place the whole Greek people 'in plaster' to cure them of their anarchic tendencies, and when undesirable individuals were exiled to the most barren of the Greek islands. We now see the government implementing a more refined version of the same policy - one which involves a lifetime exile abroad for these individuals, far from the village where they were born. There are even a number of members of the present government who were victims of this inhuman policy. It is particularly grotesque that the party forming the present government of Greece, PASOK, refers to itself as a socialist party - its members addressing one another, in all seriousness, as comrade!

2) Our government requires of people, most of whom do not even know Greek and left their villages at the age of 5-8, that they declare to the authorities of the state issuing their passport not the name of the village as they know it in their native language, but under the name imposed by the Greek government in 1917.

3) The period they may remain in Greece has been set at 20 days, instead of the period from 10 August to 30 October, as originally decided. It would be unthinkable for any of the more civilised and self-respecting countries of the European Union to reverse an official decision in this way.

4) Finally, the celebrations planned in Florina by the relatives of victims of the 'paidomazoma' - celebrations which would have involved singing and dancing and were to have been attended by the Governor, Mr. Stratakis, and the Minister, Mr. Lianis - have now been cancelled. At the remarkable celebrations held in the nearby village of Meliti, the young people danced and sang all night, singing Pontic and Macedonian songs alternately; it appears that this extraordinary peaceful demonstration was not to the liking of certain champions of the cold war and of hatred.

The Greek government's change of policy is described in the article by IOY journalists in the newspaper Eleftherotypia on 26-7-03. The journalists assert that:

The government retreat vindicates the professional alarmists and those who still regret the passing of the cold war, but also exposes to criticism the government officials who had announced the end of this last inheritance of the civil war.

These professional patriots were the 34 MPs of the right-wing New Democracy party, and the 3 socialist MPs from the PASOK party, led by the notorious champion of the patriotic cause, Mr. Papathemelis, whose family come from the Slav-speaking or formerly Slav-speaking village of Visoka, outside Thessaloniki.

In order to underline the shameless falsehoods employed by these apostles of hatred, I shall cite part of a parliamentary question put by the devout Mr. Papathemelis to the Minister for Foreign Affairs: 'These would-be compatriots of ours fought against the Greeks alongside the Germans and Bulgarians during the occupation…'.

Almost all those who fought in the Democratic Army have now passed away; the few still alive are old men, over 80 years old, and unlikely to come to Greece. If they do come, it is only from a desire to die in the village where they were born.

These men, who according to Papathemelis fought at the side of the Germans, were in fact just 5-8 years old at the time of the occupation; these are the victims of the so-called 'paidomazoma' who would be returning to their villages in Greece.

The professional patriots should be ashamed to deal in such falsehoods.

Dr. G. Nakratzas

P.S. An English translation of this letter will be circulated around the world, distributed to the 600 EMPs and to all the main NGOs.