Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Press Release
ECRI Meeting with Macedonian Organizations in Bulgaria

On May 7, 2003, in Sofia, Bulgaria, activists of the Macedonian organizations in the Pirin part of Macedonia had a meeting with the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) [www.coe.int/ecri].

ECRI is an independent human rights monitoring mechanism, which was established by the first "Summit of Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Council of Europe" (October 1993). ECRI's task is to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at the pan-European level and in the perspective of the protection of human rights. In the framework of its country-by-country approach, ECRI closely examines the situation in each of the member states of the Council of Europe and draws up, following this analysis, suggestions and proposals as to how the problems of racism and intolerance identified in each country might be dealt with.

As part of its third round of country-by-country reports, during the visit to Bulgaria from May 7-10, 2003, ECRI requested a meeting with the Macedonian organizations. At the meeting, which took place at the Information and Documentation Centre of the Council of Europe (Alexander Zhendov 5, BG 1113 Sofia), ECRI was represented by Mr. Vitaliano Esposito, ECRI member from Italy, Mr. Joseph Voyame, ECRI member from Switzerland, and Ms. Claudia Sciotti, member of ECRI's Secretariat with two (French/Bulgarian) translators.

The delegation of the Macedonian activists was composed by Ivan Singartiski, president of OMO Ilinden-Pirin, Botyo Vangelov, president of OMO-Pirin, while "Sonce”, the Association of the Islamicized Macedonians was represented by its president Damjan Iskrenov and the Board member Andon Iskrenov.

The Macedonian activists conveyed to the ECRI delegation the problems that Macedonians face in Bulgaria in respect of the rights of organization, association and Bulgaria's unwillingness to grant the Macedonians and other ethnic groups in Bulgaria the recognition of minority status with their own separate ethnicity, languages, cultures and religions.

Dragi Stojkovski
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Address: 157 Adelaide St. West, Suite 434, Toronto, Canada M5H 4E7
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