Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Still No Official Greek Response to Two Cancellations of the Vinozhito-Rainbow Congress

Eurolang - The European News Agency for Minority Languages

by Georgios N. Papadakis

Nearly a month after the second cancellation of the 'Vinozhito-Rainbow' (V-R) Congress which was supposed to be held in Edessa/Voden (northern Greece), there has been no official or unofficial reaction from the Greek government or any other state representative.

No response has also been given to the letters that Nelly Maes MEP and European Free Alliance President, addressed to the Prime Minister Mr. Kostas Simitis on this matter. This of course may have been expected considering that the country is approaching parliamentary elections where every statement could be crucial to the final outcome.

Pavle Voskopoulos (Pavle Filipov in Macedonian), a 'V-R' representative, stated that this silence comes as no surprise since government and local officials never express in public what they sometimes admit privately when talking to ethnic Macedonians living in Greece.

Mr. Voskopoulos seemed convinced that the Congress will eventually take place in Edessa/ Voden and added that the Political Secretariat of the party will decide in the next few weeks about the actions the party is going to take towards this direction.

The events in the Greek town, situated in a region where many ethnic Macedonians live, received almost no coverage from the mainstream Greek media. And this happened although Greek Helsinki Monitor was at the same time celebrating its 10th anniversary with representatives from international organizations such as the Council of Europe, Minority Rights Group International, and SEEMO/IPI. The EFA also dedicated part of its related press conference to the incidents.

The strong reaction against the Congress may have been whipped up by the inflammatory headlines of two ultra-right newspapers like 'Eleftheros Kosmos' and 'Stohos'. They used vulgar terms to describe the V-R Congress and urged their readers to take action against 'anti-Greek acts'.