Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Vinozhito Press Release On Recent Statements by Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos

Rainbow/Vinozhito - Press Release

Greek President, Kostis Stephanopoulos, gave the following statement in his recent official meeting with the members of the Greek Community in Genk, Belgium:

In regards to the relations with the neighboring states and in regards to the Republic of Macedonia, which he referred to as "FYROM," he stated that this country (Macedonia) poses a threat to Greece on both a cultural and national level, with its talk of occupied parts of Macedonia which are in Greece and Bulgaria, and that furthermore this country has expansionist aspirations and that it has no right to use the name Macedonia because that is purely a Greek name which belongs solely to Greece.

He also commented on his background stating that he is from Patras, but at the same is also from, as he stated (and we quote) "the two most occupied Greek Territories of Northern Epirus* and Cyprus".

Finally! The time has come for the President to show his true face, now that he is ending his mandate. We are saddened that he made such a statement, not as a citizen of Greece, but as the highest representative of the country within the framework of an official visit to a foreign country.

We will not comment on the increasingly humorous statements made by the President in regards to the Republic of Macedonia, because such statements are not treated seriously within Europe. However, we must comment on his expansionist statements against two sovereign states: Albania and Cyprus.

According to you, Mr. President, Southern Albania or Northern Epirus, as you refer to it, and Cyprus are occupied Greek territories, are they not? In that case why don't you outline how they need to be liberated?

These statements are not only nationalist, spreading hatred between different peoples, but are also very dangerous for the security of the region.

In our experience the statements made by Mr. Stephanopoulos are not surprising. We are also not surprised that the members of the other parties as well as of the mass media in Greece remain silent and do not comment on nor judge these statements. The reason is that in reality a large segment of the political forces in Greece and Greek society, agree with such statements and have a similar ideology. This may be seen and may be proven by the fact that Mr. Stephanopoulos will be replaced by Mr. Papulias, who is seen as a "dignified" successor of nationalist ideologies and "appropriate" policies. The wide consensus and agreement for his appointment/voting in to the highest office of the country shows an agreement and a willingness to continue with Mr. Stephonopoulos' ideology and policies, which Mr. Papulias already carried out as a member of PASOK and as the former Minister of Foreign Affairs to Greece.

This was especially true during the time of the Yugoslavian crises of the past decade when he worked closely and co-operatively with - the currently undergoing trial at the Hague - former president Slobodan Milosevic and his favorite henchmen, Mladic and Karadjic, who are still being hunted by the international community for crimes against humanity. He was also doing this as a minister, furthering his so-called policies of the "Orthodox Axis".

The appointment and the vote for the new president perfectly illustrates the political condition within today's Greece, in other words the political currents, which today govern Greek society.

The majority of the political currents, the currents of the "Orthodox Axis" are growing not vertically - as the current Greek parties claim (left, center, right, etc.) - but horizontally in all the political structures with the main political features, the aggressive nationalism which is often times labeled under the term "patriotism", the anti-Turkish prejudices and the unproductive anti-Western and anti-European character. Additionally, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and racist ideologies and behavior are becoming more and more prominent.

This current not only disallows the European ideology of battling petty nationalism with ongoing European Integration, but it also openly sabotages the European option, desperately trying to bring in bilateral issues of petty nationalist interest to the wider European Political Agenda. Greece is constantly trying to further this policy by continually brining in the Cyprus problem as well as the relations between Turkey and the EU, however recently, it also is trying to do the same thing with different interventions to the European institutions in regards to the Republic of Macedonia. It is trying desperately to add conditions in this country's ability to enter the European Union by adding that it cannot enter if there is no "solution of the argument" in regards to the name.

For the defenders of this ideology, the European Union and on a wider scope Europe as a whole, are seen only as useful political instruments to be used for blackmail over Turkey, and from an economic standpoint, only as a rich partner who constantly must be closing the financial deficits of the unproductive, non-industrialized and weakly modernized Greek economy.

The European Free Alliance - Rainbow as a part of the minority and essentially the European political current in Greece, presently enunciating itself from small political-party means and individuals within the framework of Greek society, is continuing its fight for the true Europeanization of Greek society and for the development of the political democracy within the country.


*Note: the term Northern Epirus is used by Greek Nationalists to refer to Southern Albania.