Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
International Panel Discussion in the European Parliament on the Turkish and Macedonian minorities in Greece

Panel Discussion On Thursday 17 April 2008, the European Free Alliance - European Political Party in cooperation with the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), European Free Alliance - Rainbow (Macedonian minority of Greece) and the Federal Union of the European Nationalities (FUEN) will be organising an international panel discussion in the European Parliament in Brussels on the "Ignored Minorities in Greece: Western Thrace Turks and Macedonians.” The event will be held in Meeting Room A5G2 from 15.00 until 18.00.

Guest speakers at this event will include Hans Heinrich Hansen (Panel Chair) (President, Federal Union of European Nationalities), Halit Habipoglu (President, Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe, Nelly Maes (President, European Free Alliance - European Political Party), Asst. Prof. Dr. Halim Cavusoglu (Department of Sociology, Hacettepe University ), Pavlos Filipov Voskopoulos (Member of the Central Council of EFA-Rainbow, political party of the Macedonian Minority in Greece), Helene Flautre MEP* (Chair, Subcommittee on Human Rights, European Parliament), Dr. Csaba Sandor Tabajdi MEP* (Chair, Intergroup for Traditional National Minorities, Constitutional Regions and Regional Languages), Boriss Cilevics (Member of the PACE, Chair, Sub-Committee on Rights of Minorities) Panayote Dimitras (Spokesperson, Greek Helsinki Monitor) and Mikel Irujo Amezaga MEP (Greens/EFA Group).

Background information on the Turkish and Macedonian minorities of Greece

The Greek state systematically discriminates against the Turkish minority and denies the ethnic identity of the minority, which whether acquired by birth or through acculturation, is Turkish. Greece prefers to use the term "Muslim minority”, a concept based on the Lausanne Peace Treaty and on the rejection of a "Turkish” identity. Greece's refusal to accept the minority's Turkish identity has ranged from banning civic organisations bearing the adjective "Turkish” in their titles - as in the case of "Turkish Union of Xanthi”- to prosecuting individuals who publicly identified the minority as "Turkish”.

The Macedonian minority of Greece is concentrated in the northern part of the country. Although the Macedonian language is spoken by a large number of persons, it is in danger of becoming extinct as it does not enjoy official state recognition and therefore is not taught in the education system. Furthermore, Macedonian speakers and indeed persons expressing a Macedonian ethnic identity have been persecuted by Greek authorities. Greek courts on multiple occasions since 1989 have refused to register the cultural association "Home of Macedonian Culture”.

* speaker to be confirmed