Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
A Decade After ECHR Judgment, Greece Continues To Refuse Registration Of The Home Of Macedonian Culture

Macedonian Minority in GreeceJuly 10, 2008 marked the 10th anniversary of the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case of Sidiropoulos and Others vs. Greece (ECtHR, 57/1997/841/8107) in which the court ruled that Greece's refusal to register the Home of Macedonian Culture constituted a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

The European Free Alliance - Rainbow deplores the fact that a decade after a Strasbourg judgement and almost 20 years after the original application, Greek courts continue to refuse to register this cultural association.

Background information
In 1990, a group of Greek citizens decided to form a non-profit making organisation called the "Home of Macedonian Culture” in the town of Florina/Lerin. The group proceeded to register the association with the Florina Court of First Instance. The court rejected application asserting that the objective of the association was to promote the idea that "there is a Macedonian minority in Greece, which is contrary to the national interest and subsequently contrary to the law”. A subsequent appeal to the Court of Appeal in Thessaloniki/Solun also failed. In 1994 the highest court in Greece upheld the decision of the lower court. The applicants then appealed the matter to European Court of Human Rights. In 1998, the court found that Greece violated the ECHR.

Following the Strasbourg ruling the applicant tried once again to register the association but again failed. In 2003, the local court in Florina/Lerin again refused to register the association on the same grounds as previously stated i.e. that there is no Macedonian minority, etc. The matter was then appealed the regional court which upheld the decision; again ignoring the Strasbourg judgement. The matter is currently before the Supreme Court of Greece and if past decisions are any indication of what the court is likely to decide, justice will almost certainly have to be sought once again in Strasbourg.

The European Free Alliance - Rainbow is appalled the Greek state continues to deny members of its ethnic Macedonians minority the right to freedom of association. We continue to urge the Council of Europe and the European Union to ensure that Greece complies with its obligations under the ECHR and fully executes all judgments from the ECHR.

The Press Office of EFA - Rainbow