The Macedonian Tendency: Balkan Insight on Macedonians in Greece.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Balkan Insight on Macedonians in Greece.

By David Edenden

Balkan Insight is a child of the International Crisis Group, (ICG) a pseudo human rights group that promotes US interests around the world. It sponsors seminars on journalism and one of the main lessons is the "he who pays the piper, calls the tunes". Even though Balkan Insight is run by local people, including Macedonians, this is one of the few articles dealing with the rights of Macedonians in Greece, which until recently has been off limits to the ICG.

It is a testament of the power of the the US and EU that local people can be recruted to work against the interests of their own country and for the interest of foreigners.

Whether this article is an indications of things to come or just an aberration, we will have to wait to see.

Skopje Asks for Macedonian Rights in Greece: -

14 July 2008 Skopje _ Skopje has sent a letter to Athens asking for the recognition of the Macedonian minority in Greece and the return of property to Macedonian refugees who were forced to flee.

In the letter signed by Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski addressed to his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis, Gruevski refers to the exodus of Macedonians who fled northern Greece during the 1946-1949 Greek Civil War. Gruevski urged Athens to allow them to acquire the property they left behind in Greece.

Some historians estimate that more than 100,000 ethnic Macedonians in northern Greece fled the country as the war between the right-wing monarchist government and the Democratic Army of Greece, a branch of the Communist party, took hold.

“Large parts of these people, most of them ethnic Macedonians born in Greece, came to live in the then Socialist Yugoslavia or in parts of today’s Republic of Macedonia to be exact,” Gruevski writes. “They have stayed here ever since, probably influenced by the fact that they spoke the same language and felt as part of the same people, the Macedonians.”

Athens does not recognise those who fled as Macedonians and refuses to issue citizenship to them or to their descendants.

In addition Gruevski urged Athens to recognise the existence of the Macedonian minority on its territory and to grant them the right to education in their own language as well as the right to foster their culture and traditions.

In 1998 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that Greece contravened the European Human Rights convention with its refusal to allow the opening of a Macedonian cultural centre in the northern town of Florina.

Greek courts still refuse to register the centre, Rainbow - the party led by the unrecognised Macedonian minority in Greece, told media.

However Athens claims that only several hundred people in Greece support the position of the party and that they can not be called a minority.

“We all know that a political will is needed to solve these problems. I believe that you will have that will as a democratic country and a member state of the European Union and NATO,” Gruevski writes.

A solution to these problems would “enable the creation of a better future for the both people,” Gruevski added, arguing that when it comes to human and minority rights and the protection of private property, a strict following of international standards is essential.

Relations between the two countries hit a new low in April when Athens blocked Skopje’s NATO accession saying the country should change its name first. Greece argues that Macedonia’s name might imply territorial claims towards its own northern province with the same name.

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