On July 18th, 2006, Nelly Maes, the President of the European Free Alliance sent a letter to Olli Rehn, the Commissioner of Enlargement of the European Commission in reference to Bulgaria’s denial to recognize its quite large ethnic Macedonian minority urging him to monitor the situation.
Mr. Commissioner of the European Commission,
As President of the European Free Alliance (EFA), I allow myself to talk about the Macedonians in Bulgaria represented by the party OMO Ilinden PIRIN and the difficulties they have to live through. This party was founded on the 12th of February 1999, but afterwards banned by the Bulgarian Authorities. The OMO Ilinden PIRIN officials and its members have been prosecuted from the year 1990 onwards, when they founded the first OMO PIRIN association.
Having been informed of the last judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), I am happy to hear that the ban of this party will have to be lifted.
As the ECHR declared (20.10.2005):
The ECHR stated that: “the Bulgarian government, even after a first judgement of this same court, failed to assure the right of association of the OMO PIRIN.”
“In a democratic society based on the rule of law, political ideas which challenged the existing order and whose realisation was advocated by peaceful means had to be afforded a proper opportunity of expression through the exercise of the right of assembly, as well as by other lawful means.”
In Delchev on the 25th of June 2006, the members of OMO Ilinden PIRIN elected a new leadership in order to re-register their party. This caused hysteria in the press and some officials thought it was necessary to threaten the collective group of Macedonians living in Bulgaria, using words as “ethnic group”. The municipality adviser in Varna, Veselin Danov, said that “THEY have to be shot on the street”, the deputies Boris Iachev and Krasimir Karakachanov called “that THEY have to be send straight into prison” and the mayor of Blagoevgrad, Lazar Prichkapov requested “all Macedonians to be expelled from Bulgaria”.
Some parties denied the right to OMO Ilinden PIRIN to register although the highest EU Court has already declared twice that it is the parties right to do so. We believe that this climate of hatred is not beneficial to anyone and on the other side we sincerely believe that a swift recognition of the mentioned party could lead to more mutual respect in the Bulgarian state.
Our request therefore, to the European Commission, is to monitor, in the framework of the accession talks, the rights of all peaceful and democratic parties, associations or organisations who represent the people or specifically minority groups to register. They have the right to respect, to their own opinion and to gather peacefully. Most particularly we ask you to monitor the situation in the following weeks enabling the OMO Ilinden PIRIN party to register.
Bulgaria is likely to become an EU member, and for all the above mentioned reasons, I would like to request you to promote the recognition of the Macedonian minority at state level in Bulgaria and to grant them support them so that they can benefit from all the rights guaranteed under the framework convention of minorities.
I remain at your entire disposal for any request you would like to make concerning this issue.
President of the European Free Alliance
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