UMD Dismayed at CoE Committee of Ministers Resolution to Override ECHR Judgement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 2, 2009 – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) expressed dismay over a December 1, 2009 resolution passed by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers regarding the registration of the political party of the ethnic Macedonian national minority in Bulgaria, OMO Ilinden PIRIN.  The resolution encourages OMO Ilinden PIRIN to go through the Bulgarian legal system again and re-register the party under the new Bulgarian law for political parties.  This resolution contradicts the October 20, 2005 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (United Macedonian Organization Ilinden – PIRIN and others against Bulgaria), in which the Court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights.  To date, Bulgaria has not implemented the ECHR judgment to allow the registration of OMO Ilinden PIRIN as a political party.

“It is sad when political machinations overpower court verdicts” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski.  “This resolution defies the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights and sends the process back through the long corridors of the registration process in Bulgaria.  Even with that judgment, successive Bulgarian governments have refused registration and this latest decision in their favor will only serve to further ethnic division, rather than promote inter-ethnic harmony, which has always been a hallmark European value.” 

OMO Ilinden PIRIN was registered as a political party in Bulgaria in 1999 but was outlawed by the Bulgarian Constitutional Court after less than one year.  Since then, the party has attempted numerous times to re-register with no success.   Each time they have tried to register, Bulgaria passed a new law for political parties and each time OMO Ilinden PIRIN met the requirements of the new law.  On October 20, 2005, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg condemned Bulgaria for violating the freedom of assembly and association, according to Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights.  Despite the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, successive Bulgarian governments have continued to deny the registration of OMO Ilinden PIRIN.

OMO Ilinden PIRIN’s primary goal is to improve living standards and achieve equality for ethnic Macedonians living in Bulgaria.  Bulgaria has a long-standing policy of denying the existence of an ethnic Macedonian national minority within its borders.  UMD urges Bulgaria to come to terms with its past and recognize the existence of a distinct ethnic Macedonian national minority within its borders.

Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is the leading international non-governmental organization addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., UMD has an office in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada and representatives in Paris, London, Brussels, Vienna, Kiev, St. Petersburg, and Stuttgart.

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