UMDiaspora provides documentation to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the state sponsored discrimination against Macedonian minorities in Greece. In addition, UMDiaspora encourages the U.S. to continue its support to Republic of Macedonia after formally recognizing the country under its constitutional name on November 4th, 2004.
July 1st 2005
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
To The Esteemed Secretary, Ms. Condoleezza Rice:
The purpose of this letter is: a) to underscore state sponsored discrimination against minorities because of their race, skin color, creed, national origin, or respective religion by the Greek government; and, b) to encourage the United States to remain firm on its policy decision recognizing the country of Macedonia, under Macedonia’s constitutional name, “Republic of Macedonia.”
The morally correct decision to recognize the Republic of Macedonia, by the Bush Administration, stirred much controversy from the country of Greece, and it stirred much controversy from many Greek-Americans, such as Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME). The primary problem, as the Greek government presents it, is that The Republic of Macedonia has nothing to do with the “cultural heritage of ancient Macedonia.”
Conversely, the real problem with recognizing Macedonia (as presented by oppressed Greek citizens, as presented by the U.S. Department of State 2004 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, and according to the United Nations Human Rights Committee) is the systematic state sponsored civil rights discrimination by the Greek government and the specific “unwillingness of the [Greek] government to allow any private groups or associations to use associational names that include the appellation …Macedonian, based upon the state party’s assertion that there are no ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities in Greece…” who are in fact of Macedonian national origin or ethnicity.
Moreover, “[t]he [U.N.] committee notes that individuals belonging to such minorities have a right under the Covenant (the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Human Rights, article 27) to the enjoyment of their own culture, the profession and practice of their own religion, and the use of their own language in community with other members of their group.”
In the United States, all Americans, despite the color of their skin, creed, national origin, or their religion, are generally free from unconstitutional state sponsored discrimination. Equally, it is important that minorities of Macedonian national origin living in Greece be free from unconstitutional discrimination because of their creed, religion, or national origin. We live in a day and age where state sponsored hatred based on ethnic discrimination is absolutely intolerable. Civil rights discrimination, including Anti-Semitic or religious discrimination by Greece is not consistent with American foreign and domestic policy; moreover, the United States should not acquiesce to any government that uses such horrid and detestable tools of societal oppression.
The following excerpts and attestations are directly from an April 26, 2005 letter drafted by Greek citizens who are being discriminated against because of their Macedonian ethnicity, national origin, or their Macedonian religion. The letter was delivered to the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, to the Commissioner on EU Enlargement, and to the 25 Ministers of the EU countries, as well.
As Greek and European citizens we are obliged to point out that today the key to this so-called “Macedonian issue” lies elsewhere, and not in the conceptual and linguistic objections of the Greek government. The problem that the Greek government diligently conceals is its (as well as Bulgaria’s) refusal to recognize the existence and to respect the rights of the Macedonian nation. This of course also entails the refusal to recognize the existence and the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece. The problem as the Greek government presents it has nothing to do with the so called “cultural heritage of ancient Macedonia”, or that a portion of the Greek territory bears the administrative name of the District of Macedonia and the neighbor state calls itself also Macedonia or the Republic of Macedonia.
What the Greek government stubbornly refuses to admit is that it does not agree with the ethnic use of the terms “Macedonia,” or “Macedonian” because of the existence of the Macedonian minority in Greece. Greek politicians maintain that the Macedonian minority in Greece is likely in the future to rise up with separatist demands. This – and not the name of the Republic of Macedonia – is the real and diachronic problem for every Greek government. However, if the Greek government admits this, then it must also proceed with corresponding measures to recognize and respect the rights of the minority – which, unfortunately, it does not currently do. We believe that it is precisely the contrary policy – i.e. the repression and violation of a minority’s rights – that leads to unrest and disturbances of the peace. The former Yugoslavia taught us this lesson not very long ago.
To quote the famous American civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, “[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The injustice against minorities by the Greek government cannot and should not continue. On June 23 2005 President George Bush forwarded a letter to Congress noting his concern as to “acts obstructing the Ohrid Framework Agreement of 2001 in the Republic of Macedonia” and “[t]he crisis constituted by the actions of person engaged in, or assisting, sponsoring, or supporting (i) extremist violence in the Republic of Macedonia, and elsewhere in the Western Balkans region…” To this end, the extremist acts of the Greek government (as documented by Greek citizens, by the United Nations, and by the U.S. Department of State) require international oversight, international investigation, and international intervention.
The Bush Administration and the Republic of Macedonia both deserve praise in their partnership to eliminate ethnic discrimination in the Balkans. Moreover, former United States Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia, the esteemed Lawrence Butler, has stated numerous times how America views Macedonia, the Macedonian government, and the Macedonian people. “Today it [Macedonia] stands out as the Balkans only multiethnic, multicultural society. It has [a] truly multicultural, multiethnic government,” says Ambassador Butler. Accordingly, the Greek government should learn by example from its neighbor, the Republic of Macedonia. Thus, any attempts by the Greek government to detract attention from their documented state sponsored violations of civil and human rights against minorities cannot and should not go unnoticed; specifically, it is these civil rights violations by Greece that are at the heart of the Macedonia name issue.
Bipartisan support underscoring the need to end oppression against minorities by the Greek government is strongly urged. Any talks relating to the Macedonia name issue must incorporate, and focus on, the discrimination of the Macedonian minority in Greece, as well. At the end of the day, a country’s official name generally poses very little harm to ordinary people, but the harm posed by turning a blind eye to bigotry, prejudice, and fanaticism allows discrimination to thrive. Please help stop the discrimination by supporting the Republic of Macedonia and all affected minorities in Greece and the greater Balkans.
Steve Gligorov, Esq.
Civil Rights Advocate
United Macedonian Diaspora
1. Letter By Greek Citizens to EU Council of Foreign Ministers (26 April 2005), 2. Letter from the President of the United States to Congress (23 June 2005), 3. U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices (2004), 4. Concluding Observations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (Eighty-third Session 31 March 2005), 5. Greek Helsinki Monitor-Minority Rights Group Press Release (18 April 2005), 6. United Nations Information Services-Human Rights Committee Concludes Review of Report by Greece (24 March 2005).
1. (President Bush Letter)
2. (United Nations Information Service)
3. (Letter by Greek Citizens of Macedonian Ethnicity)
4. (U.S. Department of State Country Report: Greece)
5/6. (United Nations Recommendations on Greek Discrimination)
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