Washington, D.C. – The United Macedonian Diaspora is gravely concerned over the recent statements made by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in an exclusive interview for the Macedonian daily newspaper Dnevnik in which she stated “I am proud of the capacity of Greek democracy. All citizens of Greece have equal rights. I am sure that you already know that in Greece there is only one minority in Western Thrace and those are the Muslims. There is no such thing as ‘a Macedonian minority.’”
Ms. Bakoyannis’ statements are blatant lies and as such, insults to the human rights reports duly and objectively recorded by the U.S. Department of State, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Council of Europe, Greek Helsinki Monitor, and other respected advocates of human and civil rights on the Macedonian national minority in Greece. The United Macedonian Diaspora is very troubled that Ms. Bakoyannis, a person of significant achievements and diplomatic skills, would ignore the internationally recognized fact that within her country’s borders, there exists a Macedonian national minority in areas where they have lived for centuries.
Greece has not only denied the existence of a Macedonian national minority but has systematically denied its rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religious association. It is deeply regrettable that a member of the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the United Nations, from a state that claims to be the cradle of democracy, denies the existence of minorities within its borders, including the Macedonian, Turkish, Albanian, Vlach, Jewish, and Roma groups. Greece, although a signatory, has yet to ratify the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, placing it far outside the mainstream of European norms. Greece’s failure to do so is a testament to its attempt to diminish its responsibilities in relation to human rights.
The United Macedonian Diaspora calls upon Ms. Bakoyannis and the Greek government to officially recognize the Macedonian national minority within its borders, Greek citizens nonetheless, a minority with their own Macedonian language and culture, and to finally end this charade. In addition, our organization calls upon the Greek parliament to ratify the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities unconditionally. Furthermore, the United Macedonian Diaspora urges the international community to continue to put diplomatic pressure on Greece in their efforts to recognize all minorities living within its borders and to allow the thousands of Macedonian refugees exiled during the Greek Civil War to return to their homes where they can receive just repatriation and restitution for their private properties, which were illegally confiscated.
The United Macedonian Diaspora would like to emphasize that under the rule of international law, there is no precedent granting any government the power or authority to dictate to another sovereign state what that other state’s name is or should be. The United Macedonian Diaspora urges the United Nations, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and those countries that have not yet done so, to confer full diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name.
Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora is an international membership organization based in Washington, D.C. addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.
For more information about United Macedonian Diaspora the public is invited to contact the D.C. office at (202) 294-3400, or e-mail at [email protected]