Two statements: incident on Greek-Macedonian border crossing


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Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 21:47:42 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Two statements: incident on Greek-Macedonian border crossing

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: Meto Jovanovski <helkom@soros.org.mk>

Two statements: incident on Greek-Macedonian border crossing


------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Mon, 20 Jul 1998 10:28:05 -0400
From:          Bill Nicholov <nicholov@sympatico.ca>
      MHRMC Press Release - July 20, 1998

 
Press Release - July 20, 1998
 
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
 
Border Crossing into Greece - Association of Refugee Children from
Aegean Macedonia

The Second World Reunion of the Association of Refugee Children from
Aegean Macedonia began on July 15, 1998 in the Republic of Macedonia
and was scheduled to end with an historic trip to Edessa (Voden)
Greece on July 19, 1998.

The former child refugees, evacuated from Greece during the Civil War
of 1946-49, have consistently been denied entry into Greece simply
because they assert their Macedonian ethnic identity. Former child
refugees who assert a Greek identity have been allowed to return to
Greece.

Several hundred Macedonians, under the supervision of a number of
human rights organizations including the Greek Helsinki Monitor, the
Macedonian Helsinki Committee and the Rainbow Party, attempted to
cross the border from the Republic of Macedonia into Florina (Lerin)
Greece on the morning of July 19, 1998. After being held up
unnecessarily for several hours at the border and having their
personal belongings examined, most of these people were allowed entry.
The Greek government seemed intent on delaying the celebrations
planned in Edessa (Voden) as the expression of Macedonian culture is
not tolerated in Greece.

However, approximately 30 people, including the executive of the
Association of Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia (from Canada)
were denied entry and given no reason by the Greek government. These
people do not have criminal records and as Canadian citizens do not
require visas to visit Greece. The Greek government turned them back
only because of their involvement in Macedonian organizations overseas
and because they assert a Macedonian ethnic identity.
 
The MHRMC and ARCAM call on the international community to condemn
Greece's actions and to apply pressure on the Greek government to
comply with all human rights conventions to which it is a signatory
and allow these ethnic Macedonians to freely cross the border into
Greece.

Bill Nicholov
Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada
P.O. Box 44532
2376 Eglinton Avenue East
Toronto, Canada
M1K 5K3
Tel. 416-202-8866
Fax 416-412-3385
nicholov@sympatico.ca
mail@mhrmc.on.ca
http://www.mhrmc.on.ca

--------------------
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia

Statement for the public opinion

DISCRIMINATION AT MACEDONIA-GREECE BORDER

The international organization Macedonian Children-Refugees from the
Civil War in Greece was making notification of the 50 years of their
expulsion from their places of birth in Aegean Macedonia, Greece,
during the period of 15-19 July 1998 with a commemoration. For that
occasion, as planned in the program, an organized group of
participants with three buses and several cars decided to visit their
places of birth in Greece. 

However, at the border crossing Medzitlija-Niki, between Bitola and
Lerin (Florina), the former children-refugees, because of the strict
selection by the Greek authorities, were blocked for almost five hours
whereby 30 persons were denied entrance in Greece, out of whom 14 were
holders of Canadian passport, 11 holders of Australian passport, 2
holders of Czech passport, 1 holder of Ukrainian passport, 1 holder of
Polish passport and 1 holder of Romanian passport. 

The number of persons who wanted to visit their places of birth would
have been ever much higher if the Liaison Office of the Republic of
Greece in Skopje did not apply a strict selection visa regime for
those born in Greece. Individuals have complained to the Macedonian
Helsinki Committee that the Liaison Office of the Republic of Greece
in Skopje even would not issue at all visas to those born in Greece
until 3 August 1998, meaning until Ilinden (St. Elias' Day), the
Macedonian national holiday that is also celebrated by Macedonians in
Greece. The persons with foreign passports were denied entrance in
Greece mainly because of two reasons: if the place of birth in the
passport is written with the Macedonian toponym, not with the Greek
one, and if the person has been registered by the competent Greek
services as a well-known activist of the Organization of
children-refugees. The Greek border authorities mark the passports of
these persons with a special seal that is different from the regular
one in that it has two crossed lines or with another seal with the
Greek word: AGURO. 

The international Organization of children-refugees from the Civil War
in Greece consists of 30 000 persons who as children were displaced
throughout the former communist countries: from Skopje to Tashkent,
and from Budapest to Warsaw. Few of them stayed to live in the former
communist countries. The most of them have returned to the Republic of
Macedonia and now are its citizens, or have fled and settled in
Australia, Canada, USA and the countries of Europe and where they are
now more than 50 years old, but their families are also members and
activists of this Organization. They are linked by the fact that they
have been expelled from their native places in Greece even without the
right to visit them, except in case if they declare in written form
that they are Greek by origin, by the fact they have been deprived of
the right to use and regulate their property and by the fact that
their national identity and mother tongue are Macedonian. As it is
generally known, Greece does not recognize at all the existence of a
Macedonian national minority. Their active manifestation of the
Macedonian national identity in the
countries where they now live is considered by the Greek authorities
as an enemy activity directed toward the vital interests of the
Republic of Greece whereby the list of the undesirable Macedonians is
continuously being expanded.
 
======================================================
Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
chairman, Meto Jovanovski
email: helkom@soros.org.mk
phone: +389 91 119 073
addr:  M. H. Jasmin 18/1/6 91000 Skopje, Macedonia
======================================================

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