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On 4 December 1991, the Greek Council of Ministers defined the terms for the international
recognition as independent state of the (until then federal Yugoslav) Socialist Republic of
Macedonia (SGPI, 1992:6):

“It should not use the name ‘Macedonia’ which has a purely geographic and not an
ethnic meaning. It should recognize that it has no territorial claims on our country. It
should recognize that, in Greece, there is no ‘Macedonian’ minority.”

On 16 December 1991, the Greek foreign minister, Antonis Samaras, persuaded his EPC
(European Political Cooperation) colleagues to include these conditions, albeit in a modified
version, in their ‘Declaration on Yugoslavia’, which inter alia defined the conditions for ‘the
recognition of Yugoslav Republics’. The latter’s last paragraph stated (ELIAMEP, 1992:305-

“The Community and its member States also require a Yugoslav Republic to commit
itself, prior to recognition, to adopt constitutional and political guarantees ensuring
that it has no territorial claims toward a neighboring Community State, including the
use of a denomination which implies territorial claims.”

As a result, it took almost two years before the Republic of Macedonia (as she would like to
be called) was fully recognized by most countries in the world -and in most cases by the
provisional name agreed upon to facilitate its entrance in the UN (Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia - FYROM). Even the EC countries delayed the recognition despite the fact that
the EEC’s Arbitration Commission (the ‘Badinter Commission’), in its advice no. 6 of 11
January 1992, had stipulated that (ELIAMEP, 1993a: 327):

“the Republic of Macedonia fulfilled the conditions laid out by the Guidelines on the
Recognition of New States in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union as well as by
the Declaration on Yugoslavia adopted by the Council of Ministers of the European
Community on 16 December 1991.”

Although the stumbling block for the recognition is the name of the new country, with Greece
refusing any ‘Macedonian’ name and the Republic of Macedonia refusing any ‘non-
Macedonian’ name, Greece continues to be adamant in its refusal of the existence of a ‘Slav’,
or a ‘Slavomacedonian’ or, even worse, a ‘Macedonian’ minority in its territory. In the words
of then Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, in an interview to Economicos Tachydromos

“I have revolutionized Greece’s policy on the matter. PASOK [the Greek socialist
party] had tolerated such a debate, that is to present us with a minority problem,
whereas C. Karamanlis [former Greek president and prime minister before PASOK]
had not tolerated it. When I went [to Yugoslavia], as the Official Opposition Leader
in 1989, I almost engaged in a fist fight: I called it ‘phantom minority’. When the US
Department of State, three years ago, mentioned a minority, I told them this is a
casus belli for us. Show me where this minority is. There are bilingual Greeks; maybe

some very few [among them] do not have a Greek national consciousness. [But] no
one speaks any more officially about a Macedonian minority.”

Later on, Mr. Mitsotakis admitted even more explicitly that the real problem with the
recognition of the Republic of Macedonia was the implicit admission that a respective
minority existed in Greece (Mitsotakis, 1995:3):

“I understood the Skopje issue from the very beginning in its real dimension. What
had concerned me from the very beginning was not the country’s name, which is
related with the historical dimension of the problem and has mostly psychological
and sentimental value. The problem for me was to avoid the emergence of a second
minority problem in Western Macedonia. (...) For me, the aim had always been that
that Republic should clearly state that there is no Slavomacedonian minority in
Greece and to commit itself through international treaties to stop all irredentist
propaganda against Greece. That was the key in the Greek-Skopjan dispute.”

It is therefore obvious that, for the Greek authorities, the issue of the existence of a
Macedonian minority, let alone claims about its repression, is so extremely sensitive that they
attempt to officially eliminate it by imposing on the Republic of Macedonia their view as a
sine qua no for its recognition. Had that new country ever signed an international official
document explicitly including the third term of the Greek Council of Ministers, it would have
been used by Greece in perpetuity to claim that there is no Macedonian minority in its
territory, just as it uses the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 to argue that the minority in Thrace can
call itself only Muslim (the term used in the Treaty) and not Turkish, the CSCE- and Council-
of-Europe-adopted principle of self-determination not withstanding. On the basis of that
official attitude, Greek courts can issue prison sentences for whoever calls him(her)self a Turk
and they have already done so; likewise for those who say they are Macedonians or argue that
there is a Macedonian minority in Greece.

Such an attitude, which has been giving the impression abroad that ‘democracy takes a back
seat in Greece’ (The Times leader, 20/8/1993), reflects the existence of a nationalistic near-
consensus among Greek political parties, media and, notably, intellectuals and academics;
hence, dissenters have little influence and can be easily and quietly persecuted. The adoption,
in 1991-2, by the European Union (EU) of Greece’s terms for the recognition of the Republic
of Macedonia has only helped the intransigence of Greek nationalism and made life more
difficult for the minorities and the rare dissenting voices.

On the other hand, the authorities’ argument that there are only very few in the Macedonian
minority who claim to have a non-Greek national consciousness is to a large extent the result
of half a century of systematic persecution of that minority which has led to the expulsion of
one part, the assimilation of another, and the sheer fear of a third part to ‘come out of the
closet’ and publicly state their different identity. This situation may shock Western publics,
but it has been common among the various Balkan nations in the 20th century.

In this document, we will explain the historical reasons for the current situation, describe
current repression, present and explain the attitude of the Greek state and society on the
matter, alert to the lack of appropriate documentation and international concern on the issue,
and offer some suggestions for ways to remedy this and the, unfortunately, many similar
state-minority conflicts in the Balkans.

A significant part of the factual information presented therein was collected during a fact-
finding mission which Minority Rights Group-Greece coordinated in Greek Western
Macedonia and the Bitola area in the Republic of Macedonia between 19-26 July 1993, with
the participation of two other NGO’s, Helsinki Watch (USA) and the Danish Helsinki
Committee. The mission received no assistance nor any briefing from the Greek foreign
ministry, contrary to its obligations under the Moscow CSCE declarations to which Greece is
a party; in fact, it was even sometimes harassed by Greek state officials, in ways similar to the
ones experienced by two of its members in the past (see Appendix I).

A note on the terms Slav, Slavomacedonian, Macedonian

As it has already become evident, the very name of Macedonia is a very sensitive issue for
Greece. When trying to define the respective minority, we are faced with an equally sensitive
issue. International linguists and human rights researchers tend to use the term Macedonian
for both the language and the minority. Within the minority, though, there are three groups.
Those who have a Macedonian national identity, meaning that they feel they belong to the
same nation with that constituting the majority in the Republic of Macedonia: they call
themselves Macedonians and they perceive their identity as incompatible with the Greek
national identity, although hardly anyone has a problem with being a Greek citizen. Then,
another group has an ethnic identity, which is incompatible with both the Greek and the
Macedonian national identities and seeks the recognition of their cultural specificities: most of
the latter seem to prefer to call themselves Slavomacedonians. Finally, a third group, the
largest one, is made up of people who have a full Greek ethnic and national identity, whether
because they descend from ‘Graecoman’ Slavs who opted to fight for the Greek national
cause or because their families were the subject of successful, though oppressive,
assimilation: they are a simple linguistic minority which would be hostile to the use of the
Macedonian term for them (in fact some may object even to the use of the Slavomacedonian
term). To further complicate the matter, the ethnic Greeks who live in Greek Macedonia have
a Macedonian regional identity and strongly object to the -monopolizing for them- use of the
term Macedonia and Macedonian by the (Slav)Macedonians of Greece and, especially, of the
Republic of Macedonia (Karakasidou, 1993:11-4 & 1994:63).

To overcome this confusion, towards the end of the interwar period and during World War II
and the ensuing Civil War, it seems that the term Slavomacedonian was introduced and was
accepted by the community itself, which at the time had a much more widespread non-Greek
Macedonian ethnic consciousness. Unfortunately, according to members of the community,
this term was later used by the Greek authorities in a pejorative, discriminatory way; hence
the reluctance if not hostility of modern-day Macedonians of Greece (i.e. people with a
Macedonian national identity) to accept it, especially at a time when the name issue has been
elevated to a source of major conflict between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia.

In this document -and unlike in its first version (MRG-G, 1994)-, we have resolved to use the
term Macedonian to refer to the whole Macedonian-speaking community in Greece. The first
reason is that naming the minority after its language is the practice often used in this field, just
as we have done for the Arvanites, the Aromanians and Meglenoromanians, and the Pomaks.
Secondly, the hostility of today’s Macedonian activists towards a name (Slavomacedonian)
which has acquired such a loaded value, just like the name Kutzovlachs for the Aromanians,
is another strong reason to avoid its use: after all, most of the human rights-related problems
we will discuss here have had as victims those who have never had a Greek consciousness
and have identified themselves as Macedonians (or, in the early interwar years and for some,

Bulgarians). Thirdly, as we said above, the majority of Macedonian speakers in Greece are
unhappy with the Slavomacedonian term as well. Greek Helsinki Monitor and Minority
Rights Group - Greece have been the first Greek Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s)
to publicly use the term ‘Macedonian minority’ in Greece, to be followed, in 1995, by some
other groups or individuals, too few though. In conclusion, we should stress that we will not
make any changes to excerpts of texts of other authors who have used the terms
‘Slavomacedonians’ or ‘Slavophones’.

The legacy of the past

The specificities of Balkan nationalisms

A comprehensive understanding of ethnic conflict and, therefore, of the plight of nearly all
minorities in the Balkans requires a reference to the, usually overlooked, particular
characteristics of Balkan nationalisms. They certainly belonged to the second wave of
nationalisms, the romantic and linguistic, mostly nineteenth century European, nationalisms.
At the heart of each such nationalism was the elevation of a usually vernacular to the status of
a literary language-of-(actual or potential) state by (Anderson, 1991:79):

“a coalition of lesser gentries, academics, professionals, and businessmen, in which

the first often provided leaders of ‘standing,’ the second and third myths, poetry,
newspapers, and ideological formulations, and the last money and marketing

So, from the multitude of -nevertheless linguistically similar- Southern Slavic dialects and the
archaic Church Slavonic emerged the (internationally but not locally considered today)
common Serbo-Croat literary language, based on the neostokavian (ijekavian or ekavian)
dialects; Slovenian, based on the Ljubljana dialect; Bulgarian based on the Northern
Bulgarian dialect; and Macedonian, based on the Bitola dialect. It should be mentioned that
the differences among the various Southern Slav languages are smaller than among the
various Italian dialects or those between French and the Occitan dialects (Garde, 1992:125-

In the same period, emerged the other Balkan literary languages-of-state: ‘purified’ Greek,
based mainly on the Alexandrian ancient Greek; Romanian, based on the Daco-Romanian
dialects but with the replacement of the Cyrillic by the Latin alphabet to distance Romanians
from Slavs; Albanian, based on the spoken dialects in modern times Albanian territories; and,
finally, as was the pattern at the time, modern Turkish, different from the official Ottoman
language, a mixture of Turkish, Persian and Arabic (Anderson, 1991:72-5). Generally
(Anderson, 1991:195):

“In Europe, the new nationalisms almost immediately began to imagine themselves
as ‘awakening from sleep’, a trope wholly foreign to the Americas.”

“The ‘founding intellectuals’ of the various dormant people of Europe will

rediscover -or sometimes fully invent- national epic literatures bearing founding
myths. One after the other, the nations rediscover heroic and unfortunate ancestors.”
(Plasseraud, 1991:49).

Today, it is considered commonplace that there have therefore been three stages in the
development of that national consciousness (Hroch, 1968:24-5, as summarized in Banac,

“In the first stage a group of ‘awakened’ intellectuals starts studying the language,
culture, and history of a subjugated people. In the second stage, which corresponds
to the heyday of national revivals, the scholars’ ideas are transmitted by a group of
‘patriots,’ that is the carriers of national ideologies, who take it upon themselves to
convey national thought to the wider strata. In the last stage the national movement
reaches its mass apogee.”

Moreover (Banac, 1992:30):

“The ideology of nationalism [...] found its fulfillment in national self-rule and
invariably promoted state independence either through a separation of national
territory from a larger multinational state (secessionism) or through incorporation of
kindred territory within the already established matrix-state (irredentism).”

Irredentism is also known as ‘piedmontization’ after the model of the Italian unification, built
around the Piedmont state.

The first peculiarity of Balkan nationalisms, and the most crucial to understand the historical
evolution of the area to this day, is that, in most cases, national self-rule was the product of
both secessionism and irredentism, unlike in all other non-Balkan countries. If one looks at
the maps of the first, initially autonomous and then independent, Montenegran (respectively
1516 and 1878), Serbian (1829, 1878), Greek (1829, 1830), Bulgarian (1878, 1908) and
Romanian (1861, 1880) states, and compares them to their maps in the 1990’s, s/he will
immediately notice that the first states included no more than half the territory these states
rule over today. All of them were the product of secessions from the Ottoman Empire, first in
the form of autonomy then as independent states. From the very beginning, they perceived
themselves as matrix-states with an irredentist mission to conquer all as yet ‘unredeemed’
territories (Sellier & Sellier, 1991). No other European state has lived through a similar
experience, as the current ‘external’ West European frontiers are very similar to the 1815 or
the 1885 ones, while the non-Balkan Central and East European frontiers are very similar to
the post-World War I 1924 ones.

The fact that the early modern Balkan states had to adopt an irredentist attitude would not by
itself have inevitably led to the serious ethnic conflicts which have plagued the region in the
last two centuries: witness the irredentist formation of Italy and Germany. However, in the
Balkans, the unredeemed territories targeted by each new nation-state conflicted with those
targeted by other(s) state(s), because of the mixed populations and, usually, their lack of a
clear national consciousness in these territories. This specific Balkan situation resulted in:
• one century of diplomatic and armed conflicts in the area (1810’s-1920’s), often
accompanied by ethnic cleansing;
• official policies of assimilation of the minorities which were not eliminated or expelled, a
characteristic absent from the other romantic or linguistic nationalisms but present in the
third wave of ‘official nationalisms’, which were the belated reaction of the native speakers
of the official vernacular of the imperial states (England, Russia, Turkey, etc.) to the
emergence of the second wave or romantic nationalisms (Banac, 1992:28; Anderson,

• development of historical revisionism in the popular culture and, often, the official policies
of the Balkan states, as in almost all cases the dream of a large state including all irredenta
was materialized for a short period to be shattered soon after: Great Bulgaria (in 1878 and
between 1941-1944), Great Romania (1918-1940), Great Serbia (Yugoslavia between
1918-1941 and 1945-1991), Great Greece (1918-1922), Great Albania (1941-1944), Great
Croatia (1941-1944); as for Great Macedonia, its creation was envisaged during the post-
World War I negotiations, but the idea was in the end rejected by a combined British-
French effort (Wilkinson, 1951:233); this led to the emergence of the concept of ‘lost
fatherlands’ (the frustrated irredenta) which explains why the large majority of the citizens
of the Balkan countries today consider that their countries’ frontiers are bad, although they
are not ready to fight wars to change them;
• repression of the remaining minorities, which survived ethnic cleansing, population
exchanges or expulsion, and assimilation, more than in other European countries; this often
means the refusal to recognize the presence of such minorities, just like the competing
Balkan nationalisms had in the past refused to acknowledge each other’s legitimacy.

It is indeed instructive to recall that, in the last two centuries, there has been ‘an almost
systematic will to refuse the existence of the neighbor’ nation (Raufer & Haut, 1992:11) in the
Balkan peninsula. The Illyrianist movement in its Pan-Croatian form (19th century) considered
all Southern Slavs as Croats (Banac, 1992:71-6); it was reciprocated (in the 20th century) by a
denial of the existence of separate Croat and Slovene identities by Pan-Serbian nationalists
like the interwar Radicals (Banac, 1992:161-2). Likewise, the Bulgarian distinct nation was
challenged by Croats (Banac, 1992:71-6), Serbs (Ancel, 1992:164) and Greeks (Jelavich,
1991:41). Serbian nationalism also considered Albanians ‘lost Serbs’, who had become
‘savages’, and ‘their nationalism was the product of Austrian and Italian intrigue’ (Banac,
1992:293-5); the latter view was shared by Greek nationalists too, who contested the
existence of a separate, non-Greek Albanian nation (Lazarou & Lazarou, 1993:171;
Vakalopoulos, 1994:246). Naturally, the irredentist Croat and, especially, Serbian
nationalisms had no room for the Bosnians, demeaned as ‘Asians, unstable, perverted’ etc.
(Banac, 1992:371-7). Likewise, Serbs, Bulgarians and Greeks have never come to terms with
the presence of culturally distinct Macedonians and Vlachs in the area: the Macedonians have
been considered as ‘Southern Serbs’ by the Serbs, ‘Western Bulgarians’ by the Bulgarians,
and ‘Slavophone Greeks’ by the Greeks (Raufer & Haut, 1992:11), who have regularly
demeaningly called in 1992-3 the Republic of Macedonia ‘Skopjan statelet’ and its
inhabitants ‘Gypsy-Skopjans’, ‘Balkan Gypsies’, ‘Skopjan Vlachs’ (Elefantis, 1992:39). On
the other hand, the word ‘Vlach’ has often had a pejorative meaning among Croats and
Albanians (derogatory for Serbs) (Banac, 1992:257 & 300-2) and Greeks (meaning ‘coarse’)
(Tegopoulos & Fytrakis, 1993:152). For the generalised use of ‘hate speech’ in modern 1995
Balkan electronic and print media, see Dimitras, Lenkova and Nelson (1995).

This attitude has hardly changed in recent years; in fact, the collapse of communism in
Central and Eastern Europe has led to the reappearance of nationalism as strong as ever
(Plasseraud, 1991:13-4; see also Garde, 1992:344):

“There is a point on which the nations of Central and Eastern Europe differ
substantially from us; it concerns their relation to time and history. Contrary to the
Westerners who hardly have an historical memory and today gladly place themselves
in the instant, the people in the East often forget to live in the present as a result of an
acute historicist consciousness. Their thought and their instinctive reactions are

usually located in an historical perspective even if that reference handed down from
parents to children is often largely mythical.”

This is particularly true in the Balkans, ‘whose people are loaded with more history than they
can bear’ according to Winston Churchill (quoted in Rupnik, 1992:11). Throughout the
region’s recent history, with rare exceptions, minorities were perceived, sometimes not
without reason, as being manipulated by the fellow ethnic state at the expense of the national
interests of the state they lived in. Since in the ‘new order,’ imposed by Hitler at the height of
World War II, their presence was used as an excuse to redraw the frontiers at the expense of
the winners of World War I, once the ‘protecting curtain’ of the Cold War collapsed, the
populations started fearing the return of the ‘old ghosts’, i.e. the ‘border games’ that shattered
Europe in the first half of this century; in some nationalist sectors in almost all Balkan
countries, nevertheless, such a return was seen in a positive way, in the hope that it could
restore some of the ‘lost fatherlands’.

The case of Macedonian nationalism

Macedonian nationalism is the last nationalism to have developed in the Balkans, in the very
end of the nineteenth century. The creation in Salonica of the Internal Macedonian
Revolutionary Organization (IMRO or VMRO in Macedonian) by teachers of the Bulgarian
high school (Lory, 1993:133), in 1893, is celebrated today as the beginning of the
Macedonian struggle for a nation-state. However, from the very beginning, there were two
trends among Macedonian-speaking activists: one, the ‘centralist’, which aimed at an
independent Macedonia, and another, the ‘supremist’ which believed that the Macedonian
struggle was, in the end, a component of Bulgarian irredentism which sought the creation of
Great Bulgaria encompassing all territories granted by the San Stefano Treaty to the
ephemeral Great Bulgarian state in 1878 plus Salonica: for the ‘supremists’, an autonomous
Macedonia would be only a first step towards eventual annexation by Bulgaria, as in the case
of Eastern Rumelia (annexed in 1885 by Bulgaria), while the ‘centralists’ wanted the
autonomous Macedonia to become a part of a Balkan federation (Crampton, 1993:45).

It is generally believed today that, “since the seventh century, [Macedonia] has been
overwhelmingly Slavic and, moreover, the cradle of Slavic literary activity” (Banac, 1992:35)
and that these Slavs spoke various Bulgarian-Macedonian dialects, on which was based the
first codified Slavic language, St. Cyril and Methodius’ Church Slavonic (Garde, 1992:24-7).
However, it is not accepted neither that the Church Slavonic is just Old Macedonian, as
Macedonian nationalists claim (Danforth, 1993:7), nor that a separate Macedonian identity
had developed in these early ages (Banac, 1992:23):

“It is highly significant that, among the South Slavs, the national identity of the
Bulgars, Croats, and Serbs was acquired, though not firmly fixed, long before the
development of modern nationalism. These three nations maintained a collective
memory of their medieval statehood, and this memory survived in various forms -in
the consciousness of national elites but also in part in popular imagination- despite
interruptions or reductions in full state independence. As a result, the measure of
state-historical tradition separates old South Slavic nations from the Slovenes, who
acquired a national consciousness only in the nineteenth century, and especially from
the Montenegrins, Macedonians, and Bosnian-Hercegovinian Muslims, who are the
products of twentieth century mutations in South Slavic national affinities and are,
indeed, still in the process of formation. Since the ideological underpinnings of these

new South Slavic nations were seemingly incomplete without a state tradition,
modern Slovenes therefore looked upon the early seventh-century Carantanian
principality as their prototypal state and the proof of their continuous nationhood,
and theorists of Montenegrin and Macedonian national uniqueness augmented their
claims with references to eleventh-century Doclea (Duklja) and the Western
Bulgarian empire of Samuil.”

Banac exaggerates when he speaks of ‘national identities,’ formed in such early years, but he
is right in pointing out that Bulgarians, Croats, and Serbs had a richer history to look back to
than the other South Slavs. Bosnians, too, can trace their roots back to the fourteenth-century
Bosnian rulers and, especially, the emergence of the dualist sectarian Church of Bosnia, often
confused with the Bulgarian Bogomils (Banac, 1992:39-40). Albanians can be proud of their
ancestral states in the fourteenth and fifteenth century, some having stretched all the way
south to include today’s Western Continental Greece (Nakratzas, 1992:21-4 and Sellier &
Sellier, 1991:173). Romanians trace their roots back to the Moldavian and Wallachian
principalities of the same period (Sellier & Sellier, 1991:132). Even the Southern Balkan
Aromanians (Vlachs) could recall Vlach principalities in the tenth and the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries (Bérard, 1987:296; Nakratzas, 1992:51-4) and the Kingdom of Vlachs and
Bulgarians (1185-1260), usually known as second Bulgarian kingdom (Bérard, 1987:297). On
the contrary, the Macedonians’ claims to historical precedents are common with the
Bulgarians’, like Samuil’s Empire: this has contributed, on the one hand to the confusion
between the two contemporary national identities and, on the other hand, to an intense conflict
between Bulgarians and Macedonians. This ‘weakness’ in the historical roots in the medieval
period may also explain why the Macedonians have been very keen to invent a direct
historical link with the ancient Macedonians and Alexander the Great, a source of equally
intense conflict between Greeks and Macedonians also involving the latter’s name.

However, the Greek propaganda in the nineteenth century inadvertently contributed

significantly in the development of the Macedonian identity (Kofos, 1990:107-138, from
where most of the information in this paragraph is drawn). Following the establishment of the
Bulgarian Exarchate in 1870, a nationalist-based secession from the Patriarchate of
Constantinople not recognized by the latter but sanctioned by the Ottoman authorities, a fierce
Greek-Bulgarian rivalry developed in, still Ottoman, Macedonia to win its mostly mixed
populations (hence the ‘salade macédoine’ and the ‘macédoine de fruits’ for vegetable and
fruit salads in French cuisine) to the competing national causes, later joined by Serbian,
Albanian and Romanian claims. Already after 1830, when neither the Bulgarian nor the
Macedonian national ‘awakenings’ had occurred and these Southern Slavs had fought in
Greek and Serbian independence struggles, Greek propaganda in that area focused on the
revival of its Macedonian name, the learning of and the identification with the glorious
history of ancient Macedonians and Alexander the Great, who had, undoubtedly for the
Greeks, Greek origins. To achieve that purpose, even a popular story of Alexander’s life in
the local, i.e. Macedonian, dialect, but in Greek script, was published and circulated. The
effort was successful, as in the end of the century, most inhabitants of Macedonia proudly
called themselves Makedones (in Greek), Makedontsi (in Macedonian), Makedoneni (in
Vlach). But Alexander was by then claimed as an ancestor not only by Greeks but by
Bulgarians, too, just as had done much earlier (in 1525) the initiator of Slavic reciprocity
which led to the Illyrian movement, Vinko Pribojevic (Banac, 1992:71).

One of the most respected authors in modern Greek literature, Penelope Delta, in a book she
researched for twenty years in among other places the Greek Foreign Ministry’s archives,

gave in 1937 (when it was first published) the following definition of Macedonia in the
second half of the nineteenth century (Delta, 1992:46):

“Macedonia was then a mixture of all Balkan nations. Greeks, Bulgarians,

Aromanians, Serbs, Albanians, Christians and Muslims, lived higgledy-piggledy
under the heavy yoke of the Turks. Their language was the same, Macedonian, also a
blend of Slav and Greek, mixed with Turkish words. As in the Byzantine era, the
populations were so mixed that it was difficult to tell apart a Greek from a Bulgarian
-the two dominant races. Their only national consciousness was the Macedonian one.
When though Bulgarians declared their religious independence and, in
Constantinople, the Exarch was recognized as the head of the Bulgarian Church
instead of the Patriarch, and when the 1872 Synod [of the Patriarchate] declared the
Bulgarians schismatic, Macedonia was divided in Patriarchate Greeks and
Exarchate Bulgarians, and so were divided the people of the same area, the same
village -even the same family.”

Given the close proximity of Bulgarian and Macedonian dialects, it is important to clarify the
meaning of the word Bulgarian (Ancel, 1992:180-1):

“[T]he word ‘Bulgarian’ [u]ntil the emancipation of Danubian Bulgaria, indicated

in the Balkans the farmer attached to the land, under Turkish yoke; before 1878,
Nich, Pirot, in the middle of Chopi, were considered Bulgarian lands; after the
creation of the Exarchate as a ‘Bulgarian’ Church (1870), protected by Russia, the
Macedonian Slavs claimed the name of ‘Bulgarians’, looked towards Sofia, rather
than a Belgrade enslaved by Austria and which was temporarily renouncing the
deliverance of the Yugoslavs.”

So (Jelavich, 1991:90-1):

“In the late nineteenth century four states put forward claims in Macedonia
-Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and Romania. In addition, Albanian national leaders, at a
minimum, wanted the vilaets of Bitola and Kosovo to form part of their future
autonomous region. As in the past, the arguments were based on three main
principles: the historical background, the ethnic composition of the population, and
the necessity of maintaining the balance of power. The third consideration involved
the idea of compensation: should one state gain an increase of territory, then its
neighbors should receive equal acquisitions. If history were used as the basis for
modern ownership, then the Greeks had the advantage. The lands had been
associated with ancient Greece and Byzantium, and they had been under the
jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which functioned as a Greek
national organization. The Bulgarians and the Serbs also had, of course, historical
claims dating back to the pre-Ottoman period. The really difficult question was the
determination of the national divisions of the population. The Ottoman census of
1906, which was based on the millets, reported 1,145,849 Muslims; 623,197 Greek
Orthodox, who were under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate; and 626,715
Bulgarian Orthodox, or member of the Exarchate. The figures for Muslims, of course,
included the Albanians. The numbers given for the Patriarchate and Exarchate were
also misleading. The Serbs, without a strong national organization, could join either
church; Bulgarians could be counted among the Greek Orthodox if they lived in an
area outside the jurisdiction of the Exarchate. The major problem in drawing
national lines was not separating the Albanians, Greeks, and Turks, who could be

differentiated by language, but distinguishing among the Slavs. (...) Because of this
confused situation, it was also possible to argue that the Macedonian Slavs were
neither Serbian nor Bulgarian, but formed a unique nationality of their own.”

The three-quarters of the century following the proclamation of the Exarchate were dominated
by the efforts of the Bulgarians, the Greeks and the Serbs to covet the allegiance of these
Macedonian Slavs, countered by the struggle of Macedonian nationalists who aimed at
transforming the Macedonian Orthodox identity to a Macedonian national identity. Though
religious and secular propaganda was used, the most important and the most efficient efforts
were violent and bloody. In the five-year ‘Macedonian Struggle’ (1903-1908) among Greek
‘andartes’, Bulgarian ‘comitadji’, and, to a lesser extent, Serbian ‘chetniks’ (Kofos,

“Under the threat of imminent extermination by rival armed bands, entire village
communities rapidly changed national allegiances which had been shaped,
painstakingly, over decades. The long, laborious process of nation-building had
given way to the show of arms, which proved to be a more efficient method for
serving Greek, Bulgarian and Serbian state-building needs. The Balkan wars of
1912-13 led to the eviction of the Turks from Macedonia and confirmed the
superiority of force over ideological conversion.”

The resort to the use of force was in a way called for by the attitude of the Great Powers at the
time, following the Ilinden and Preobrazhenie uprisings of 1903. On St. Elias’ day (Ilinden in
Macedonian), 20 July/2 August (old and new calendar respectively), IMRO forces rose in the
‘vilaet’ (district) of Bitola (in Macedonia) and proclaimed an independent administration in
Krushevo; on the Lord’s Transfiguration day (Preobrazhenie) on 6/19 August, a second
IMRO uprising took place in the Andrianople vilaet (in Thrace) leading to the creation of an
independent administration in Strandja (Banac, 1992:316):

“Contrary to the expectations of the revolutionary leaders, the European powers

failed to intervene on behalf of Christian insurgents. Both uprisings were drowned in
blood, the Turkish soldiers and Albanian irregulars having burned some 150 villages
round Bitola.”

After the first effort to establish a Macedonian state failed, Austria and Russia, the European
powers mainly concerned with the area, agreed on a scheme to manage the Macedonian crisis
by introducing European supervisors in Macedonia (Crampton, 1993:48):

“Unfortunately, the Murzsteg scheme also contained the provision that Ottoman
administrative boundaries should be redrawn so as to produce the greater possible
degree of ethnic homogeneity within each unit: this merely made the Greeks,
Bulgarians and Serbians more determined to establish cultural dominance in as wide
an area as possible, and thereby sharpened the struggle between the protagonists of
the three potential successor states.”

The powers’ scheme was an invitation to ethnic cleansing, similar to the one their late
twentieth century successors have, with their attitude and their decisions, invited in Bosnia
and in other areas of former Yugoslavia. As, following the defeat of the 1903 uprisings, the
IMRO ‘centralists’ or ‘autonomists’ were weakened to the benefit of the ‘supremists’ or
‘verhovists’, the final and most crucial phase to win allegiances in Macedonia was
characterized by the absence of fighters for an independent Macedonia. The result was that,

after the Balkan Wars and World War I, the legitimate pretenders to the area of Macedonia
were only the Serbs, the Bulgarians, and the Greeks. It is interesting though that the Carnegie
Commission thought that an independent Macedonia would have been the best solution
(Carnegie, 1993:38 & 59):

“The most natural solution of the Balkan imbroglio appeared to be the creation in
Macedonia of a new autonomy or independent unity, side by side with the other
unities realized in Bulgaria, Greece, Servia and Montenegro, all of which countries
had previously been liberated, thanks to Russian or European intervention. (...) What
was precipitated [by the Balkan wars] was the loss of Macedonia to the profit of the
allies. Fear of a real liberation of the Macedonian nation brought about its conquest
by the competitors [Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia].”

The right for Macedonian self-determination was briefly and not very seriously discussed on
the negotiating tables of the late 1910’s (Wilkinson, 1951:233), though the existence of a
separate Macedonian identity was acknowledged at least by the Greeks, as ‘Macedonian
Slavs’ in the official ethnological map produced in 1918 by the Venizelos government
(Soteriadis, 1918), the Serbs in Cvijic’s maps they officially used (Wilkinson, 1951:203), and
the British (in an internal memorandum) (Green, 1970:193):

“Yet if a right of appeal is granted to the Macedonians or the German Bohemians it

will be difficult to refuse it in the case of other nationalists movements.”

Macedonia was divided up in 1913 with little respect to the national affinities of its Slav
population, the large majority of whom were Bulgarophiles. Greece annexed over half of that
area, but “the political frontier, dating from 1912, was traced clearly to the north of the
linguistic frontier”; as a result, Greek or Aegean Macedonia’s “population is in its majority
Greek, but there are Slavs in the whole northern part” (Garde, 1992:246). Serbia received
over a third of the territory with Bulgaria getting only a mere tenth, “in inverse ratio to their
ethnological strength” (Kofos, 1990:114).

As soon as they acquired these territories, Serbia and Greece engaged in, often brutal,
systematic and forced assimilation (if not extermination sometimes) aiming at eliminating
Bulgarophilia among Macedonians: a detailed report of the related practices can be found in
the Carnegie Endowment Report (Carnegie, 1993:158-207). Its conclusion (Carnegie,

“These supreme acts of intolerance on the part of Greece and Servia toward
educational institutions, which had long been a saving grace in Macedonia, may find
some defense in the militant nature of the national propaganda which priests and
schoolmasters carried on; but such coercion and ill treatment employed by one set of
Christians against another, all adherents of the same [O]rthodox faith, can not hope
to escape the censure of the civilized world. They were fiendish, both in their
conception and in their execution, and were appropriate only to the times of the
Spanish Inquisition. (...) They also convict the Greeks and Servians of mal-
administration and intolerance at the very beginning of their avowed work of
reconstruction. Recalling that under the Turks there had been a high degree of liberty
in education and worship, is it strange that large populations are now wishing that
the Turks were again in control?”

Soon after, though, most of these territories reverted back to Bulgaria (1915-1918) which
engaged in an, often equally violent, persecution of ‘Graecomane’ and ‘Serbomane’
Macedonians, Greeks and Serbs, documented by the special Inter-Allied Commission after
the war (Poulton, 1995:76). Such practices invited more repression by Bulgaria’s revengeful
opponents after these territories were returned to Serbia and Greece, though, this time,
between “(1918-1924) the repression in Aegean Macedonia was far less intense” than in
Vardar Macedonia (Banac, 1992:317-9). This round of terror repeated itself during World
War II, when Bulgaria fully annexed (and not just occupied) once again most of the
Macedonian territories it had ‘lost’ to Serbia and Greece: initially, Bulgarian rule was popular
especially in Vardar Macedonia, as a result of the preceding repression; soon, though, the
centralizing and ruthless methods of the Bulgarians led to the final emancipation of
Macedonians from their Bulgarian affinities, an emancipation which had started developing
since the 1930’s, and paved the way for the creation of a distinct Macedonian republic in the
post-war federal Yugoslav state. The latter was the only way Yugoslavia could keep Serbian
Macedonia under its rule after the War; it also furthered Tito’s short-lived ambitions for a
Belgrade-centered Balkan federation with a Macedonian component which would have
included a Great Macedonian component at the expense of Bulgaria and Greece (Crampton,
1993:125; Banac, 1991:327; Danforth, 1993:7; Wilkinson, 1951:298-300).

The Macedonian entity within Yugoslavia developed through 1991 entirely under
communism. It showed most of the traits of Balkan nationalisms of the preceding century.
First, the language which became official in that state, and one of the official languages of
Yugoslavia, was certainly based on the Bitola dialect, but with a deliberate effort to de-
Bulgarize it, like the phonetic orthography which is a characteristic of the Serbian and not of
the Bulgarian language (Garde, 1992:243). Macedonia also acquired an official history that
led to a permanent conflict with Bulgaria and Greece, as it ‘appropriated’ historical figures
and entities which were traditionally considered to belong to the latter two peoples’ histories,
as we said above. Moreover, the Macedonians considered their entity as only the ‘Piedmont’
of an eventual Great Macedonia, which was to include the ‘unredeemed’ territories under
Bulgarian and Greek rule, regardless of the fact that massive population movements had
altered the ethnological composition of these areas, turning the Macedonians still living there
into minorities, with a large number of them, perhaps as a result of past repression, having
been assimilated. Anyway (Kofos, 1990:139; the quotation marks in the Macedonian terms
from the original text):

“The movement for unification was particularly strong during the war years and
until Tito was expelled from the Cominform in 1948. It has since been abandoned as
official dogma, but has survived in ‘Macedonian’ literature and historical treatises,
and has been adopted by certain ‘Macedonian’ groups in the diaspora.”

In the 1990’s, the irredentist dream has not disappeared and is in fact included in the program
of the new state’s largest party in the first elections, the VMRO (37 out of 120 seats in 1990;
always in opposition to the governing coalition, but has disintegrated in the mid-1990s);
moreover, the choice as national symbol of the star found on the tomb of Philip II, father of
Alexander the Great, discovered in Greek Macedonia could not but fuel the Greeks’ fears
about contemporary Macedonian revisionism. Nevertheless, irredentism has been a key
characteristic in every new Balkan state fifty years after its establishment (the current age of
the Macedonian separate entity); whereas, though, it was ‘legitimate’ in the nineteenth
century, it can be destabilizing in the late twentieth century: an official, concrete and
sustained, condemnation of it was perhaps Greece’s only reasonable demand in the conflict
over the international recognition of the new state in the mid-1990’s. Finally, every new

Balkan state with an Orthodox population sought to create a national church; the
Macedonians, thanks to a decision of the, theoretically atheist, federal Yugoslav authorities,
acquired their autocephalous church in 1967, despite the opposition by the Serbian and, as a
consequence, the other Orthodox Churches including the Greek one: this ecclesiastical
conflict is expected to last longer than the problem of the international recognition with a
definite name.

An impartial review of Macedonian history leads to the conclusion that (Garde, 1992:243; &
Granger, 1924:232):

“A consciousness of identity (...) has always existed among Macedonians. French

geographer Ernest Granger wrote in 1924: ‘The Slavs of Prilep, Bitolj, Strumica,
Lower-Vardar have not had to this date the consciousness of belonging to a clearly
defined nation. To the question: are you Serbian? are you Bulgarian? are you
Greek? or Albanian? they were answering: I am Macedonian.”

A leading Greek writer who fought in the Bitola area during World War I made the same
observation also in 1924 (Myrivilis, 1991:104):

“These peasants, whose language is perfectly understood by the Bulgarians and the
Serbs, dislike the former because they drafted their children in the army. They hate
the latter who mistreat them as they consider them Bulgarians. And they look with a
lot of sympathetic curiosity to us, the passing by Rums [Greeks] because we are the
genuine spiritual subjects of the Patrik, that is the ‘Orthodox Patriarch of the Poli’
[Constantinople]. (...) But they want to be neither ‘Bulgar’, nor ‘Srrp’, nor ‘Grrtc’.
Just ‘Makedon Orthodox.’”

This feeling of a separate Macedonian identity (albeit not yet a national one) was shared by
many scholars in the first half of the twentieth century, as indicated by the dozen maps which
included them separately from the Bulgarians, the Greeks, or the Serbs (Wilkinson, 1951).
However, the frustration of their earlier struggles for independence and the cultural affinity
with the Bulgarians led them to often identify with the latter. So, in the 1930’s (Banac,

“They were Bulgars in struggles against Serbian and Greek hegemonism, but within
the Bulgar world they were increasingly becoming exclusive Macedonians.”

After World War II, they were elevated to an official nation by Tito who wanted to distance
them from the Bulgarians and, secondarily, the Serbs, just like Stalin established Moldavian
nationality, language and entity in formerly Romanian Bessarabia (Garde, 1992:245):

“But in Bessarabia linguistic differences were fictitious, regional specificity non-

existent, while in Macedonia they were both real. (...) So, Moldavia, after
independence, eagerly seeks reunification with Romania. Macedonia claims plain
and simple independence.”

We can therefore conclude that a distinct Macedonian ethnic identity -just like a distinct
Vlach ethnic identity- had definitely developed before World War II, irrespective of the
varying historical explanations for it: it is on that basis that the post-war Yugoslavia
recognized and helped develop the Macedonian national identity. On the contrary, no distinct
Moldavian ethnic identity existed before the War; hence Stalin’s failure to definitely distance

the Moldavians from the Romanians. Bulgarians have accepted that, in the last fifty years, the
Slav population of Yugoslav Macedonia developed a separate identity although they keep the
hope that they can be reintegrated in the Bulgarian nation in the future (Kofos, 1990:127).
Their attitude has enabled them to be the first to recognize Macedonian independence in
1991, though they will not officially acknowledge the separate nation. Greeks have yet to
come to terms with that reality and, thus, were the last to fully recognize their neighbors. In
any case, both countries adamantly deny the existence of Macedonian minorities in their
respective territories.

Past repression in Greece

According to League of Nations statistics, which however were based solely on Greek
sources, when Greece annexed over half the territory of Macedonia in 1913, the Greek-
speaking population made up just 43% of its 1,200,000 inhabitants as compared with 39% for
the Turks, 10% for the Slav and 8% for the Jews (Wilkinson, 1951:266; Nicolaidis, 1992:32).
However, in those figures, Slav-speaking people who belonged to the Patriarchate were
classified as Greeks. Should we limit the Greek population to the Greek-speaking one, we
would reach an estimate of 20%-25% of Greeks vs. 30%-35% of Slavs (Lithoxoou, 1992c;
Carnegie, 1993:195; Poulton, 1995:85). In general, to quote Greek Minister of the Army K.
Nider from a 1925 memorandum (Divani, 1995:77):

“When Macedonia was liberated by Greece, there was a mosaic of national

consciousness, of Greek-leaning (ελληνιζόντων), Bulgarian-leaning, Serbian-leaning,
Romanian-leaning people.”

The Slavs tended to be considered as Bulgarians by the Greek authorities, which explains why
Professor R. A. Reiss who was commissioned by the Greek government to study
ethnologically the new territories felt compelled to insist that “those you call Bulgarophones, I
will simply call them Macedonians” (Reiss, 1915:3). Following World War I, and the Greek-
Bulgarian convention of 27/11/1919, which allowed voluntary population exchange, some
53,000 Slavs left for Bulgaria (Wilkinson, 1951:262), usually compelled by the Greek state’s
discriminatory implementation of that convention in favor of those leaving the country
(Nicolaidis, 1992:32); in ‘exchange’ some 30,000 Greeks emigrated from Bulgaria to Greece.
Divani (1995:58) -whose book is using Greek foreign ministry archives- mentions -though
without a source- an exchange of 46,000 Greeks for 92,000 Bulgarians, though she uses the
53,000 figure for Bulgarians later on (p. 332); Poulton (1995:86) mentions 25,000 Greeks for
52,000-72,000 Bulgarians. At the same time, and following the implementation of the
mandatory exchange of population between Greece and Turkey after the Greek defeat in Asia
Minor in 1922 and the Lausanne Treaties in 1924, some 700,000-800,000 Greeks settled in
Macedonia (Wilkinson, 1951:263-269). So, in the inter-war period, the composition of the
population of Greek Macedonia was dramatically altered. To quote the current bishop of
Florina: “If the hundreds of thousands of refugees had not come to Greece, today there would
be no Greek Macedonia. The refugees created the country’s national homogeneity” (Avgi,
9/2/1992). Still there were many Macedonians left: some 82,000-85,000 according to official
census data in 1928 and in 1940 (with their language referred to as Slavo-Macedonian), but
probably as many as 200,000 in reality, as even the association created to help ‘Hellenize’
them (Association for the Dissemination of Greek Letters) admitted (Mavrogordatos,
1983:247; Divani, 1995:333).

This homogeneity could not have been achieved though without additional compulsory and
repressive assimilation policies of the Greek state. Although the Greek state was compelled to
protect its ‘Bulgarian’ minority by the 1920 Sèvres treaty and, in fact, tried to negotiate the
implementation of the provisions of the latter in 1924 (by the Kalfof-Politis agreement),
strong reaction by public opinion and by Yugoslavia canceled all such initiatives, and the
special Abecedar printed in 1925 to teach the (Latin not Cyrillic) alphabet (based on the
dialects spoken in Greece rather than on the Bulgarian or Serbian alphabets -hence its
rejection by Bulgaria -Divani, 1995:148; Poulton, 1995:88-9) at the primary schools (as
promised by Greece in the League of Nations on 10/6/1925, see Divani, 1995:323) was never
used, as (Williams, 1992:83):

“The Hellenistic ideology of the post-Lausanne Greek state favors nation-building

and assimilation into one Greek people of all other non-Turkish constituent

On the contrary, since the mid-1920s, all Exarchate and Serbian schools from the pre-
annexation era were closed, while the Slavonic icons were replaced or repainted with Greek
names (Poulton, 1993:176 & 1995:89); likewise, the Slavic names of the villages were
changed, a process which had already started in 1909 in the territories which were already
part of Greece then (Lithoxoou, 1991: 63-4; Poulton, 1995:88). Moreover, from Thracian
villages near Bulgaria -but also from villages in Western Macedonia-, many Macedonians
were exiled to Crete in an effort to neutralize hostile Bulgarian propaganda, partly carried out
through IMRO band intrusions in Greek territory (Kargakos, 1992:100; Mavrogordatos,
1983:248; and Tounta, 1986:56). But for the Macedonian masses (Mavrogor-datos,

“The most explosive and perennial issue, however, was that of the land in
conjunction with refugee settlement. Slavo-Macedonian natives reacted strongly and
often violently to the massive settlement of Greek refugees and to their occupation of
fields they had themselves coveted or even cultivated in the past. (...) Slavo-
Macedonian peasants would massively declare themselves Bulgarians, or even Serbs,
in the futile hope that their villages and lands would thus be spared the refugee

As a result, Macedonians tended to oppose the most nationalist political family, the liberal
Venizelists, whose electoral base was the refugees, and vote for the conservative populists,
also because the latter were receiving strong support from Greek Old-Calendarists (Orthodox
Christian who have not accepted the new calendar) and Macedonians were Old-Calendarists
too. In fact, some local populist politicians campaigned among Macedonians using separatist
slogans “Macedonia for Macedonians” and “Macedonia iskra” (Divani, 1995:80).
Nevertheless, a minority of the Macedonians was voting for the communists, who, along with
the other Balkan communists, advocated an independent Macedonia. The consequence
(Mavrogordatos, 1983:251):

“[T]he connection between Slavo-Macedonians, Communists, and the threatened

loss of Greek Macedonia was most effective-not only for propaganda, but also for the
police repression of both Communist and Slavo-Macedonian agitation.”

Despite all this harassment, a large number of Macedonians, and their vast majority in the
Florina and Kastoria district, lacked Greek national consciousness (Mavrogordatos, 1983:247;
& Lithoxoou, 1992a:36-42). So, during the Metaxas dictatorship (1936-1941) -ironically

Metaxas was the leader of a populist political party Macedonians had supported in the past-,
compulsory and repressive methods of assimilation were introduced, resulting in the
alienation of the non-assimilated Macedonians (Kofos, 1990:116). The use of the Macedonian
language was prohibited both in public and at home, and the penalties included fines, forced
drinking of castor oil, thrashing, torture, and exile. All its native speakers were forced to
attend night school to learn Greek. Special training schools for women were created to help
‘Hellenize’ the ‘Bulgarian-speaking mother’ (Divani, 1995:345). Finally, all those who had
not changed their names from Slavic into Greek ones, were obliged to do so, while 340
Macedonians emigrants to Canada or the USA were losing their Greek citizenship and were
not allowed back even with their families living in Greece (Divani, 1995:345). It is no wonder
therefore that many Macedonians, having felt hostile towards the Greek ‘bourgeois state’,
were eager to cooperate with the Bulgarian occupants during World War II and, especially,
with the communist resistance in the same period and the communist forces in the ensuing
civil war, which, towards the war’s end even openly supported the idea of an independent
Macedonia (Karakasidou, 1993:3; Kargakos, 1992:187; Lygeros, 1992:33; & Mavrogordatos,
1983:252). In the villages under control of the resistance and then the communist forces,
Macedonians had their schools, schoolbooks, newspapers, and church services and enjoyed a
freedom they had never had before and have never had since (Poulton, 1993:178 &

The Macedonians paid dearly their civil war (1946-9) choice and the call for an independent
Macedonia made during it. Like most communists, some 35,000 Macedonians fled Greece
after the defeat of the communist side (Danforth, 1993:4); but, whereas, in 1982, a law
allowed the free return of and property restitution to all these political refugees, it excluded
specifically all those of non-Greek origin, i.e. the Macedonians. All those who left lost their
citizenship (on the basis of decree LZ/1947) and their property (first during the civil war with
decrees M/1948 and N/1948 and after it with law 2536/1953) even if the latter had been left at
the hands of relatives or tenants. Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) and MRG-Greece have
documents showing that, at least in one case, a Macedonian, named Athanasios Gotsis, was
stripped of his citizenship four years after his death in a civil war battle. With the same 1953
law, ‘nationally-minded’ Greeks, mostly retired army and police officers and privates, but
also some Vlachs, were resettled in the Macedonian-populated areas, in the very lands which
had been expropriated (Poulton, 1993:178; SAKE, 1993:20).

In the 1950’s, the policy of ‘memoricide’ was subtler than in the past. For example, the state
opened many more kindergartens in the Florina district, where the Macedonian children could
go spend the day, enjoy day-care and warm food, and take lessons of Greek, the only
language they were allowed to speak. Thus, young children, when their parents were at work,
were growing up away from the influence of the Macedonian-speaking grandmothers. The
Bishop of Florina praised the kindergarten’s work. (Avgi, 9/2/1992) Also, the ‘best and the
brightest’ pupils were -and have since been- sent to at least two boarding schools far away in
Kefallonia and Volos, in order to receive ‘proper’ education. Moreover, Macedonians could
hardly find a job in the civil sector and their children were, reportedly, being discouraged
from having a complete secondary education. Towards the end of that decade, the authorities
pressured many villages to stage public swearing-in ceremonies in which they pledged never
to use again the Macedonian language: these ceremonies were proudly reported in the Greek
press (see for example: Eleftheria 7/7/1959; Hellenikos Vorras 8/7/1959; Vima 8/7/1959;
Hellenikos Vorras, 5/8/1959; Kathimerini 11/8/1959; Hellenikos Vorras 11/8/1959).
Finally, many Macedonian villages near the border had been included, through the period of
the dictatorship, in a restricted zone, where the movement of the citizens to and out of that
zone was controlled by the authorities (such zone had also existed through 1995 in the

mountain villages of Thrace where Pomaks and Turks, both identifying as ethnic Turks, have
been living). At the same time, Greek authorities resettled in Macedonian-populated areas
many Greeks with ‘healthy national consciousness’ often giving them the property of the
Macedonians who had fled the country (Poulton, 1995:162).

In that context, it is interesting to mention the Greek-Yugoslav border movement agreement

of 18/6/1959: it called for the freedom of movement of inhabitants of the villages and the two
towns (i.e. Florina/Lerin in Greece and Bitola/Monastir in Yugoslav Macedonia) in a 10 km
zone each side of the frontier between the two countries: some 3,000 of them from each side
(excluding political refugees from Greece, though) could travel (without passports), trade,
cultivate land and exercise liberal professions freely within that zone; the special licenses
were issued in Greek and Macedonian (the term was used not in the text but by Greek foreign
minister E. Averoff-Tossizza in parliament), which implied an official recognition of the latter
by Greek authorities. The agreement was repealed in 1967 by the dictatorship and has never
been reinstated since the restoration of democracy in 1974, despite repeated Yugoslav
démarches in that direction (Valden, 1991:12-14 & 128).

Recent repression

Discrimination against average Macedonians

Even the most militant Macedonians acknowledge that their situation has improved since the
restoration of democracy in 1974, and, especially, since the coming of the socialists to power
in 1981, when the public use of their language, dancing of their dances and singing of their
songs was again tolerated, at least until the return of the conservatives to power, when again
some of the public festivities were broken up by police. After the socialists returned to power
in 1993, many Macedonians reported a slight easing up of repression.

From an international human rights point of view, the most important discrimination against
the minority is the official refusal to recognize it, even as a linguistic one, with the
consequence that there is no education in Macedonian, not even any teaching of the
Macedonian language in the public schools of villages and towns with large, if not exclusive,
Macedonian population. The Greek authorities may be partners of the CSCE agreements that
call for the respect of the self-determination of the minorities, but they do not acknowledge
that there are Greek citizens who declare having not a Greek but a Macedonian consciousness
and national identity; or just a Macedonian ethnic identity and no national identity: when
confronted with information about self-professed Macedonians, the official Greek attitude is
either demeaning, ‘they are a handful’, or demonizing, ‘they are Skopjian agents’. As for their
language, the official position repeated to the fact-finding mission over and over again is that
it is an idiom with many Greek, Slav, and other words, based on ‘Homeric Greek’, with no
syntax or grammar (Karakasidou, 1993:11), therefore not able to be considered a proper

These arguments are also put forward for the Aromanian and the Arvanite minority languages
in Greece, and they are even defended by some Greek linguists, but by no non-Greek ones.
The speakers of the Macedonian language are therefore called ‘bilinguals’ or, at best,
‘Slavophone Greeks’. As a result, the use of the language is waning from generation to
generation, especially as, after decades of repression, many parents do not want their children
to learn it as it could jeopardize their future. The mission was told of one recent case of a
harsh and humiliating punishment of a pupil for speaking the language at the Xyno Nero
school, and of reproof to the parents of another pupil who disagreed with his history teacher

on a matter related to his culture. It should be mentioned though that, in recent years, there
has been a -limited in scope- revival of interest, with young people eager to learn their
parents’ and grandparents’ language, mainly in the Florina department which has always been
the strongest in Macedonian population (almost all people the mission met there agreed that
50%-70% are Macedonian native speakers).

The Macedonians of Greece, though, have a higher priority than the official recognition and
the teaching of, or in, their own language. With no exception, the first concern is granting
their relatives who live abroad, mostly in the Republic of Macedonia, as political refugees, the
right to freely return to and/or visit their native land. The latter’s plight was eloquently
described by the socialist deputy of Florina George Lianis, when his party was in opposition
in 1991 (EDM, 1992:16):

“There are a number of political refugees from the Florina area who has never
returned to Greece. (...) And I tell you that they are Greeks, who have brothers,
fathers and grand-fathers in Florina, in the villages of that area, who they cannot
visit with for weddings, (...) for funerals, (...) and these people cannot enter our
fatherland not even with the status of visitors. I want to add that some, exploiting the
fact that Skopje are indeed making anti-Hellenic propaganda, hurt the local pride by
insinuating that whoever raises such issues or demands the return of a certain
number of refugees who are Greeks (...) is suspect.”

Mr. Lianis became secretary of state for sports in the 1993 PASOK government and is
reported to be very close to the Prime Minister: although the easing up of repression may bear
his influence, he has done nothing to correct the above situation, as the conflict between
Greece and the Republic of Macedonia makes such a policy decision very delicate and
probably very unpopular. The mission heard of many specific cases of political exiles who
could not come to Greece for a short visit even when an important family matter (relative on
the deathbed, funeral, wedding) was involved. However, in all these cases, on both sides of
the border, it was clear that the people concerned indeed defined themselves as Macedonians
and not Greeks, contrary to Mr. Lianis’ argument. The mission visited the annual festival of
these Macedonian exilés in the Republic of Macedonia in 1993 and was convinced that they
all have a Macedonian national identity that they are not willing to renounce in order to return
to Greece. This division of families by the border was the subject of Angelopoulos’ film The
Suspended Step of the Stork, shot in Florina amidst continuing unrest of the most nationalist
sectors of the local population, led by the bishop.

As official census data do not exist, and if they did they would not be reliable, we will
mention here the most frequent estimate of some 200,000 Macedonian speakers in Greece
(IHF, 1993:45; & Rizopoulos, 1993); the 1987 Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year
1987 gives an estimate of 180,000 (Banfi, 1994:5). Also, an anonymous Greek ethnologist
gave an estimate of 200,000 for the community, among whom some 100,000 understand the
language and a few thousands have a Macedonian conscience (Chiclet, 1994:8). Another
scholar, based of a detailed estimate of 30,000 speakers in the Florina and Aridea area makes
a global estimate of 100,000-150,000 Macedonian speakers throughout Greek Macedonia
(Van Boeschoten, 1994). Thus, the 200,000 estimate for the Macedonian community seems
reasonable, also in view of the fact that the -naturally conservative- prefects of Greek
Macedonia estimate the ‘idiom’ speakers at some 100,000 (Financial Times, 4/11/1992), also
the estimate of the Jyllands Posten correspondent (17/7/1993). Among them, a minority of a
few tens of thousands, a figure growing since the beginning of the recent ‘Macedonian
imbroglio’ (Karakasidou, 1993:20), have a non-Greek consciousness (Danforth, 1993:8);

most of the latter probably live in the Florina area: “the figure [of nationally conscious
Macedonians] may increase in conditions of free expression which today do not exist”
(Valden, 1993:21), when “many people are afraid to [even] admit they know the language”
(Karakasidou, 1993:11). The results of the Macedonian minority list in the June 1994
European elections (7,263 votes which correspond to a total population of more than 10,000)
also confirm that the Macedonians with a national identity are neither a negligible (‘a
handful’) nor the largest section of the Macedonian community. In fact, given the difficult
circumstances of this first election appearance, the estimate of a few tens of thousands of
people with a Macedonian national consciousness in Greece seems plausible.

The issue of the return of the political refugees who left Greece after the civil war was solved
for all non-Macedonians with ministerial decision 106841/1982 (Official Gazette, second
volume, 5/1/1983):

“All the Greeks by origin who during the Civil War 1946-1949 and because of it
sought refuge abroad as political refugees may freely return to Greece even if they
had been stripped of the Greek Nationality.”

The decision also called for the restoration of the citizenship to all those applying for it, and
covered their immediate family. The refugees who were not Greek by origin, that is the
Macedonians, were not allowed to return, a decision taken by the then socialist government
with the tacit agreement of the conservative and the communist opposition. In fact,
“[s]uccessive Greek governments have claimed that these people are agents deeply involved
with ‘Skopjan’ anti-Greek propaganda activities” (Karakasidou, 1993:12). The origin of each
applicant was established on the basis of his/her declaration: nevertheless, most Macedonian
political refugees opted to declare their different, Macedonian nationality and lose their right
to return to Greece.

In a related matter, since the collapse of Yugoslavia and the practical closing of the border
between Greece and Macedonia in early 1992 (those crossing it were being harassed and often
ended up with security files, later conveniently leaked in the extreme nationalist weekly
Stohos), the population of Florina lost their regular contacts with that of Bitola, less than half-
an-hour away, with which it had more frequent contacts than with the closest Greek city.
Florina and Bitola are in the same plain and are separated by mountains from the other major
cities in their respective countries. The economy of Florina was severely hurt as a
consequence; but for the Macedonians, this severance also meant being cut off from their
relatives as many live in the Bitola area or they could easily reach it.
Macedonians have also been discriminated against in the hiring in the public sector, though
the mission heard that that was more acute in the past than nowadays. Such a practice was
certainly commonplace before the 1980s, and a leaked secret National Security Service
memorandum of 16/2/1982 (reg. no. 6502/7-50428), at the hands of GHM and MRG-Greece,
recommended, besides the non-return of the Macedonian political refugees, also the hiring of
non-Macedonian-speakers in the civil service and, ‘especially’ in schools. Moreover, a hand-
written letter to Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis by the commune president of Kelli (a
village with Macedonian-speakers with Greek consciousness) in February 1992 with the plea
to hire some villagers in the public sector acknowledged past discrimination against the
villagers: “we do not have one civil servant from our village” (Moglena, May 1993). On the
other hand, the Meliti commune president and secretary of the PASOK District Committee,
who told the mission he is Macedonian (“how can I say I am a Greek when the state refused
my grandfather the right to return to Greece because he is not a Greek”) just like many of his
villagers, argued that, since the restoration of democracy, all local party organizations have

been taken over by ‘indigenous’ -‘dopioi’- (as Macedonians are usually called) who, through
the usual patronage system, have pushed for the hiring of party sympathizers regardless of
their origins; this resulted in more indigenous than refugees being hired, as the district has a
70% local population, and, as a consequence, it is now the refugees who are complaining that
they are discriminated against.

Moreover, some name changing of localities is still taking place. The mission saw that the
Pozar Baths (in the Pella district) have been renamed to Loutraki Baths (poorly corrected road
signs and pre-1990 official maps were convincing evidence) and heard allegations that an
effort to rename Kopano (in the Katerini district) was under way in mid-1993. Sometimes, the
name changing is requested by the village’s administration, either because it is so ‘instructed’
or in an effort to prove the villagers’ Greekness by adopting an ancient Greek name of some
adjacent archeological site. Another prewar measure, the replacement of icons with Slavic
inscription and the tearing down of ‘Exarchist’ churches, resumed in Florina since the current
bishop took office during the junta: he is still “implementing an order of the foreign ministry”
as he wrote in a local newspaper about the icons’ removal (Moglena, May 1993) and
“because of irreparable structural damages” for the churches as he, and some priests, told the

Conflict over land is also reappearing from time to time: the mission heard allegations that a
dried-out section of the Vegoritida lake was refused to the adjacent indigenous villagers of
Aghia Paraskevi (Florina district) despite State Court decisions in their favor, so that it be
given to the refugee villagers of Vegora. Especially after 1989, moreover, public singing and
dancing of Macedonian songs and dances has often been broken up by police (Karakasidou,
1993:13), as such a cultural activity “remains a nationally suspect if not anti-Greek act”
(Lygeros, 1992:97).

To conclude this section, we should mention the views of the prefect of the Florina district,
the mayor of the city of Florina, and the bishop of Florina, in July 1993. The prefect denied
the existence of a distinct minority and gave the aforementioned arguments for the ‘idiom’,
admitting though that it is “broadly spoken in the area.” He denied the existence of any
discrimination against the indigenous generally and in the public sector or the existence of
any climate of fear, claiming that those who make these arguments and those who say they
are not Greeks but Macedonians are a small group (“they can be counted one by one”) “who
are not serving Greek national interests, as they are directed from centers abroad.”

Asked to substantiate these serious allegations, he said that he could not give any proof, but
that such is the impression they give when they say they are not free to exercise their
activities. He also denied knowledge of the Misalis case of lost citizenship (see below),
though the mission later saw official correspondence between him and Mr. Misalis to that
effect. He also assured the mission that it was not followed by any security police or secret
service, something that contradicted the mission’s experience as related above.

Florina’s mayor argued that the ‘idiom’ (for which he offered similar arguments) was spoken
by very few and those who claim the contrary are wrong. He even took exception to the use of
the term ‘Slavophone Greeks’ by then Prime Minister Mitsotakis (to whose party he belongs)
saying that he said it because he does not know the situation in the district. He finally named
five activists who, according to his view, are the only ones who claim to be Macedonians.
When told that the commune president of Meliti also claimed a Macedonian ethnic identity,
he embarrassingly replied he is sorry to hear it but he is wrong.

Finally, the bishop was very hostile and accused the mission’s foreign members of being
agents of foreign powers or of Skopje. In the brief encounter he even denied things he had
said to the Greek press, especially that, for a large number of inhabitants of Florina, the idiom
is their mother tongue and it is anyway largely spoken in the area, where “the Greek language
is shrunk, as the large majority of people barely know 500-600 Greek words” (Avgi,

After the October 1993 parliamentary election, when a Macedonian activist stood as an
independent in the Florina district and received 369 votes, the official argument that those
with a Macedonian consciousness were a mere ‘handful’ was updated (letter of Ambassador
Elias Gounaris to The Independent, 16 May 1994):

“This has been proved once more, and quite dramatically, at the last elections. When
a local eccentric, one A. Boules, decided to test the waters, run for parliament and
become the recognized chief of a slavophone community in Greece, he polled at the
general elections of 10 October 1993 exactly 369 votes. Now this number is certainly
not representative of the bilingual Macedonians living in Greece. However, Mr.
Boules and company, maverick leaders of 369 voters, have been misled to believe
that they represent a minority, even an “oppressed” one; and that as a result of this
newfound status, they can enjoy internationally sanctioned privileges and immunities.
This is not the case.”

A month later, the Macedonians polled more than 7,000 votes. The Greek authorities had then
to revise their arguments again.

Harassment of Macedonian activists

Until the late 1980’s, there was no apparent autonomous (i.e. outside the mainstream political
parties and associations) minority activism in Greece. However, as on the one hand the
problems grew and on the other the emphasis in the post-cold war European world moved
towards human rights, both in Thrace and in Macedonia some members of minorities became
energetic human and minority rights activists. Among those with a Macedonian national
identity, two organizations had emerged by 1994: the older one is the Macedonian Human
Rights Movement, with Christos Sideropoulos as president in recent years, and the newest
one is the Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity (MAKIVE), run by a five-member
secretariat and occasionally publishing a newspaper (first called Moglena -Byzantine name of
the area- then Zora -Macedonian for dawn). The former appears to be more active in the
international fora and in close contact with the overseas Macedonian organizations, while the
latter seems to have a broader base within Greece with members from at least six districts.

In 1993, they both filed candidates in elections: Tasos Boulis of the first organization ran as
an independent in the October parliamentary elections, in the Florina district, and received
369 votes (1% of the electorate), while Pavlos Voskopoulos of the latter ran in the January
indirect elections for the prefecture councils (elected by the president and the council
members of all municipalities and communes of each district) and received 84 votes (14% of
the electorate). In the June 1994 Euroelections, a Rainbow list was presented by MAKIVE, in
cooperation with the Rainbow group of the European Parliament (which included the minority
and regionalist MEP’s between 1989-1994). The list was immediately strongly attacked and
slandered by the state news agency and some media; then the country’s Supreme Court
invalidated its candidacy, on the grounds that it had not declared it was not aiming at

overthrowing the regime, a declaration not used since 1974. Following the outcry, the
Rainbow and two other leftist lists, which were initially excluded were reinstated. The
Rainbow list was the only one not to get any air time on state television during the campaign
and was not able to distribute ballots in most Southern Greek electoral districts; also, on
election day, GHM and MRG-Greece received reliable information that the Rainbow ballot
was not given to the voters in many Greater Athens voting places. Despite all those problems,
Rainbow received 7,263 votes or 0.1% of the total electorate. Its relative share of the vote was
significant in three districts where it received more than half its votes: 5.7% in Florina, 1.3%
in Pella, and 0.9% in Kastoria. In the October 1994 more polarized district elections, the
Rainbow list in Florina received 3.5%.

A year later, in September 1995, the office Rainbow opened in Florina, with an inscription in
both Greek and Macedonian, was attacked and sacked by a ‘mob’, led by the mayor of
Florina; before the sacking, the prosecutor had ordered the removal of the inscription and had
announced the indictment of Rainbow leaders for having incited division of the people
through the use of the Macedonian language on their sign: no political party, nor any medium
condemned the sacking of the party offices, which was on the contrary praised by extreme
right nationalistic papers like Stohos and Chrysi Avghi, whose members reportedly took part
in the sacking. In fact, the use of the bilingual inscription was condemned by all political
parties, one of which, PASOK, even initiated a court procedure which was later withdrawn, as
it appeared that many signatures on it had been put without the knowledge of those

The authorities continuously harass the Macedonian activists, as they claimed, and the
mission was able to substantiate in some instances. First, they are often followed by national
security or secret service agents, just like the mission itself was. Secondly, they are repeatedly
treated as Skopjan agents by authorities and media alike, without ever the latter providing any
substantive claim or -in the case of most media-publishing disclaimer or protest letters
sometimes sent by the activists: it is characteristic to mention here the instructive public
dialogue between two then mere deputies, the conservative Virginia Tsouderou, who later
became secretary of state in the foreign ministry in charge among other things of human
rights, accusing some groups of Macedonians of their “willingness to serve another country
(...) [and] along with the Skopjans make this cultural assault and genocide to the detriment of
Greece”; and the socialist George Lianis, deputy of Florina, and since late 1993 secretary of
state for sports, who called this allegation “an inconceivable thing for Greece in the 1990s”
(EDM, 1992:18 & 22).

Thirdly, at least two activists, Christos Sideropoulos and Tasos Boulis, have stood trial and
were convicted for having spoken out as Macedonians, while the former was also indicted for
having spoken out at the 1990 Copenhague CSCE meeting (the charges were dropped in
1995, after an international mobilization campaign launched by our organizations). In early
1994, a general amnesty led to the dropping of the charges in the former case, as well as in
most cases of mainly leftist Greek activists who had publicly disagreed with official history or
policy of Greece on Macedonia and the minority and were convicted or had cases pending
against them (two such cases still await for their appeals in 1996). In other cases, intellectuals
or journalists were left without jobs for publicly holding similar, ‘heretic’ views (details of
these persecutions can be found in Helsinki Watch et al., 1993). Also, in May 1994, the ultra-
nationalist weekly Stohos gave the addresses, phone numbers or car license numbers of two
scholars who have such ‘dissident’ views, encouraging its readers to show them their feelings;
one of them received death threats as a result and was forced to cancel her field research plans
in the Macedonian villages (see The Independent, 10 May 1994, for one of these cases).

Moreover, the same newspaper, on 17 August 1994, asked that MRG-Greece and Greek
Helsinki Monitor spokesperson Panayote Elias Dimitras “and his likes” be “thrown out of the

Fourthly, the mission witnessed the expulsion from Greece of a young Macedonian from
Meliti, George Misalis, who is an activist in Australia. He has been stripped of his citizenship
on the basis of article 20 of the nationality code (for alleged actions abroad benefiting a
foreign government) without ever having been properly informed of the decision; an appeal
was turned down by the prefect who asked him to come in person to file it; when he finally
did, in July 1993, and while he made a short visit to Bitola to see his relatives, he was not
allowed back in, as Greeks who lose their citizenship are blacklisted even when they have
other passports (Australian in this case): so, he was practically denied an appeal by the
prefect, who at the same time claimed to the mission he was not familiar with his case.
Subsequently, the Greek Foreign Ministry wrote to the Danish Helsinki Committee that the
border authorities should have given Mr. Misalis a transit visa (Siesby, 1993).

Fifth, the ordeal of a priest, Father Nikodimos Tsarknias, is indicative of how far persecution
can go when the state and the church coordinate it. He was one of the first activists and was
publishing, through his sister, the newspaper Moglena, which reported on local problems,
including minority issues. Because he spoke against the bishop of Florina, he was fired in
1981; in 1982, he was reinstated by the bishop of Kilkis in a parish with mostly refugee
population where he became very popular; since 1983, there was pressure to remove him
again which culminated in 1990 when apparently faked indecent pictures were circulated and
contributed to his second dismissal in early 1993; Father Tsarknias told the mission that he
has joined the Macedonian Church and was thinking of starting a parish in Greece, something
which will complicate matters as that Church is still both Old Calendarist and not recognized
by any other Orthodox Church. By the end of 1995, Father Tsarknias had accumulated more
than a dozen convictions for ‘pretense of authority’ as he was, according to the courts,
‘impersonating a priest’ because he continued to wear the frock; he has always appealed and
has never been in prison, though he has spent a few days in custody before some of the trials.
In some of his trials, as in the trials of the aforementioned activists, many elements of fair trial
were absent. In Appendix II, we present the detailed statements of our organizations on these

Sixth, the mission heard of the consequences in the personal and professional lives of the
Macedonians. The first movement’s president was forced to resign his state tenured job after
he was transferred to a far away island following his deposition at a CSCE meeting.
Moreover, activists of the second group from the Aridaia area (district of Pella) signed in
1992 a petition asking for Macedonians’ rights; some of the reactions against them included
extreme psychological pressure on their relatives, including their children, in small villages;
slandering graffiti still visible in mid-1993 (GHM and MRG-Greece have pictures of it);
removal of an officer from elected office in an association for ‘having damaged its
reputation’; loss of clientele which was threatened so as not to patronize a private business;

Seventh, we heard repeated allegations that printers are discouraged by the authorities to print
the activists’ newspaper and that many of the latter’s issues never reach their addressees, as
they are thrown away at the post office: the latter claim seems to be substantiated by related
bragging and the publication of addressee lists in Stohos; also by the tampering with mail sent
to the Greek Helsinki Monitor and to a dissident writer, as well as the non-distribution of

Zora and the Jehovah Witnesses’ correspondence in early 1994, confirmed by the Greek
Helsinki Monitor (see GMHMR 1994a:14-5 & 1994b:9).

Finally, the Greek courts have repeatedly refused the necessary accreditation to a Macedonian
cultural association; the Supreme Court confirmed that decision, and the matter is now before
the European Court of Human Rights. At the same time, the mission heard many complaints
that the state’s subsidies to cultural associations in the Florina district are distributed
disproportionably to the ‘nationally correct’ ‘Aristotle’ association, at the expense of all other
cultural associations in the district (For more details on the current human rights issues, see
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, 1994).

It should be noted here that the activists have never raised sensitive issues like autonomy or
secession; on the contrary, the Macedonian Human Rights Movement, in a 20/7/1993 letter to
the Prime Minister asking for a treatment of the Macedonians in Greece similar to the one the
Prime Minister had just claimed from the Albanian authorities for the Greeks in Albania,
stated clearly that the Macedonians are “an inseparable part of Greece (...) an ethnic
Macedonian minority which is a constituent element of the Greek state.” Moreover, its
president has supported the respect of present borders and taken a distance from the
movements of Macedonian emigrants that call for an independent or an autonomous
Macedonia, while he voiced his disapproval for the choice of the ‘Vergina star’ as the
Republic of Macedonia’s national symbol (Avgi, 4/11/1992). The MAKIVE activists, in
conversation with members of the mission, and later on in discussions with other international
missions, expressed similar views on these sensitive issues, adding that their European
perspective favors the lowering of the borders rather than the anachronistic redrawing of

The dark side of the moon: Greece’s human rights record

The Greek state’s poor human rights record

Greece’s human rights record is very poor when judged by traditional Western, liberal
standards, but not very bad by Third World or even post-communist Central European
standards. As Greece, though, has participated in the competent Western institutions like the
Council of Europe since the beginning, one would have expected her to have adapted her
human rights standards to the average Western, liberal ones. This is far from being the case,
and the attitude of the other Western countries is partly responsible for it: whereas they were
vigilant during the seven-year dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974), they have hardly looked at
Greece’s human rights problems since the restoration of democracy in 1974, giving her the
impression she can proceed with such a poor record unobstructed.

The first factor explaining Greece’s poor human rights record is historical and can be traced
back to the creation and the early development of the modern Greek nation-state in the
nineteenth and early twentieth century (Kitromilidis, 1992:50-8):

“Independence was achieved without the civil liberties and the civil rights (...) the
vision of freedom remained unaccomplished. (...) [I]n the course of the nineteenth
century [there is] an antinomy between modernizing liberalism and pretentious and
inflexible nationalism in the furthering of the demand for national integration. The
study of this antinomy in the Greek political thought leads to sad conclusions. The
deviation from the attachment to the rational examination of political problems and

the defense of freedoms and the entrapment, on the contrary, in the authoritarian
rationale of a highest bidding national intolerance which does not accept challenges
and alternative approaches includes as a price of demagogy an ineluctable national
disaster. (...) The passions of the national schism (...) resulted in a terrible
intolerance and phanatism in Greek society, with as the first victim naturally the
respect of individual rights and the rights of dissenters. (...) The defense of the right
of dissent in Greek society often sounded like a cry of despair and isolated protest.”

The second factor is Orthodox Christianity, which has a central role in Greek political culture
(Diamandouros, 1983:57):

“[T]he concept of hellenicity in modern Greek history is inextricably intertwined

with that of Orthodoxy, and (...) this twin conception of modern Greece has definite
implications for the value structure of the society. (...) While, therefore, the overall
influence of the Church within Greek society is declining, it still remains an
institution which, whether directly or indirectly, continues to have an impact on the
attitudes, beliefs, and values of the population and to act as a powerful mechanism of
secondary political socialization.”

But, Orthodoxy and human rights are fundamentally incompatible, as Orthodoxy has yet to
adapt itself to (in fact lose out to, like Catholicism) secularization (Pollis, 1993; for similar
arguments see also Lipovatz, 1993):

“The historical origins of contemporary individual human rights lie in the natural
law which (...) has been alien to Orthodoxy. (...) The implication for human rights of
these sharp discrepancies between Catholicism and Protestantism on the one hand,
each of which, in its own way, values the diversity and recognizes the Church as
temporal, and Orthodoxy which dissolves the individualized person into the spiritual
organic whole of Ekklisia, are profound. (...) Of crucial importance for the discussion
that follows on Orthodoxy, the state and rights, is the contrast between the West
where separation of Church and state prevails, even in states such as England where
there is an established church, and Orthodox societies in which such a separation is
alien. (...) In Western Europe the new nation-states (...) were an affirmation of
secularism and liberalism. In sharp contrast in the Balkans and Eastern Europe
nationalism and religion, particularly Orthodoxy, became intertwined. The
construction of national identities among Orthodox Christians in the dismembered
Empires invariably incorporated religion as a crucial component of the newly
constructed nationality. The ethnos (nation) and Orthodoxy became a unity. (...) By
contrast, in Western Europe nationality and religion are delinked; religion is not a
crucial element of national identity. (...) The inexorable conclusion which flows from
the above analysis is that individual human rights cannot be derived from Orthodox
theology. The entire complex of civil and political rights -freedom of religion,
freedom of speech and press, freedom of association, due process of law, among
others- cannot be grounded in Orthodoxy -they stem from a radically different world

Such is the influence of the Orthodox tradition even on widely considered ‘progressive’ legal
scholars in Greece that (Pollis, 1993):

“It is in fact striking that Greece’s eminent scholar, Aristovoulos Manesis, and a
staunch defender of rights, forcefully rejects natural law and its derivative natural

rights as constituting the origin of the contemporary theory of rights. It is the state
that is the source of individual rights for Manesis and not natural law.”

The consequence of such thinking is that (Pagoulatos, 1992:48):

“If though individual rights are not natural but are granted by the state (...) does this
mean that the state (...) has the right to take these rights back? The answer of (...)
profoundly antitotalitarian and genuine European intellectual (...) Constantine
Tsatsos is -implicitly but clearly-affirmative”

The third factor explaining Greece’s poor human rights records in recent years is the
resurgence of nationalism since late 1991, as a result of the way politicians treated the
‘Macedonian problem.’ On the one hand and for the reasons explained above, Greeks grow up
within a very intolerant political culture. On the other hand, Western societies in crisis often
seek refuge in nationalism in what we have called its ‘primitive’ form (Dimitras & Lenkova,
1995), as Julia Kristeva has convincingly stated (Le Monde des Débats, October 1992):

“The depressed individual covers himself with a kind of shell drawing upon archaic
identity values: land, blood, cult of language; whatever is most familiar, most
maternal, most hot. For the nations, depression resulting from a fragmentation of the
social fiber often leads to an apology of national origins which is fundamentally a
discourse of hatred, a discourse unacceptable in Europe after the nevertheless
prestigious history of our civilization.”

The combination, therefore of traditional intolerance and the primitive nationalist resurgence
in times of deep social and political crisis in Greece, spearheaded by an external stimulus (the
issue of the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia) led to nationalist hysteria: as a result,
not only any dialogue on minorities could not take place but, for the first time in the post-
1974 democratic period of Greece, heralded as the most liberal in its history, people were
prosecuted for their opinions on the basis of laws introduced by dictatorships but never
repealed since. Within fifteen months, twenty Greek citizens were tried and fifteen of them
convicted for voicing dissenting opinions on ‘national’ issues, and the prosecution appealed
the acquittal of the remaining five. Eventually, an amnesty law swept away most of these
convictions or pending trials, with only two still awaiting their appeals in 1996 (Helsinki
Watch et al., 1993; GMHMR, 1994a: 3-6).

These trials have led to growing international reaction, reminiscent of the dictatorship years.
Amnesty International has sent letters and published at least two special reports on the trials
(Amnesty International, 1992 & 1993); likewise for Helsinki Watch & The Fund for Free
Expression (Helsinki Watch et al., 1993). In addition, letters were sent by the Minority Rights
Group affiliates in Flanders, France, Denmark, and St. Petersburg, as well as by the
Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers, Article 19: International Center Against
Censorship, International Pen: Writers in Prison Committee. The International Helsinki
Federation for Human Rights, as well as its Balkan national committees, has also issued
public appeals. Finally, proposals for motions were introduced by the Rainbow and the Green
groups in the European Parliament, but were never passed, while in the US Congress, the
Congressional Committee to Support Writers and Journalists, made up of 16 senators and 76
representatives, has sent a letter too. It is characteristic that the new socialist Minister of
Justice promised, in the fall of 1993, to abolish or amend the articles which led to those trials
and convictions; he subsequently never did as he was reportedly told by his colleagues in the

government that the major foreign policy problems Greece is faced with necessitate to keep
those articles so as to quiet dissent.

More specifically, towards minorities, Greece’s official attitude can be simply summarized in
one sentence:

‘in Greece there is only one minority recognized by international treaty, it is a

religious minority, the Muslims of Thrace, it is blossoming and enjoying its full
rights, and makes up some 1.5% of the total population.’

Naturally, anyone who claims the contrary is suspect, and, if s/he is a Greek may end up in
court. Never mind that, implicitly, Greek jurisprudence recognizes as ‘allogenous’ (i.e. of
non-Greek origin) all those who do not have a national consciousness, established on the basis
of common racial origin, often but not always common language and religion, and especially
common history and ideals (Armenopoulos, 1975:10), so that they can be deprived of their
citizenship through article 19 of the citizenship code or be refused any job as kindergarten or
primary school teachers. Nor that, in the 1950s, the same state ordered all Muslims in Thrace
to call themselves Turks and not Muslims, threatening them with penalties if they did not
comply (Helsinki Watch, 1990:51-3) and even in the 1990’s some schoolbooks call them
Turks (Skoulatos et al. 1990:117).

Likewise, modern Greece has often recognized its Slav minority and its language as Bulgarian
or Macedonian Slav or just Slav: in the official map circulated in the post-World War I
negotiations (Soteriadis, 1918), in at least one official Greek Foreign Ministry document of
1924 (the language was mentioned as Macedonian, Divani, 1995:228), in interwar
newspapers (Margaritis, 1993:27) or official notary documents (GHM and MRG-Greece have
copies of them), in its publication of the 1920, 1928, 1940 and 1951 census results
(Lithoxoou, 1995 -for the 1920 census where the language is mentioned simply as
Macedonian and is distinct from Bulgarian (!)- & Dimitras, 1991:62 -for the other), in public
statements by leading politicians like Venizelos and Papagos (MHRMG, 1991:10 & 16).
Moreover, when Ambassador Tsamados tried to explain to the Yugoslavs the Politis-Kalfof
agreement, he argued that (Divani, 1995:139).

“[Greece’s] Slav populations should rather be considered as belonging to the

Bulgarian [and not the Serbian] nation because both of their language and their
national consciousness.”

In reality, the various linguistic, religious and ethnic minorities in Greece make more than
10% of the population, while the (semi) official data implicitly acknowledge 6%. Officially,
the Muslims of Thrace are estimated at 120,000; also, the local authorities estimate the
Macedonian-speakers at about 100,000, while Greece admits the presence of some 300,000
Roma; moreover, Greek authorities have no problem in acknowledging the presence of some
50,000 Catholics and of some 50,000 Jehovah Witnesses and Protestants, as well as a few
thousand Jews: thus, we reach 6% of the population. However, the figures for the Muslims are
exaggerated: our own careful estimates on the basis of the 1991 census and the area’s
electoral behavior, confirmed by a state official who wants to remain anonymous, indicate
that, in Thrace, we have at most some 50,000 Turks, 30,000 Pomaks, and 10,000 Muslim
Roma; a few thousand Pomaks, Turks, and Muslim Roma are elsewhere in the country, while
there are at least a few thousand Greeks with Turkish as their mother tongue. The official
figures for the Macedonian-speakers and the Roma are underestimated according to
knowledgeable experts, who put the two communities at 200,000 and 350,000 respectively.

Also, experts estimate that there are two 200,000-large communities of Aromanians (or
Vlachs) and Arberor (or Arvanites) (see Banfi, 1994 for a summary of some of these
estimates). No estimates exist, though, for the Old Calendarists. All these figures lead us to an
estimate of the probable share of minorities at near 11%; to that, one should add at least
500,000 mostly illegal foreign immigrants in Greece, who thus make another 5% of the near
11 million inhabitants of the country.

The confusion is such that the existence of Macedonians with no Greek consciousness is
implicitly admitted even in the official propaganda material the Greek state has been
distributed in the 1990s. So, for example, one can read that, after the exchange of populations
in the 1920s (IIPSS, c1991:8-30):

“the population of that area became purely Greek even though some of the
inhabitants were bilingual. In other words, Greek Macedonia became an entirely
homogeneous part of the Greek State.”

This homogeneity is belied, though, in the very next sentence:

“This became even more the case in the post-Occupation period (1945-1949), when
almost all the bilingual inhabitants of the area whose national consciousness was not
Greek moved to neighboring states.”

And a few pages later:

“In Greek Macedonia (...) a smaller group (...) had adopted the Bulgarian national
identity or remained non-aligned” or “In the past, there were undoubtedly persons
with a Slav national consciousness, who sometimes behaved as Bulgarians and
sometimes as Slav-Macedonians.”

Two other booklets, with a very similar content but with interesting omissions, additions and
corrections in the most recent one, also acknowledge the presence of Macedonians before the
war and, the first, recommends that:

“the various national groups who live in the wide Macedonian space should be
called clearly -and especially when abroad- as Slav or Yugoslav Macedonians, Greek
Macedonians or Bulgarian Macedonians”

(a suggestion omitted from the newest edition) (Christopoulos et al., 1991:26-8 & 45-7;
MNER, 1992:32).

On the other hand, the Greek judiciary seems less confused and more determined to set the
record straight: so, in rejecting the Macedonians’ demand to accredit their cultural
association, the Shelter for Macedonian Culture, the Fourth Section of the Salonica Appeals
Court made, in its 8 May 1991 decision no. 1558, sweeping statements ‘beyond any doubt’
about historical truth (exact borders of ancient Macedonia; Greekness and Greek purity of
ancient Macedonians and of their language, their religion and their habits; the role of the area
of Macedonia throughout history basing their arguments even on a Nazi tourist guide:
“according to a Guide of Salonica prepared by German historians and archeologists during the
last (World) War (II)”), linguistics (character of the local ‘idiom’), geography (the city of
Skopje belongs not to Macedonia but to Dardania), minorities (absence of particular Slavic
culture from the area of Greek Macedonia, the Macedonian minority is ‘ethnologically non-

existent and historically repugnant’), and concluded that ‘the defense of national
independence and human rights cannot be the work of associations’. These arguments are
now part of Greek jurisprudence and can be used to prosecute other dissenters, although the
case itself is pending before the European Commission of Human Rights.

There is no question that the Greek state’s human rights record is in violation of the many
international conventions it has ratified, i.e. the various CSCE documents on the human
dimension, the Council of Europe’s human rights conventions, and the UN human rights
conventions. But even in her attitude towards international human rights conventions, Greece
is behind all other EEC and West European countries. Namely, Greece has yet to sign or
ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its Optional Protocol
(by the end of 1995, Turkey was the only other European country not having ratified it), and
was the only Council of Europe member voting against the new Charter of Regional and
Minority Languages in 1992 (although in the official record of the vote the Greek
representative managed to change the ‘no’ vote to abstention).

The lack of documentation

The Macedonian minority in Greece is one of the least known minorities in Europe, just like
most other minorities in Greece and in the Southern Balkan countries. In earlier, specialized,
literature, there is no reference to any minorities in Greece (Caratini, 1986) or there is a
reference only to the Muslims, reportedly enjoying their full rights (GDM, 1987). The first
EEC report on linguistic minorities did not include Greece, as “the channels we tried to
establish with Greece have not functioned to this date” (CCE, 1986:9). When a few years
later, a second report on Spain, Portugal and Greece was prepared for the Commission, only
the summary was ever published, after, reportedly, significant editorializing from the Greek
side which the European Commission unfortunately accepted. In that summary, only one page
is devoted to the “Slav-speaking” minority: one paragraph deals with the precarious situation
of their language as both education and religious ceremonies are carried out exclusively in
Greek, with the rest of the document explaining the Greek official arguments for the
sensitivity of the issue. The new report under preparation in 1994 was supposed to be more
detailed, but it was sloppily handled by the European Commission and will probably never be
published, either because of its very poor quality on Macedonians and Turks or because of the
recent reluctance of the EU to publish documents unfavorable to Greece.

The first effort to document the history and the problems of that minority is MRG’s report on
the minorities in the Balkans, now in its third version, the second edition of the book
(Poulton, 1993:175-182): it is noteworthy that the lack of sufficient documentation in Greece
led to that text being based almost exclusively on Macedonian and other Yugoslav sources.
MRG’s World Directory of Minorities, with the same sources, has references to the
Macedonians of Greece (MRG, 1990). Some anthropologists like Karakasidou (1993) have
probably done the most serious studies, while one can find books published in the 1990’s
claiming that there is no Slavophone or Macedonian minority in Greece (Raufer & Haut,
1992:30 & 80). On the contrary, some references have been made in two recent books about
modern Greece (Dimitras, 1991; Pettifer, 1993), which are far from complete though, as has
also been the case with recent US Department of State reports on human rights in Greece,
which, since 1991, have nevertheless been including more and more references to the
problems of the Macedonians. Recent NGO reports by the Danish Helsinki Committee
(Siesby, 1993) and Human Rights Watch/Helsinki (1994) are certainly the best-informed
documents on the matter.

Although every effort has been made to make this document -in both versions of it- as
accurate as possible, GHM and MRG-Greece believe that it, too, is far from a definite study
of the topic. There is a need to investigate in details all the various claims of discrimination
against that minority, not to establish the obvious, i.e. that such a problem exists, but to verify
how serious it is. Moreover, as many, if not most, Macedonian speakers appear to have a
Greek national consciousness, it is important to do extensive research to establish what
percentage of that minority should be considered as just a linguistic minority, what percentage
as an ethnic minority, and what percentage as a national minority. Naturally, as there are no
reliable figures, there is a need of a fair census for this as well as for the other minorities in
Greece, for which similar detailed studies ought to be carried out.

‘No news from the Western front’: (lack of) international response

One consequence of the lack of sufficient knowledge on the Macedonian minority in Greece
and its problems is that there has hardly been any international interest in her plight. In fact, it
may be argued that, had it not been for Greece’s internationalization of the issue of the
conditions for the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia, most countries would have still
ignored the problem. The only international forums where it was heard had been Australia
and Canada with their very vocal Macedonian communities, and some CSCE meetings when
Macedonian activists from Greece voiced their claims, or Greek Helsinki Monitor and the
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights present the country’s human rights
problems. The Macedonian sources, though, have been treated with caution as they could be
considered as nationalist. Until, therefore, independent documentation of the minority’s
problems was provided, most international governmental and non-governmental institutions
had been reluctant to consider the problem and have therefore implicitly contributed to the
danger of extinction of a minority culture in a European country. With this document and the
reports, which were prepared by the other two NGO’s that joined MRG-Greece in Greek
Macedonia in July 1993, one can hope that international awareness of the subject will be
raised, and Greece will be advised or even pressured to adjust her policy to the international
standards, lest the situation in Greek Macedonia escalates further.

Ways forward to avoid escalation

Given Greece’s poor record by CSCE standards, it is urgent that the High Commissioner’s
office of that institution takes a very careful look at Greek practices in the matter, as he has
already done with the Greek minority in Albania. Perhaps the various international non-
governmental organizations should jointly act at the various competent institutions like the
UN sub-commission on human rights to put Greece’s attitude on their agenda. All these
institutions should pressure Greece to honor her signature of the various international human
rights documents and to sign the new Charter on Minority and Regional Languages of the
Council of Europe, as well as the Framework Convention. They should also encourage her to
make a census of her minorities under international supervision, as the Republic of
Macedonia did in mid-1994.

More specifically for the Macedonians, Greece should first follow “widely accepted
sociolinguistic insight that the decision as to whether a particular variety of speech constitutes
a language or a dialect is always based on political rather than linguistic criteria” (Danforth,
1993:8), and recognize the Macedonian language spoken on both sides of the border. Then,
Greek authorities should introduce instruction of the language at all levels of school and

university system, wherever there is sufficient demand for it. Although the large number of
Macedonians in Florina may even warrant comprehensive schooling in Macedonian, this has
hardly been asked by the people concerned, even by their activists, as they realize that the
young generations ought to come out of school perfectly fluent in Greek, the language
necessary for any advancement in society. Naturally, the persecution of people for speaking,
printing in, singing in or dancing songs in that language ought to stop immediately. Wherever
there is significant demand for it, icons with Cyrillic inscriptions should be reintroduced or
allowed to be introduced in the churches and the reintroduction of services in Macedonian
should be taken into consideration, preferably within the authority of the Church of Greece
and not of that of the Church of Macedonia, to avoid potential complications. Generally, the
Greek state needs to take some form of affirmative action to encourage the survival of that
language, endangered by its previous actions.

Most Macedonians will agree, though, that the first priority is the amendment of the 1982
decree to allow for the free return of all Macedonian political refugees, with the same
conditions applied to the other political refugees, and, even more, as many would not want to
return, the freedom of movement across the frontier so that they can visit their birth places
and their relatives. Obviously, all these people, and all others who lost their citizenship in the
past, should be reinstated should they wish to, and the related articles of the code of
citizenship should be abolished.

As it is understandable that such changes will shock Greek public opinion, it is necessary that
Greece launches an effort to re-educate her citizens on the country’s and the region’s real
recent history, using “memory instead of myths” (Nicolaidis, 1992:50) and inform them on
the country’s human rights obligations. This concerns all religious, linguistic and ethnic
minorities, and not just Macedonians. The media have a key role to play in that effort, which
means that they should take the leadership in such an effort rather than follow the majority of
the county’s intelligentsia in the intolerant path they have chosen: the often praised in Greece
cases of independent and anti-nationalist media in the former Yugoslav republics could serve
as examples.

Moreover, these changes should be introduced with caution so as to avoid that the previously
oppressed Macedonians consider them an opportunity to take revenge of their perceived
oppressors, i.e. the Greeks of refugee origin living in the area, especially in Florina where the
latter make up only a third of the total population. The fact-finding mission heard of
disturbing incidents showing that the two elements may slowly be growing apart, as it has
recently happened in Thrace between the Turks and other Muslims on the one hand and the
Christians, mostly of refugee origins too.

Finally, all the above will be facilitated if they take place within the framework of a global
regional (i.e. Balkan) effort to solve minority issues and make of all the minorities in the
region bridges of understanding rather than potential or actual reasons for conflict. The large
majority of Greeks, even if invited by their authorities, would be very reluctant to accept an
one-sided effort of their country to improve her human rights record, still not the worst in the
region, when the Greek minorities outside Greece (i.e. mainly in Albania and in Turkey) are
also victims of similar if not more intense discrimination. Similar is probably the attitude of
the populations in the other Balkan countries. So, a ‘Balkan CSCE’ is the best way to look for
permanent solutions to the various human rights problems in the region: most people will be
more eager to accept radical improvement of the treatment of their country’s minorities when
they know that the other countries’ minorities will be treated likewise and that, thus, the
minorities will cease to be potential ‘Trojan horses’, as many had indeed been in the past and

many are still perceived to be today. Only then in a way will ‘history be forgotten’, as it has
been in Western Europe.


The Macedonians in Greece have been the victims of a usually systematic campaign of
memoricide by the Greek state in the last half-century. As a result, the majority among them
appears to be assimilated and declare a Greek national consciousness, which does not deprive
them of the status of an at least linguistic minority, similar to those of the Aromanians, the
Arberor or the Roma in Greece. Their ill-treatment is similar to the one the other minorities in
the Balkans have suffered in this century. However, in the case of the Macedonians, the
conflict over the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia is pushing Greece to implement
what some consider “a case of symbolic ethnic cleansing” by attempting “to destroy the
identity, language and culture of that minority” (Danforth, 1993:10). It appears that the effort
is backfiring, as the level of ethnic consciousness has been on the rise among Macedonian
speakers since the beginning of the recent Macedonian imbroglio in 1991: the Greek state
therefore “may be nurturing the very nightmare it wishes to dispel” (Danforth, 1993:8), i.e.
the creation of a large and militant ethnic minority with hostile feelings towards the Greek
state, like the Turks and other Muslims in Thrace, instead of achieving the complete
assimilation it has been hoping for. In any case, contemporary human rights standards compel
Greece to radically alter her human rights policy or face the consequences in the international
institutions concerned, assuming that the latter will show the political will they have lacked to
this day. The role of the international NGO’s is therefore crucial to alert these institutions of
the problems as well as to help Greece implement the necessary changes should she opt for
the necessary cooperation. Despite no apparent change in the new, socialist government’s
attitude in the first two years in office, the related views of some of its key ministers publicly
expressed in the past may lead to the expectation of some change.



The Greek foreign ministry had received requests for assistance to the MRG-Greece/Helsinki
Watch/Danish Helsinki Committee mission by the British, Danish and US Embassies in
Athens on behalf of the three NGO’s involved. The mission itself asked the Greek foreign
ministry for a briefing in Athens on the first day; an appointment was arranged with deputy
foreign minister Virginia Tsouderou, which however did not take place as she insisted on
seeing only the Helsinki Watch and the Danish Helsinki Committee members, excluding the
Minority Rights Group representative in Greece, a discriminatory offer refused by the
mission’s members; no other briefing was offered instead. In the first day of the mission’s trip
in the Florina area, security agents followed its members until the MRG-Greece member went
up to them and notified them that the mission was aware of their presence which was denied
by the prefect. On the sixth day, while crossing the border to the Republic of Macedonia at
Niki (near Florina), the passports of the three investigators were taken away from them and
held for twenty minutes by the border police, probably to be photocopied and for telephone
instructions to be given to the policemen; then, the investigators’ car was the only one of the
half a dozen crossing the border at the same time which was searched, indeed thoroughly,
with the policeman looking carefully only at documents and books: in fact, one master’s
thesis at a Danish university carried by the Danish investigator was also taken away to be

On 15 September 1993, the extreme right-wing weekly Stohos published the ‘top secret
report’ of the Greek secret service on that mission, with information on nearly all the
meetings they held, including names of people they met with, times of meetings, car license
numbers, passport numbers of them as well as two other scholars who joined the meetings,
and even the name of one person the MRG-Greece representative telephoned to from his
hotel: the full text may be found in Appendix III.

The Danish investigator, in November 1991, in a similar mission, was prevented from
meeting with Macedonian activists by the police which blocked the entrance of his hotel not
allowing the latter to enter it or the former to leave it: his mission was then aborted. The
MRG-Greece representative, in that capacity, participated in a delegation of Greek
intellectuals who had a meeting with Macedonian counterparts in Ohrid, Macedonia, in March
1993. When the delegation returned to Greece, the border police copied from all passports the
personal data on official entry forms, from which however EEC citizens are exempted: when
they protested, the MRG-Greece member was told by a security officer that they wanted to
check whether any ‘Skopje agents’ were in the delegation. Then, the police also checked
thoroughly the books and documents of all delegation members, illegally seizing one of them,
printed in Skopje. A few weeks later, all the personal information copied by the border police
was published in the extreme right and hyper-nationalist weekly Stohos, well known for its
ties with the Greek secret and service and security police.

In conclusion, it should be mentioned that the new socialist foreign minister was informed of
the above problems and invited to inform MRG-Greece on whether he possibly has a different
attitude on the matter but had not responded by the end of December 1995.







Sad Conclusions from the Sideropoulos Trials

Athens, 10 October 1994. Greek Helsinki Monitor (the Greek National Committee of the
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights) attended as an observer two trials of
Christos Sideropoulos, president of the Macedonian Movement for Human Rights. The first
took place in Florina (5/10/1994) and the second in Athens (7/10/1994). The basic
conclusions which were drawn are the following:

1. The penal prosecution against Christos Sideropoulos for his statements in a 1990 Parallel
Activity of the CSCE meeting in Copenhague was based on a classified document of the
Greek foreign ministry which has not been made available to the defendant: it is therefore
a prosecution based on a secret document and taking place with the full cooperation of the
Greek state (and not as a simple product of an independently functioning judiciary).

2. The defendant's right to have the best possible legal defense is curtailed by the denial of
(his department) Florina's lawyers to undertake his defense as well as by the offense
against Christos Sideropoulos' Athenian lawyer by a judge.

3. The attitude of the great majority of political parties, mass media, bar associations, and
non-governmental organizations which deal with human rights -particularly when
compared to the respective attitude in the case of the prosecution of the five cadres of the
(Greek minority party in Albania) Omonoia- gives the impression that in Greece there are
few consistent defenders of human rights: the great majority of the others invoke them only
when they serve their intentions, whatever they may be, and, for many, are compatible with
their general national(istic) choices.

The Florina trial (5/10/1994)

On 5 October 1994, Christos Sideropoulos was to be tried by the Misdemeanor Court of

Florina for having violated article 191.1 of the Penal Code, charged with ‘disseminating false
information which may cause disruption of the international relations of Greece.’ The charge
has been based on the following extract of an alleged statement to journalists “in a press
conference of ‘Slavomacedonians’ which was a parallel activity to the CSCE meeting in
Copenhague,” according to the indictment:

“I belong to a category of people who are deprived of their rights, even of the right to
their name. I am a Macedonian and I live in Greek Macedonia but I do not have the
right neither to say it, nor to use my language, nor to maintain the customs of my
ancestors in order to transmit them to my descendants. Regardless of the carving up
of the Macedonian people in 1913, they preserved their culture, their identity and
their unity... That is precisely why 50% of the Macedonian population has become
political refugees or immigrants; even when they return to visit their relatives, their
entry is prohibited.”

The court put the trial off for 27 September 1995 due to the absence of the prosecution
witness, that is of the lawyer from Piraeus who filed charges at the district attorney in 1991;
the witness was considered essential by the court.

a. Inadmissible postponement

The postponement itself is considered inadmissible for the following reasons. Firstly, the
witness, by a telegram to the court, before both the first court date of 25/5/1994 (at that time
the trial was postponed due to the lawyers' strike) and the second court date of 5/10/1994,
notified the court not only that he could not be present because of his professional obligations,
but also that he had nothing more to state beyond his initial deposition, which he asked to be
read in court.

Had the court considered him an essential witness, it ought to have at least -after the second
postponement- asked for his forceful summons, since it is obvious that the witness has no
intention of appearing. But nothing like that happened. In addition, the reading of the initial
statement, in which he just brings to the attention of the prosecutor an article in Ethnos
concerning Christos Sideropoulos and two more people and asks for their prosecution for high
treason, combined with his telegram that he has nothing more to add, shows that the witness is
anything but essential.

The one year postponement of the trial in this way, combined with the fact that among the
three people mentioned in the publication, only Christos Sideropoulos is prosecuted,
reinforces his argument that the state wishes to hold him ‘hostage’ by similar procedures and,
hence, to try to neutralize his activity.

b. Refusal by Florina's lawyers to defend Christos Sideropoulos

Christos Sideropoulos reported to Greek Helsinki Monitor that three lawyers from Florina
refused to undertake his legal defense. Greek Helsinki Monitor (which has the names of the
three lawyers at its disposal) has confirmed the denial of one of them. Moreover, the Athenian
lawyer who finally undertook the defense stated to the Greek Helsinki Monitor observer that,
after a conversation with the president of the Bar Association of Florina, she had the
impression that all of its members face with reluctance, if not denial, the undertaking of
Sideropoulos’ defense. The president himself told the Greek Helsinki Monitor observer that
there was no official denunciation of the matter and that, if there were one, he would convene
a General Assembly of the Association to look into it.

c. Prosecution based on a classified document of the Greek foreign ministry

The Greek Helsinki Monitor observer, after having examined the indictment and the
newspaper on which it was based, ascertained that in the latter, neither the holding of a press
conference of Christos Sideropoulos nor -mainly- the statement attributed to him, in quotes, in
the indictment (see above) were mentioned. The extract from the newspaper mentions the
following (presented without any editing):

“As far as the ‘Slavomacedonian minority’ is concerned, Ethnos has learnt the
following: Skopje used three Greeks, among them a civil servant, who ‘confessed’ to
an American embassy cadre, who visited villages of Florina, the oppression which
they allegedly endure from the Greek government. These three Greeks have testified
against Greece at the CSCE which took place in Denmark on 15 June 1990.
According to the Panmacedonian Federation of America, they are Christos
Sideropoulos, Constantine Gotsis and Stavros Anastasiadis.”

First, it should be mentioned that the testimony to a specialized body like the CSCE does not
constitute a public statement and, in consequence, its content cannot even be considered as
dissemination of false information, offense for which the defendant is prosecuted. Secondly,
the comparison between the newspaper's text and the indictment can lead to three

∗ the publication refers to actions of three people whereas the indictment accuses one of

∗ the publication refers to a testimony at the CSCE, and the indictment to a press conference
within the framework of CSCE, and

∗ the alleged statements of Christos Sideropoulos in the indictment are not mentioned in the

Following that, we looked into what led to the divergence between the indictment and the
publication, on which evidently the penal prosecution could not be based. According to a
statement by Christos Sideropoulos, when he went to the prosecutor to plead his defense, he
noticed in the relevant file the existence of a three-page classified document of the Greek
Foreign Ministry, but was refused a copy by the prosecutor, on the grounds that the document
was classified. The defendant’s lawyer said to the Greek Helsinki Monitor observer that after
the examination of the case file she found out that the prosecutor asked the Foreign Ministry
for ‘a text with the press conference of Christos Sideropoulos’ which, however, was not
among the documents of the file she was given to examine.

Hence the conclusion that the prosecution against Christos Sideropoulos was based on a
secret document (a legally inadmissible act) which the foreign ministry eagerly handed over
to the prosecutor evidently in order to facilitate the prosecution against the defendant (a
politically inadmissible act): this Foreign Ministry action belies the official governmental
position that the prosecutions for ‘crimes of opinion’ constitute actions of the independent
judiciary with which the government does not necessarily agree.
The Athens trial (7/10/1994)

On 7 October 1994, the Administrative Appeals Court of Athens held hearings for the appeal
of Christos Sideropoulos against the state, challenging his transfer from Florina to
Cephalonia, which took place after his appearance at the CSCE in 1990 and as an immediate
result of it (as the article of Ethnos confirms). The court’s decision will be issued in the

Offense against Christos Sideropoulos’ lawyer

During the trial the court turned down the motion by Christos Sideropoulos’ lawyer for
postponement, because the Appeals Court’s judge in charge of the case had refused the
examination of the file by the lawyer before the trial: during the relevant exchange of
arguments, the lawyer was verbally assaulted by the judge, who subsequently -after he had
stepped down from the bench and had left the courtroom and in the presence of the Greek
Helsinki Monitor observer- addressed the lawyer with insulting expressions.

After this, Greek Helsinki Monitor calls on the minister of justice and the competent judiciary
authorities to take the appropriate actions in order to sanction the judge's behavior and prevent
any future similar action, which is unfortunately not unique, so as not to give the impression
that in Greece minority citizens as well as their lawyers are treated with prejudice by the

The silence of most political parties, organizations and media

Greek Helsinki Monitor noticed with regret that the political parties (apart from the
Coalition), the mass media (except for Eleftherotypia, Avgi, Epohi, and Prin), the bar
associations and the other non-governmental organizations which deal with human rights
ignored the inadmissible prosecution of Christos Sideropoulos for his opinions. On the
contrary, in the case of the prosecution of the five Omonoia cadres for their political action,
all of the above made their presence most visible by denunciations, monitoring missions, etc.
It is characteristic that the positions of Greek Helsinki Monitor on the trial of the Omonoia
cadres got broad coverage by the Greek media whereas the positions concerning Christos
Sideropoulos’ prosecution got minimum coverage. The comparison between the two cases
gives the impression that, in Greece, there are few consistent defenders of human rights: the
great majority just invokes them only when they serve their intentions, whatever they may be,
and, in many cases, are compatible with their general national(istic) choices.


Conviction Of Orthodox Priest Sets Dangerous Precedent For The Balkans

Athens, 5 December 1994. Greek Helsinki Monitor condemns the double conviction of Father
Nikodimos Tsarknias by Edessa's Single-Member Circuit Court (presided by Vassilios
Tsourdas), on 2 December 1994, as it is a violation of religious freedom and sets a dangerous
precedent of intolerance in the Balkans. It thus calls on the Greek government to see that such
prosecutions stop immediately and to instruct judges to protect defendants, witnesses, and
lawyers from verbal abuses like the ones they took place in Edessa with impunity for the
offenders, among which were even other lawyers.

Father Tsarknias was tried for pretense of authority, under article 176 of the Greek penal
code; more specifically for wearing a uniform of a clergyman of the Eastern Orthodox
Church. After having served for twenty years in the Greek Orthodox Church, Father
Tsarknias was defrocked in early 1993, officially for reasons of discipline, but in reality for
his advocacy for the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece. At that time, he joined the
Macedonian Orthodox Church and became a brother of the monastery ‘St. George the Great
Martyr’ in the village of Kuckovo, Skopje. Since then, he has been relentlessly persecuted for
pretense of authority by the Greek authorities. Even before the recent trial, he had been
convicted ten times to sentences from three to five months, always in abstentia, as the courts
refused to postpone the cases despite his absence for reasons of health or trips abroad. All
convictions were appealed and therefore the only time he has spent in custody was that
following his arrests.

On 2 December 1994, Father Tsarknias was finally able to defend himself for the first time
and presented documents confirming his affiliation with the Macedonian Orthodox Church;
nevertheless, the court decided to ignore them and convicted him to three months in prison,
which he appealed but also had to buy off, as, in this case, the alleged crime was committed in
the court and the sentence was not suspendable. As after the trial Father Tsarknias refused to
promise that he will never wear the frock again, stating that he will have to consult first with
his lawyers and his spiritual counselor, the court decided to prosecute him again immediately
after the first trial. Father Tsarknias was tried in a summary way as he did not participate in
the proceedings and his lawyers resigned in protest against the abusive nature of the second
trial: the court handed him a second three-month sentence which he appealed and bought off
as before; the judge was also willing to continue trying him until he promised not to wear the
frock any more, but the public prosecutor decided to stop the process.

According to the court, the convictions were based on the argument that Father Tsarknias, as
a Greek citizen, cannot invoke his affiliation to a non-Greek church. Greek Helsinki Monitor
considers that this sets a dangerous precedent for the Balkans: until now, the clergymen of the
various Orthodox Churches, including those of the Macedonian Church which is considered
schismatic by the other Orthodox Churches, enjoyed freedom of movement around the region.
Such a precedent may now be invoked by Albanian authorities to expel Greek clergymen who
serve in the Albanian Orthodox Churches; or by Macedonian authorities against either Serb
clergymen who live in that country but adhere to the Serbian Church, or Greek clergymen
who visit or travel through Macedonia and can be arrested on the basis of reciprocity.
Moreover, during the trial, Greek Helsinki Monitor spokesperson was called ‘a traitor' by a
member of the audience while he was making a human rights expert's deposition, while
bystanding Edessa lawyers called Father Tsarknias’ lawyers, one from Athens and one from
Salonica (local lawyers have been refusing to defend him), ‘miasma’ and ‘defenders of a
foreign fatherland’, without the court prosecuting them for disturbance of the procedure: as
one of the defendant’s lawyers stated to the court there were a series of crimes committed
during the trial.

Father Tsarknias faces two more indictments for pretense of authority in the first instance,
besides the by now twelve appeal cases. At the same time, the bishops of the Church of
Greece who have been demoted by the Church or not recognized by the state because of
illegal appointments and continue to wear their frocks and perform religious services are
repeatedly violating articles 175 (assuming without justification the service of a clergyman of
the Greek Orthodox Church) and 176. They have never been arrested or prosecuted; only in
one case did a public prosecutor initiate a procedure of inquest to determine whether such
crimes have been committed. In the case of Father Tsarknias, though, before any court
decision becomes final, the government and the courts have been initiating new procedures
against him, in an obvious effort to force the clergyman to abandon his service.




Dangerous Precedent Of Religious Intolerance Set By Greek Court Decision.

Announcement Of IHF Missions To Study Minority Problems In The Southern Balkans.

Vienna, 10 December 1994. On this International Human Rights Day, the Balkan National
Committees of the International Helsinki Federation from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece,
Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia express their deep concern for the
recent conviction by a Greek court of Father Nikodimos Tsarknias, a citizen and resident of
Greece who is a brother in a monastery belonging to the Macedonian Orthodox Church. The
verdict was based on the argument that a citizen of Greece cannot invoke his affiliation to a
non-Greek church, which has set a dangerous precedent for the Balkans: should such a
principle apply in general, Greek clergymen in Albania or Serb clergymen in Macedonia
could be prosecuted; likewise, there could be pressure in Macedonia to reciprocate and arrest
Greek priests visiting or traveling through that country. So, the Greek court’s decision not
only is an obvious violation of religious freedom but may also create new conflicts in the
region that is already experiencing the consequences of so many other conflicts.

As many of these conflicts are related to minority problems, we have decided to organize fact-
finding missions to investigate the problems of these minorities. So, a joint delegation of the
Bulgarian, Greek, and Macedonian Helsinki Committees will visit the Macedonians in
Greece, the Greeks and Bulgarians in Macedonia, and the Macedonians in Bulgaria; and a
joint delegation of the Albanian, Greek, and Macedonian Helsinki Committees will visit the
Macedonians in Albania, the Albanians in Macedonia, and the Albanian immigrants in
Greece. Already, a joint mission of the Albanian, Bulgarian, and Greek Helsinki Committees
visited the Greeks in Albania in August 1994. Such missions will enable us to produce
impartial reports and suggest appropriate solutions to the parties involved.


Greeks Drop Charges Against Sideropoulos; New Charges Brought Against Macedonian
Minority Party

Vienna, 2 October 1995 On 26-27 September 1995, an IHF mission visited Florina, in
Northwestern Greece, to monitor the trial of Macedonian minority activist Christos
Sideropoulos and investigate the problems of the Macedonian minority, especially the sacking
of the headquarters of the minority party Rainbow. Greek authorities denied an entry visa to a
delegation member from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in the Republic of
Macedonia on grounds that a trial of a Greek citizen does not necessitate the presence of
foreign observers; such an attitude is in direct violation of the OSCE Human Dimension
agreements to which Greece is a signatory. Moreover, the movements of the three remaining
members of the delegation were followed by plainclothes state security agents, as has
happened in previous monitoring missions of IHF national committees. With respect to the
trial itself, the IHF welcomes the court’s decision to drop the charges against Christos
Sideropoulos as inadmissible in accordance with the Greek penal code, an argument that the
IHF and Greek Helsinki Monitor had repeatedly made in the past. Christos Sideropoulos had
been charged for statements he made in the 1990 Copenhagen CSCE meeting about his
Macedonian identity and discriminatory treatment of ethnic Macedonians in Greece. It is now
the responsibility of the Greek authorities to investigate the reason why an inadmissible
procedure was initiated against a Greek citizen and take all necessary steps to compensate

The IHF delegation also visited the offices of the Macedonian minority party Rainbow, which
were set on fire and completely destroyed on 14 September 1995. On the previous day, the
police, on the order of the prosecutor, and later a group of people, led by the city’s mayor,
pulled down signs which read Rainbow - Florina Committee (in both Macedonian and Greek).
The delegation also observed hate speech slogans (‘Out with the Slavs,’ ‘Out with the
Traitors,’ etc.) on many walls near the party’s office, but also in one high school, which were
not erased, unlike other unrelated slogans. Moreover, it gathered evidence that inflammatory
and defamatory public statements by a number of Greek media, as well as the local
mainstream party committees, preceded these violent incidents.

The district’s public prosecutor pressed no charges against anyone for these violent incidents,
but instead pressed charges against the Rainbow leadership for incitement to disturb the peace
through disharmony, through the use of the Macedonian language and the Macedonian name
of the city. There was no condemnation of these events by the government, the country’s
political parties and media - with a few rare exceptions among the latter.

We note the context within which these events took place. In the recent past, the authorities
had refused the necessary accreditation to a Macedonian cultural association (the case is
before the European Commission of Human Rights); refused the return of tens of thousands
of Macedonian political refugees who had fled the country during the civil war (although all
Greek political refugees were allowed back) - these people are also not allowed to visit
Greece even to attend family weddings or funerals; revoked the citizenship of Macedonian
activists who are living abroad and have acquired a second citizenship; disturbed Macedonian
cultural festivals in which Macedonian songs were being sung; harassed and prosecuted
Macedonian activists as well as Greek activists who spoke in favor of the rights of the
Macedonian minority; and slandered Macedonian activists as foreign agents, traitors, etc..
Naturally, in such conditions, there is neither any education of, or in the Macedonian
language, as Greece refuses to treat the mother tongue of the ethnic Macedonians, as well as
the larger group of assimilated or nearly assimilated Macedonian speakers with a Greek
national consciousness, as a language; it is considered to be an idiom, different from the
literary Macedonian language and heavily influenced by the Greek language, and therefore
not appropriate to be taught.

The IHF welcomes the Interim Agreement signed by Greece and Macedonia, and considers it
a major step towards improving relations between the two countries. It is unfortunate,
however, that at the very moment this agreement was being signed in New York, the violent
events against the Rainbow party were taking place. It therefore calls upon the Greek
authorities to honor their signature on international documents, which calls for the recognition
of all minorities and the respect of their rights.



Drop the Charges Against Father Tsarknias

Vienna, 22 December 1995. On 22 November 1995, a three-member IHF mission visited

Edessa, in Northwestern Greece, to monitor the four trials of Macedonian minority activist
Father Nikodimos Tsarknias held that day.

The IHF welcomes the court's decision to postpone the four trials of Father Tsarknias for 8
May 1996, and calls now for the dismissal of all charges. The court decided to postpone the
trials after it heard extensive testimony from Greek Helsinki Monitor's Spokesperson
Panayote Elias Dimitras on why these cases raised serious and complicated questions of
freedom of religion and interstate relations between Greece and Macedonia; the postponement
was granted in order to call on an expert of ecclesiastical law to advise the court on these

Father Tsarknias was convicted on 2 December 1994 for “pretense of authority” for wearing
the frock of an Orthodox priest although the Church of Greece had defrocked him in early
1993. The court discarded the certificate of the Orthodox Church of Macedonia that Father
Tsarknias had in the meantime joined that Church, arguing that, in Greece, only the Church of
Greece can accredit clergymen. Father Tsarknias has accumulated a dozen similar
convictions, most in abstentia.

To the surprise of Father Tsarknias' defense and of the IHF's monitors, the written version of
the 2 December 1994 verdict that was being appealed on 22 November 1995, included a very
different explanation of the verdict. In that, the court recognized the existence of a self-
administered schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church, which shares the same dogmatic
principles with the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. On the basis of that “unity of faith” the
court argued, the acquisition of the quality of clergyman is regulated by the same rules in all
churches. Hence, as in the Church of Greece, a defrocked clergyman needs the permission of
the Church which sanctioned him to re-acquire that quality. Father Tsarknias, the Court
argued, needed such authorization to join the Macedonian Church.

As IHF’s representatives testified, however, a secular court in Greece cannot apply the rules
regulating the affairs of the Church of Greece, which are also Greek state laws because of the
non-separation of Church and State in Greece, on the functions of the Macedonian Church:
the latter has its own rules that are unknown to the Greek court and, moreover, these rules do
not even have legal value in Macedonia, in which - like in all post-communist states - there
exists separation between Church and State. A Greek court cannot, therefore, apply the laws
of the Greek Church to a member of another, in fact non-Greek, Church and should satisfy
itself with the Macedonian Church's affirmation that Father Tsarknias is a legitimate

In fact, as was testified in court, the Greek state and court system tolerates within Greece the
wearing of the Orthodox frock of clergymen of two Eastern-rite Churches that the Church of
Greece has never recognized: the Old Calendarists and the Greek Catholics (Uniates).
Finally, the court was reminded that the European Commission and Court of Human Rights
have in recent years with decisions and recommendations repeatedly stipulated that the
application in Greece of the rules of the official Church of Greece on other Churches
(schismatic Orthodox, non-Orthodox, even non-Christian) is incompatible with Article 9 on
religious freedom and inappropriate for a democratic country.

In a related matter, the IHF deplores that, as it is mentioned in the minutes of the 2 December
1994 trial, the court failed to prosecute the member of the audience who insulted the GHM’s
spokesperson while he was giving testimony, calling him a “traitor”. Although P. E. Dimitras
asked the court to press charges against that person, and the court should have tried him
immediately (applying the “flagrant délit” procedure called for by the Greek law), the person
was sent to a hospital and the court had written in the minutes that “no charges were pressed
as the person offended did not press charges”, which was obviously inaccurate.

The IHF therefore calls on the Greek authorities to drop all charges against Father Tsarknias,
to investigate the matter and take appropriate action for the blatant falsification of the trial's
transcript, and to take disciplinary action against all those responsible for the non-prosecution
of the alleged offender in court.





Minute by minute the moves of the traitors who want to infect Northern Greece

Twice - during a ‘visit’ of janissaries in the Florina district - their leader Dimitras
spoke on the phone with the “new political man” Tsolakoglou [at the time one of the
closest associates of Mr. Samaras, President of Political Spring], who called him at
the hotel ‘Alexander the Great’ where the gang lived. This relation confirms Stohos
who has repeatedly said that the janissaries play the games of our own politicians (and
not only Gligorov’s) who use them to ‘hurt’ mainly their opponents. Besides the two
long phone calls Tsolakoglou-Dimitras, the visit had many more interesting things (in
persons and situations) which are very clearly reflected in the following ‘top secret’
document of a Special Service, which says:

1. At 1:30 am of 20/7/1993 arrived in the hotel ‘King Alexander’ in Florina in a white

private car, make Renault Clio, license number BE 5752, the following:
a. DIMITRAS Panayote of Elias and Angeliki, born in 1953, in Athens, resident
likewise (82 Constantinople St.), professor.
b. WHITMAN LOIS QUICK, born in 1926, in New Jersey - USA, American
citizen, passport number 061160753, journalist.
c. SIESLEY ERIE OSEAR, born in 1921, in Copenhagen, Danish citizen,
passport number 15699138, journalist.

2. The above at 14:00 of 20/7/1993 met at the hotel they were staying at with the
‘well-known’ VOSKOPOULOS Pavlos and then paid a visit to the prefect of
Florina. After they left the prefecture they went to a fashionable tavern in the city
for lunch until 17:00.
- At 18:00 they met at the hotel with SMYRNIOU-PAPATHANASIOU Vio-letta,
resident of Salonica, President of the Monastiriotes, who sought that meeting and
with the various questions she asked them made it difficult for them to answer.
Their discussion dealt mainly with the alleged ‘Macedonian’ minority in the
Florina area.
- At 21:00 of the same day, they paid a visit to the village of Meliti and attended
the festival that took place, celebrating the local religious feast of Prophet Elias.
- During the festival DIMITRAS Panayote met with the ‘well-known’
SIDEROPOULOS Christos, and had with him a warm discussion, and also met
with other people who lean towards the ‘well-known’ space. In Meliti they stayed
until 3:00 am of 21/7/1993.

3. At 10:30 of 21/7/93 they met in the hotel’s cafe with the ‘well-known’ GOTSIS
Konstantinos, SIEKRIS George, VOSKOPOULOS Paul, DIMTSIS Peter,
KLIGATSIS Pantelis of George and Fani, born in 1955, in Ammohori-Florinas,
doctor at the AHEPA Hospital in Thessaloniki and two other persons who are
unknown to our Service.
- At 14:00 the ‘well-known’ SIDERO-POULOS Christos visited them. In a discussion
among SIDEROPOULOS, DIMITRAS, the Dane, and the American woman,
DIMITRAS, addressing the American, said in English that ‘they are afraid and do
not undertake any activity or any other action and other movements because they
do not want to provoke the intervention of the Public Prosecutor.’
- At 18:30 of the same day they went to Meliti-Florina and visited the Town Hall.
At the Town Hall, they were welcomed by TSOTSKOS Michael, President of the
village, SIDERIS Vasilios of Alexander and Agapi, born in 1964, in Meliti,
resident of Germany, and the ‘well-known’ MISALIS George.
- At the Town Hall of Meliti the three visitors were accompanied by:
a. KARAKASIDOU Anastasia of Nikolaos, born in 1955, Thessaloniki, and
resident there (Vlahernon 19, Kalamaria), and
b. GREGORI ANTONI HOUP, born in 1962, passport number 643574, who is the
husband of KARAKASIDOU Anastasia.
- The above mentioned persons drove a white private ZASTAVA car, license
number 6583, owned by KARAKA-SIDOU Anastasia.
- At the Town Hall of Meliti the above mentioned persons stayed until about 21:30.

4. At 10:00 of 22/7/93 they visited the City Hall of Florina where the Mayor
welcomed them. During their discussion, the Mayor said among other things that:
“I come from Vevi of Florina and can speak the local idiom. Until 1975, they
called us Bulgarians and now you call us Slavomacedonians. Our grandfathers
were Greek, weren’t they?”.

In their answer to the Mayor of Florina, the three visitors said: “The President of
the village of Meliti told us different things”.

5. At 10:30 of 23/7/93 they departed for the Pella district, and returned to the hotel at
1:20 of 24/7/93. At the hotel, GOTSIS Konstantinos waited for them and they
discussed for some 10 minutes.

6. At 14:00 of 24/7/93 they departed for Prespes, accompanied by the private car with
license number 6583.
- At 22:00, ‘well-known’ professors DIMTSIS Peter and SKENDERIS Stefanos,
waited for them at the hotel, where the owner of the hotel PAVLIS Vasilios
assailed them with comments for their attitude and blamed them for their general
anti-Greek behavior.

7. At 12:30 of 25/7/93 both cars left our country towards the Republic of Skopje,
through the Niki border crossing of Florina’s district. DIMITRAS, the American
woman, the Dane, KARAKA-SIDOU and GREGORI ANTONI HOUP were in the
- The reason of their visit was to attend the festivities that were taking place in
Tirnavo on 25/7/93, 4 km away from Monastir, and were organized by the
‘Association of Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia’.
- During the search of the car with the journalists by Police Officers of Niki, the
latter found a book with the title ‘ETHNIC RIVALRY AND THE QUEST FOR
MACEDONIA 1870-1913’ whose pages from the beginning, the middle and the
end are submitted in photocopies with a translation in Greek of its preface.

- At the passport control of Ketzetlegi (across from Niki) MISALIS George waited
them, to inform them on the prohibition of his entrance in Greece (YF 3/307944).
- At 18:55 they returned to our country on both cars through Niki, except for
- The above mentioned persons were accompanied by GOTSIS Konstantinos,
DIMTSIS Peter, KLIGATSIS Pantelis in the central square of Florina.

8. At 11:00 of 26/7/93 DIMITRAS Panay-ote and the Danish journalist left Florina
on the private car with license number YBE 5752 towards Athens.

Learn the enemies of our nation and do not forgive them.

God forgives. Greece never does!