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"SMALL STEPS" FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE MACEDONIANS IN GREECE.
"It is my impression that the Greek party applies policy of small steps in order not to make radical changes. I do not think that the Government of Simitis can allow itself to recognize the Macedonian minority. That would be a suicide for it," Christian Foss, Ph-D in Philosophy from the University in Frieburg - Germany says in an interview for Deutsche Welle.
There is a certain liberalization in Greece, some of the demands of "Vinozito" have been accepted, he adds. In that context, the first radio station with program on Macedonian language will be soon opened in Lerin, but the official recognition of the minority will have to wait.
"I am personally glad due to two things: the awareness that the Macedonians have for themselves, which is on a high level even besides the repression. In the region of Lerin and Voden, I met two-year old and three-year old children who knew excellently the both languages, which proves that the Macedonian language is very much alive there. Furthermore, the young people continue setting demands for recognition of the Macedonian language.
Second, with the removal of the "Iron curtain" Greece lost its geo-strategic significance for the USA, so they will not be allowed any more compromises when it comes to the minorities. On the other hand, the continuous connections between Greece and the EU will force it to implement European standards regarding the rights of the minorities," Foss said.
Main topic in your scientific research is the situation with the Macedonian minority in northern Greece. What kind of rights do the Macedonians living in Greece have?
It cannot be discussed at all about enjoying of any rights. Regarding the minimum rights they have, the Macedonians had to input enormous efforts and these rights come as a result of their own political initiative.
Greece is not the only European or Balkan country where minority rights are science fiction. That is the overall European policy, which started right after the French Revolution, for establishment of a nationally homogeneous state, and which is applied in a fatal manner in the Balkans. We, the Germans, had national-free zone in 2000 and that was a zone with "no frontiers" in 1991. So, we can see that this idea for ethnic-nationalistic pureness is not an invention of Greece and the Balkans, but a product of Western Europe.
The most important right is the right to usage of the native language. In Greecxe, the use of the Slavic i.e. of the Macedonian language was prohibited by law in the 20'es, and in the 30's, during the dictatorship of Metaxas, this law was applied in a most brutal manner. In the 90's, this state terror started breaking lose slowly, and I've seen it with my own eyes that people in Lerin use their language with no fear.
The second very important aspect is the free use of folk songs, dances and folklore in general. This has been prohibited for decades and the Greek intellectuals made efforts to Hellenize these folklore: new texts of the songs written in Greek were introduced, all in order to prove that Hellenic Macedonia was always Greek. Today, the tradition of Slavic, i.e. Macedonian folklore starts living again.
Mr. Foss, which ethnic groups are recognized as minorities in Greece and what does the therm "minority" mean according to the Greek constitution?
There are five minority groups in Greece: the Wallachs and Avantitis, who are actually Albanophones, but were assimilated and it is very difficult to find them today. The third group is the Roma minority, and the politically most interesting are the Macedonians, i.e. the Slavophons in Aegean Macedonia and the great group of Muslims who live in Trakia. The Slavophonic Muslims, so-called Pomacs, enjoy minority rights, such as education in their native language.
KERIM: THE INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT TO MACEDONIA CONFIRMED IN ITALY.
The talks I realized in Italy confirmed once again the support that international community gives to Macedonia, Macedonian Minister of Foreign Affairs said at today's press conference, held in Rome after his two-day visit to Italy.
He expressed great satisfaction from the meetings and talks he realized with the Italian Minister of foreign affairs Lamberto Dimi, Secretary General in the Italian Foreign Ministry Umberto Vatani, Undersecretary in the ministry Umberto Ranieri, as well as with the Secretary for foreign relations of the Holy Seat, Archbishop Jean Louis Torran.
Minister Kerim estimated as very dangerous the attempt for putting Macedonia and Kosovo into connection, by which Kosovo will become a source of instability in the region. The use of combined political, diplomatic and military means by the Macedonian Government proved to be successful and prevented the extremists from taking over the legitimacy of the Albanians in Macedonia.
What the international community will have to do now, Minister Kerim said, is to clean out the traces left by the extremists, i.e. the great amount of weaponry, smuggled in Macedonia from Kosovo and Albania.
The next most important thing for Macedonia is the signing of the Association and Stabilization Agreement with the EU, on April 9th in Luxemburg, he stated.
There Is Place For Everyone In Bulgaria.
Simeon II address to the citizens of Botevgrad
In these few words I would like only to express my tremendous gratitude for this welcome meeting, for the goodness which brought you here, for the feelings and for the support. As I already said in my statement the other day your affection, your trust are the things that give me strength in the endeavor that we decided to undertake. Bulgaria is in need of joint efforts, of good feelings so that we can find the many points of contact between all of us. To look forward, to hope and work together for this Bulgaria which deserves much more and for this people which really deserves that much, because it is a high-grade, because it is capable, because it is a strong people. And I think that the thing which will help us most in these days we are facing is not to look back only. To forget. To think that we are all Bulgarians and that's what unites us, and not get separated. Let everyone hold out his hand to another, let everyone think over the things he can forgive another and this, to my mind, will help us to achieve much more. Because it is a positive energy. And let us all not forget that there is one Bulgaria, that Bulgaria belongs to all, that there is place for everyone in this Bulgaria, and most of all in Bulgaria which I would like to see, and very soon. Let me once again tell you how moved we were, the Queen and I, by your welcome meeting, your trust and goodness you showed to us. Let God bless you all! And God grant we meet again soon.
800-Day Term Expires on the Death Anniversary of Boris III.
Simeon II devoted his program to his father King Boris III. "I'm ready to come out with a scheme of economic measures and social and economic partnership through which, as early as 800 days, proverbial diligence and entrepreneurship of Bulgarians will change your life," said on Friday Simeon II in his announcement. The 800-day term H. M. requested for, expires on August 28, 2003 as of the day of announcing the election results. The results are to be announced no later than 3 days after the election, reads art. 15 of the Law on General Elections which was adopted last Thursday. The 60 anniversary of the death of King Boris III expires on August 28, 2003.