OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER SIMITIS
August 28, 1999
You can read a copy of the letter in [Greek] or [Macedonian]
Florina - Lerin 28-08-1999
The Honourable Mr. Simitis:
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece, we would like to express our views on the question of the unequal treatment of citizens in our country, based on their linguistic, cultural and ethnic heritage.
If it is difficult to refer to questions that are "taboo," such as the issue of differences in the ethnic identity of the citizens of our country, how, then, can one even mention the national mythology, which imposes ethnic homogeneity and is the core element of our national unity? Mr. Simitis, we are sure you would agree that the modernization of Greek society would bring different views and perceptions on many issues as well as respect for the human rights of our citizens. This is proscribed as part of our integration in a united Europe as well as by the "post national" model of social organisation, which we believe will prevail.
We already speak of a Europe of citizens and we must believe that Balkan societies that strive toward a European perspective should overcome, as much as possible and as painlessly, the "childhood diseases" of national emancipation, and follow the example of Western societies. We, the ethnic Macedonians, citizens of Greece, given that a sovereign Macedonian state is a reality, understand that we must make the first historic step and move more quickly than the other Balkan peoples away from the syndrome of "nationalism" and help, as active citizens, the societies to which we belong. But, all this is predicated on the recognition and respect, by the Greek state, of our distinct Macedonian ethnic identity.
We verge on the dawn of the 21st century, and the state needs to recognize the existence of the Macedonian and Turkish minorities because they are a reality.
Furthermore, it is time to allow, at long last, and without any conditions, the repatriation of the ethnic Macedonian political refugees who were compelled to leave Greece during the Greek Civil War and to grant them the same rights and conditions of restoration as are in force for the ethnic Greek political refugees. As a start, the first step should be the restoration of their citizenship.
To ratify the Framework Convention on the Rights of National Minorities without any restrictions or exceptions.
To recognize the Macedonian language as a minority language in Greece and to include it in the elementary and secondary education system in those regions where it is in use. At the same time to create a department for the Macedonian language at the university level.
We think it is time to get rid of the prejudices and "phobias" of the past. The conditions are ripe to start a productive dialogue on these questions, which affect ethnic Macedonians and all the other people with ethnic, linguistic and cultural differences who live in this country.