SPEACH of OMO Ilinden - PIRIN representative Alexander Spasov on EFA general asambly about discrimination of the Macedonian minorities in Bulgaria and Greece

24 April, 2018

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Aleksandar Spasov Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear EFA-Delegates,

I thank EFA for the courageous support given to the Macedonians in Bulgaria and Greece for years and now to be able to present to you, the EFA delegates the dramatic situation of the Macedonians in those EU member states - BG and GR. We thank especially Lorena and colleagues for visiting the Macedonian Minority in Bulgaria in February this year.

The Macedonian minorities, living as indigenous populations in Greece and Bulgaria continue to face discrimination and even negation of their existence by the two mentioned countries - BG and GR. They are target of constant hate speech mainly through media inciting further prejudicial action against Macedonians for example: the self-determination as a Macedonian is viewed as national treachery against Bulgaria and thus, Macedonians are considered enemies of the state they live in i.e. Bulgaria.

None of rights from Framework convention is not given to Macedonians, on contrary they are object of planed and decades ongoing assimilation. As a consequence of assimilation, discrimination, and constant pressure the number of Macedonians dropped from 187 000 in the 40ties and 50ties to some 1600 in the 2011 census in Bulgaria. Greece does not even mention Macedonians in their census.

Although Bulgaria lost 11 cases at the European Court for Human rights because it violates the rights of the Macedonians, Bulgaria did not registered even one Macedonian Organization including OMO Ilinden Pirin.

The Bulgarian government ignores steadily all suggestions from national or international organizations including UN, the Commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe and so on to improving the rights of the Macedonians.

Sadly, institutions in Bulgaria and Greece aiming at protecting their citizen against discrimination on an ethnical basis are the source of discrimination against Macedonians itself and are disguising this discrimination.

10 years after Bulgaria became EU member the Macedonian minority status has not improved. It is a disgrace that the country member of the EU and acting as President of the EU in that very moment, at present is discriminating minorities on its territory.

It is a shame that the EU is tolerating that two of her member states discriminate people just because they are what they are, Macedonians.

The EU inaction on this issue, past and present, encourages Bulgaria and Greece's policy of negating the existence of the Macedonian minority to be elevated to international level. Those countries misuse their position as EU members to block the EU-membership of the Republic of Macedonian.

BG and GR demand that R. of Macedonia has to renounce its constitutional protection of the Macedonian minorities in those countries and even negate the foundations of Macedonian national identity as the name, history and language. A dramatically example is Bulgaria's recent statement: "Macedonia in Europe? - yes, the Macedonian Identity - not!"

The politics of discrimination and non-recognition of Macedonians in Bulgaria and Greece are probably the last totalitarian policies in the European Union - the former has its origin in the communist regime during the Cold War and the reign of Todor Zhivkov, the latter in the pro-fashist regimes in post-world-war II Greece.

Therefore, we demand that the Minority save pack initiative undersigned by at least 1 billion people should be realized in practice so people may feel the difference, may feel they are heard and may begin to trust more in the project Europe.

We demand further, that the tactics of "there is no conflict - there is no problem" should be stopped. We should prevent conflict between ethnical groups before conflicts arise.

We believe that relations between nations living in a common country as well as relations between countries should be built on justice, equality and mutual respect.

We strongly hope that EFA will further raise his voice for the forgotten and discriminated minorities of Europe.

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