Press Release


(Greek National Committee of the International Helsinki Federation)

(Greek Affiliate of Minority Rights Group International)

P.O. Box 51393, GR-14510 Kifisia, Greece Tel. 30-1-620.01.20; Fax: 30-1-807.57.67; E-mail:




Skopje, 9 February 1997. The undersigned non-governmental organizations from the Republic of Greece and the Republic of Macedonia met in Skopje on 8 & 9 February 1997 to discuss the problems of the refugees who were forced to leave Greece in the 1940s and have been denied since the right to return or even simply visit their homeland. After fruitful discussions we have reached the following conclusions:

  1. The discriminatory provision of the 1982 law which excluded from the right of return all non-ethnic Greek refugees is unacceptable by any human rights standards and should be abolished. Consequently, all those who were forced to leave Greece in the 1940s should be treated equally regardless of ethnic origin, with respect to the right to permanent repatriation or temporary visit(s), while related property issues need be dealt with in ways similar to the ones applied to those who have already benefited from the 1982 law and the subsequent other legislation.

  2. The Greek sate should stop using articles of the citizenship code to deprive non-ethnic Greek citizens of their citizenship and then bar them from entering the country. Likewise, it is unacceptable that children of such refugees are also prevented from visiting Greece, as if they bear some “collective responsibility” for whichever alleged crimes of their parents. Finally, all those who have lost their citizenship with such procedures should be allowed to appeal against them.

  3. It is important to understand that these refugees from Greece are indeed, as the law states, of “non-Greek origin”. They identify themselves as Macedonians, just like many current citizens of Greece today. However, their desire to return in Greece should in no way be interpreted as harboring any irredentist demands on Greek territory. Ethnic Macedonians from Greece, whether they live in the country or claim their right to return there, believe that these demands should be put foreword, and their rights exercised, on the basis of principles such as explicit acceptance of internationally recognized state frontiers and other established norms of international law and practice. Moreover, it should be mentioned that the term “Aegean Macedonians” used by some organizations of ethnic Macedonians whose place of origin is in the territory of the Republic of Greece, is a simple, traditional, geographical, descriptive form that should in no way be interpreted as harboring irredentist visions.

In conclusion, the undersigned organizations are determined to cooperate closely to further these demands with the Greek state but also to help inform Greek public opinion. They also remind that Greece is a signatory of a considerable number of international human rights documents which call for not only the full repeat of minority rights but also the adoption of affirmative action policies that will enhance minority cultures as a necessary ingredient of successful multicultural societies.

Association for Protection of the Human Rights-Radovish
Association of the Expelled Macedonians “Aegean”
Association of the Macedonians from the Aegean part of Macedonia-Bitola
Association of the Refugee Children-republic of Macedonia
Forum for Human Rights of the Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia
Greek Helsinki Monitor
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of Republic of Macedonia
Minority Rights Group - Greece
Organization of the Macedonian Descendants from the Aegean Part of Macedonia-Bitola
SOS Racisme-Greece



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