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Declaration
Adopted at the Conference 'The Situation of the National Minorities in the Balkan countries' November 30, 1997, Popova Shapka, Tetovo, Macedonia

 

I. Following the initiative of the Society of the Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia, with its seat in Bitola - Association of banished Macedonians from the Republic of Greece, a Conference was held on the topic: 'The Situation of the National Minorities in the Balkan countries.'

II. At the Conference, representatives from the following organizations were present:

Republic of Albania:

- The Society of the Armni (sic) (Vlachs) from the Republic of Albania,
- The Political Society of the Macedonians from Republic of Albania 'Mir' ('Peace') - Tirana,
- The Social-Political Society 'Prespa' - organization for protecting the rights of the Macedonians in the Republic of Albania,
- The Society of the Egyptians in the Republic of Albania 'Nefreta' - Tirana

Republic of Bulgaria:

-OMO 'Ilinden' - Democratic Movement - organization for protecting the rights of the Macedonians from the Pirin part of Macedonia - Republic of Bulgaria

Republic of Greece:

-'Vinozhito' ('Rainbow') -European Movement - organization of the Macedonian ethnic minority in the Republic of Greece,

-The Scientific Society of Western Thrace - organization of the Turkish national minority in Western Thrace, Republic of Greece

Republic of Macedonia:

-The Society of the Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia, with its seat in Bitola, having also 10 equal branches in cities of Republic of Macedonia
-The League of the Vlachs from the Republic of Macedonia,
-The Association of the Rhoma - Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia,
-The Association of the Serbs, the Montenegrans and Macedonians - Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia,
-The Association of the Boshnyaks (Bosnians) in the Republic of Macedonia

III. At the Conference, representatives of other non-political associations of the following national minorities were also invited: the Greek national minority from the Republic of Albania, the Turkish national minority from the Republic of Bulgaria, the Vlach national minority from the Republic of Greece, the Albanian national minority and the Turkish national minority from the Republic of Macedonia, and the Macedonian national minority from FR Yugoslavia.

The participants deplore the absence ot the aforementioned at such a Conference of the minorities from the Balkans. Their very presence would have enriched this Conference.

Also representatives of various international organizations, - that have their offices in the Republic of Macedonia, were invited:

- The UN -Center for Human Rights - Skopje,
- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - Skopje,
- The UNPREDEP - Skopje,
- The UN High Commissioner for Refugees - Skopje,
- The UNICEF - Skopje,
- The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - Skopje,

and the following foreign Embassies in the Republic of Macedonia:

- Italy, France, Germany, USA, Bulgaria, Russia, the Liaison Office of the Republic of Greece, Albania, FR Yugoslavia, Great Britain and Turkey.

IV. Representatives of all present national minorities actively participated in the work of the Conference, whereby the situation of their minority rights were presented in a very illustrative way, as well as their different status in these four Balkan countries. Hence, the following Conclusions were presented by the representatives of the national minorities:

The Society of the Armni (Vlachs) in the Republic of Albania:

1. There is no assistance, in the State programs, for developing the identity and the culture of the Vlachs in Albania.

2. There are discrimination and prejudice against the Vlachs in their appointment and involvement in the State administration. A flagrant case is the one with the Deputy-Minister, proposed for appointment at this office, and this candidate was the only one to be refused by the Government of the Republic of Albania

3. A racist propaganda against the Vlachs still continues in various newspapers in the Republic of Albania. Here should be mentioned the article the newspaper 'Albania', by H. Feraj, in September 1997.

4. Some Embassies of the Balkan countries, located in Tirana, hamper the free movement of the members of the Vlach societies for cultural cooperation with similar societies in other Balkan countries.

5. We demand that material assistance be provided for in the State programs for the development of the culture and the identity of the Vlachs in Albania.

6. We demand that no discrimination be used by the State bodies against the Vlach and that they have possibilities for their involvement in the State institutions.

7. We demand that no racist propaganda be used against the Vlachs in the Republic of Albania.

8. We demand that free movement of individuals and of societies for cultural activities be made possible among the Balkan countries.

The Societies of the Macedonians in the Republic of Albania:

1. The Albanian authorities recognize as Macedonian minority only that part of the Macedonians that live in Mala Prespa. The Macedonians from the regions in Gora, Golo Brdo, and in the interior of the Republic of Albania, are not recognized as Macedonians. Their national identity has been denied to them by administrative measures.

2. The Macedonian minority in the Republic of Albania is subject to cultural, ethnic, and language discrimination.

3. The Macedonian minority has been persecuted and prosecuted for its national feelings.

4. The Macedonian minority is prevented from taking part in the administrative, political and legislative life of the Republic of Albania.

5. We demand engagement by the Albanian state for recognizing the Macedonian identity of the minority that lives in the regions of Gora, Golo Brdo in the interior of the Republic of Albania.

6. We demand the creation of real conditions for education in the mother, Macedonian language for the Macedonians in Gora, Golo Brdo and throughout the Republic of Albania, wherever there are conditions for education in the mother tongue. Education in the Macedonian language in the region of Prespa should be at the level of secondary schools.

7. We demand that there be no persecution and prosecution because of the national feelings of the Macedonian minority. We demand the creation of conditions for preservation and development of the cultural and national heritage of the Macedonian minority in the Republic of Albania.

8. We demand that the State be engaged in the economic plural development in the regions inhabited by the Macedonian minority.

9. We demand the opening of new border crossings between the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Macedonia in the regions of Gora and Golo Brdo.

10. We demand the creation of an institutions for inter-ethnic relations in the Republic of Albania where problems on the relation national minorities - the State would be institutionalized.

11. We demand the creation of legal and legislative space tor participation of the Macedonian minority in the political and legislative life of the Republic of Albania. We demand financing of the activities of the organizations of the Societies by the State budget.

The Society of the Egyptians from the Republic of Albania:

1. They have been forgotten-by the Albanian State.

2. The Egyptian minority from the Republic of Albania is wrongly identified with the members of the Rhoma community.

3. A racist discrimination is carried out by the mass media.

4. The Egyptians in the Republic of Albania are not equal in employment, scholarships, education, and so on.

5. They are maltreated by the police authorities without any particular reason.

6. We demand efficient implementation of the laws and international norms with regard to the human and minority rights for the Egyptians in the Republic of Albania, as it is the case with all other citizens in the Republic of Albania.

7. We demand that the discrimination by the mass media be stopped.

8. We demand to be allowed to use the media so that we can manifest our cultural, historical and folklore traditions of the Egyptians and to secure funds for their realization.

9. We demand the creation of legal and administrative measures for integration of the Egyptians in the life of the Republic of Albania, as all other citizens of this country.

OMO 'Ilinden' - "Democratic Movement- Organization of the Macedonians in the Pirin Part of Macedonia in the Republic of Bulgaria".

1. Regardless of the democratic changes in the Republic of Bulgaria, nothing has been changed regarding the national minorities. Bulgaria still considers itself to be a one nation state. It neither recognizes the Macedonian nation and language in the Republic of Macedonia, nor the Macedonian minority in the Republic of Bulgaria. The Macedonians are not permitted to be educated in their Macedonian language, to establish associations on national basis, meetings, and access to the electronic media and the press.

2. We demand that Republic of Bulgaria stop its assimilation of the Macedonian minority and recognize it as a national minority in the Republic of Bulgaria. We demand that Macedonians in the Republic of Bulgaria be given the right to education in their mother tongue, associating on national basis and participating in the political life, as well as access to the media.

3. We demand that the material and economic situation of the Pirin part of Macedonia in the Republic of Bulgaria be improved.

4. We demand free celebration of the Macedonia national holidays and honoring of the Macedonian national heroes.

Organizations of National Minorities from the Republic of Greece:

The existence of national minorities is not recognized in the Republic of Greece. The Turkish national minority is recognized only as religious minority, while the Macedonian national minority is not recognized as an existing entity. Although national minorities are not recognized, their members are persecuted on national minority basis. The Turkish national minority is excluded from all fields of human activity. A policy of economic suffocation is maintained, legislative measures are introduced for discrimination, the religious autonomy is under control, there is retrogression concerning the rights to education in the mother tongue.

A policy of brutal assimilation of the Macedonian ethnic minority is under way by legislative measures and court prosecutions. The public use of the Macedonian language and alphabet is prohibited, as well as their use in the educational system.

Court prosecutions are undertaken against the members of the two national minorities, concerning activities in connection with the manifestation and protection of the national and cultural identity.

The State allows, sometimes even encourages the mass media, the Church authorities and the para-state institutions to be against the members of the national minorities in order to terrorize and politically discredit them.

In addition to the aforementioned measures, ethnic cleansing of the two minorities is done in perfidious manner, by taking away the citizenship in a way provided for by the articles 19 and 20 of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Greece.

The repatriation of the Macedonian political refugees is prohibited.

Selective immigration is done in the regions of Western Thrace and Macedonia in order to create a new wave of hate towards the national minorities.

We demand the indispensable recognition of the two national minorities, the abolition of all aforementioned measures by which discrimination is done, and the stopping of all court prosecutions. We demand the introduction of measures whereby the consequences of the executed policy against the national minorities be removed, in accordance with the international norms and the European Framework Convention for the Rights of the National Minorities.

The Situation of the Armni (Ylachs) in the Republic of Macedonia:

1. The individual rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the education laws, which treat equally all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia.

2. There are programs on the State TV, two times a week with 30 minutes per -program; with the possibility and intention of their extension.

3. On the State Radio there are everyday programs of 30 minutes. With regard to the fact that the programs are broadcast on the frequency of the Third Radio Channel, they cannot cover the entire territory of the Republic of Macedonia. It is necessary to expand the program and to create conditions for its broadcasting all over the State.

4. It is necessary to pass legal provisions whereby one Member of Parliament would be elected upon proposal by the League of the Vlachs from the Republic of Macedonia.

5. We demand that the Council on Inter-ethnic Relations of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia finally begin its work as it should.

6. We demand that complete conditions be allowed for performing optional education and for securing the necessary educational means and literature in the Vlach language.

The Situation of Macedonians-Citizens of the Republic of Macedonia - banished from the Republic of Greece:

As banished citizens, we are discriminated, our citizenship has been taken away, our property has been confiscated and given to settlers-new comers, and our free entry into Greece has been prohibited.

The Association demands:

1. The recognition of the status of political refugees for the Macedonians banished from the Republic of Greece during the 1945-1949 period, and later.

2. Free entry into Greece without prior conditions.

3. The recognition as legal subject of every person and the acceptance of his/her passport with all the personal information contained in it, issued by the country of his/her present residence.

4. Free return-repatriation to the houses of their ancestors, possession and management of the properties of their fathers.

5. Our repatriation to be exclusively as ethnic Macedonians because we cannot be of other nationality, with the right to use the Macedonian language, to open Macedonian schools and Macedonian Orthodox churches where the service will be performed in the Macedonian language, the right to radio and TV programs in Macedonian language, the right to the press- newspapers and other magazines also in the Maced6nian language.

6. The Council of Europe to send its observers at the border crossings between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece so that they may get informed with the visa and passport system that is applied for the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, originating from the Aegean part of Macedonia in the Republic of Greece.

7. The UN, the Council of Europe and the OSCE to request from the Republic of Greece to respect and implement completely the signed Interim Accord between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece, as well as al conventions on human rights and freedoms.

8. The Republic of Greece to return the original names of the people and the toponyms of our villages, towns, mountains, rivers and lakes because they were changed by the 1926 Decree from the Macedonian into the Greek language.

9. The European Union to use its influence in those sates, that do not recognize national minorities in accordance with international conventions.

10. The Republic of Greece should be stopped with regard to the colonization that is under way in the Aegean part of Macedonia, settling population from other parts of Greece and from Euro-Asiatic region, in order to change the ethnic composition of the population.

V. Due to the absence of the following representatives of the national minorities from the Republic of Macedonia during the very adoption of the Declaration: the Association of the Roma, the Association of the Serbs, the Montenegrins and Macedonians, and the Association of the Boshnyaks (Bosnians) from the Republic of Macedonia (who participated actively in the work of the Conference), the aforementioned representatives. were not included in the Declaration itself. A possibility has been left for making additional consultations with the said participants and to present their proposals to all other participants in the Conference, in order to come to an agreement that such proposals are made part of this Declaration in the form of an Annex.

VI. The state borders among the Balkan countries are inviolable and are guaranteed. We accept this Balkan reality, thereby proposing liberalization of the visa and passport regime facilitating the traveling form one Balkan state to another.

VII. It is joint assessment that the very status of national minorities, enjoyed by the national minorities in the Republic of Macedonia, should be an example for other Balkan states concerning the way for solving the minority issue in their own territory.

VIII. The Republic of Albania only partially fulfills its obligations towards the national minorities on its territory.

IX. The Republic of Bulgaria does not recognize the existence of any national minority on its territory.

X. The Republic of Greece recognizes only the existence of a religious minority - a Moslem one, but it denies the existence of national minorities.

XI. The policy of the national minorities in the Balkan countries should be such that it should dispose of the fear by the population in the countries they live in, from wishing or thinking of gradual changing of the existing borders, disguised under the pretext of demanding national minority rights.

XII. National minorities in the countries, where they live, should not allow to be subject of manipulation and interstate antagonism and to become a reason for meddling by one state into the affairs of another. They should cooperate and deepen the ties with constituent nation and with all the nationalities that live in the state. In this way they will become a powerful factor of peace, cooperation and friendship in the Balkans and Europe.

XIII. National minorities should make use of the positive examples from the European experience for gradual union of all European countries with respect for the minority rights and overcoming the national prejudices and antagonisms.

XIV. The multinational and multicultural character in the Balkan countries should be respected and creation of inter-ethnic tensions should be prevented.

XV. A joint request of all the present representatives of the national minorities from these four Balkan countries is that experts from international and European institutions make a scientific research on the rights of the national minorities in the Balkan countries and prepare a comparative study on the situation of the national minorities.

XVI. We call upon the Balkan countries to join in a competition in respect of the human rights and freedoms and the rights of the national minorities.

XVII. We propose that the year 2000 be accepted by the UN as the Year of the Rights of the National Minorities in the World.

XVIII. It is proposed that in 1998 this Conference be held in a country which would provide the hospitality. If this is not the case, then the mandate would be again given to the Society of the Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia, with its seat in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia, for the next year.

XIX. The Declaration was unanimously adopted - and signed by all representatives of organizations of national minorities in the. Balkan countries, present at its adoption.

XX. The list of signatories signed by the authorized representatives of the organizations of national minorities from the four Balkan countries is deposited with the Records Keeping Department of the Society of the Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia, with its seat in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia, while the proposal given in paragraph V has been dully taken account of.

XXI. The Declaration contains 20 paragraphs.

The List of Signatories of the Declaration, adopted at the Conference - 'The Situation of the national Minorities in the Balkans' which was held on 29 and 30 November 1997, in Popova Shapka, Tetovo, the Republic of Macedonia:

1. The Social-political Society 'Prespa' - Organization for protecting the rights of the Macedonians in the Republic of Albania,

2. The Political Society of the Macedonians from Republic of Albania 'Mir' ('Peace') Tirana,

3. The Society of the Armni (Vlachs) from the Republic of Albania,

4. The Society of the Egyptians in the Republic of Albania 'Nefreta' - Tirana,

5. OMO 'Ilinden' - Democratic Movement - Organization of the Macedonians from the Pirin Macedonia - Republic of Bulgaria,

6. 'Vinozhito' ('Rainbow') -European Movement - Organization of the Macedonian ethnic minority in the Republic of Greece,

7. The Scientific Society of Western Thrace - Organization of the Turkish national minority in Western Thrace, Republic of Greece

8. The Association of the Macedonians from the Aegean Part of Macedonia, with its seat in Bitola,

9. The League of the Vlachs from the Republic of Macedonia,

10. The Association of the Rhoma - Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia,

11. The Association of the Serbs, the Montenegrins and Macedonians - Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia,

12. The Association of the Boshnyaks (Bosnians) in the Republic of Macedonia.

 

30 November 1997
Popova Shapka, Tetovo
Republic of Macedonia

 

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