Denying Ethnic Identity

The Macedonians of Greece

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The Greek government views the term "Macedonian" as a geographic term that describes all Greek citizens living in the Macedonian region in northern Greece. The government denies the assertions of the ethnic Macedonians in Greece that they are a minority group; officials refer to them as "Slavophone Greeks" or "bilinguals." In July 1993, a fact-finding mission made up of representatives of three organizations, the Danish Helsinki Committee, Minority Rights Group-Greece, and Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, went to northern Greece to look into the situation of the Macedonian minority there. The climate of fear was striking; a large number of people asked the mission not to use their names, for fear of losing their civil service jobs or being harassed by police. The mission also journeyed to Bitola in the southern region of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to interview ethnic Macedonian political refugees from Greece who have been denied the right to regain their citizenship or property (taken from them after the Greek Civil War) or to visit relatives and friends in northern Greece.

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