'Minority Protection and
The way forward.' Bolzano, 30-31.01.2004
I would like to send my best regards to all of the participants on this gathering and to express my deepest gratitude towards the respected Mrs. Petrikušić for the invitation and the chance for us, the Aromanians, to express our views and at the same time to suggest some points towards the promotion of the protection of the minority rights.
The Union for Culture of the Aromanians from Macedonia is a citizens' association, registered as a lawful organization in June 1997. The aims of the Union are the holding, development and propagation of the language and culture, in general, of the Aromanians in Macedonia as well as wider, in the scientific and cultural circles, as well as gaining of the rights of the Aromanians in Macedonia and wider, then co-operation with the according organizations of the Aromanians from Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, but also with the organizations and institutions from the United Europe. Up till now we have published 60 books in Aromanian and Macedonian, bilingual and multilingual books of which, we would like to mention: 'The Divine Comedy' of Dante Alighieri, 'Eneid' of Vergilius, 'Shah-Name' of Firdousi, Sonnets by Charles Bodler, 'The Poem of Tristan the Crazy' and others, we published 22 examples of the periodical 'Grailu Armănescu' ('The Aromanian language'), and we have participated with our published works on the International book fairs in Skopje, Moscow, Frankfurt, Belgrade, Sophia, Istanbul and others. Together with the National History Institute, we organized two International Symposiums named 'The Aromanians in the Balkans' (2001,2003). The Union is a member of the ECMI - Centre Skopje and a full time member of FUEV, with a centre in Flensbourgh, Germany.
The situation with the rights of the Aromanians from
the Republic of Macedonia.
With the proclamation of its independence in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia has recognized the Aromanians as a minority, and with the changes that have been made with the Frame agreement in Ohrid from 2001, the Aromanians, as well as the other minorities, have been recognized as a 'part of the Aromanian (Vlach) people', that fully coincides with the actual situation. With this, de facto, was acknowledged and proclaimed that the Aromanians are a people in the Balkans, which, because of a number of objective circumstances, does not have a state of its own and the 'Aromanian question' is still open today.[i] According to the Constitution and the other laws, we the Aromanians from the Republic of Macedonia have a right of organization of citizens' associations (a number of them have been formed from 1991) and political parties (2001 and 2002), broadcasts within the minority programs on Radio and TV (from 1991), we have a right for additional teachings in school (from 1996), a right and support from the state institutions for publishing of books and magazines, a right of religious service (from 2003) and others. For such courage, with the recognition of the Aromanians and the other minorities, Macedonia should be awarded with a Certificate for recognition. But, all of these acquired rights are realized with only a little support from the state. We do not have specialized cultural institutions whose aim would be a systematic review and development of these cultural acquirements. We even have problems in the realization of these ever so small gain.
If we add to this that in the Republic of Macedonia, in the period from 1944 till 1991 we did not have any of these rights and whole generations were a subject of a systematic and intentionally conducted assimilation, these small acquired rights and opportunities do not give the wanted results. Actually, the obstacles and the weak moral and financial support are in the spirit of this conducted assimilation. The very fact that education in the Aromanian language is not permitted for us in the primary, secondary and university education, with which there was no opportunity to produce teaching staffs in the Aromanian language, with which a Chair for the Aromanian language was not open in the Faculty of Philology, there are not any lessons about the Aromanians in any schoolbook (for literature, history or music) and also the decision for the assimilation of we, the Aromanians is clearly shown. The Government of the Republic of Macedonia signs but does not ratify any acts that concern the minorities (The Convention for lesser used languages, and other acts) and with that it runs from the performance of its duties that come from these acts. On the other hand, the institutions of the Council of Europe from Strasbourg, is not interested in acting in this way, with which we lack a protective mechanism.
The Aromanians in the complete minority context in the
Republic of Macedonia.
In the Republic of Macedonia, from all of the minorities that are recognized in the Preamble of the Constitution from 2001, only the Aromanians and the Roma people (Gypsies) do not have a national state. From 1991, there were two types of minorities in Macedonia: 'traditional' (the Albanians and Turks) and 'newly-recognized' (the Aromanians, Roma, Serbs and Bosnians). The Roma people, because of the special relationships of Europe towards them, got a 'special' support and help in the last ten years. Only we, the Aromanians remained 'on the bottom'.
Because of the known 'situation' with the Albanians in 2001 and the great 'love' of Europe and NATO with them, the plural form 'minorities' is mentioned only on a formal basis in Macedonia, but actually the relationships between the Macedonians and Albanians are concerned. The most clear case is the neglecting of the other minorities in the preparation of the Frame Agreement in Ohrid from 2001, the proclaiming of the Law for the passports, the Law for the University education, the Law for the local self-government, the finished Census from 2002, with which it was shown, only the thing that the Albanians wanted, to pass that minimum of 20% for the use of their minority language in the local self-government, the state institutions, the right for education etc. The games that are played with the Law for the local self-government and decentralization, lead only towards the neglecting of every other minority and the higher proclamation of the Albanians - the creation of a bi-national state.
With the new situation, the Albanians take many places in the governing structures, so they have become an additional obstacle for every other minority. Now, we have reached the state when every other minority to ask for their rights, not only from the Macedonians, but from the Albanians as well, and they because of the wider context do not approve of anyone to become apparent. Here we would like to point out the fact that the Albanians do not allow many of the Aromanians to become apparent, in order that the Aromanians from Albania would not get the idea of asking for the same rights that the Albanians have in Macedonia, and wider in the region.
So, because of the acquired right the parliamentary sessions to be broadcasted in Albanian as well, and these sessions usually take a whole day, the Aromanians, Serbs, Roma and Bosnians actually do not have their broadcasts on TV.
The Community Relations Committee, which was a duty from the Frame Agreement from Ohrid, not only that it was founded one year late, but at the same time is 'grabbed' by the Albanians and only the problems of the Albanians are on the agenda, but the problems of the other minorities are never put on the agenda.
The European institutions, foundations and associations
of the Aromanians.
1. According to our view of the situation, in these 13 years of independence of the Republic of Macedonia, the European institutions, foundations and associations that have been installed with their representative offices and activities in the Republic of Macedonia, shown a duality in the relationship with the minorities. Beside the great 'love' that was shown towards the Albanians, a not smaller interest was shown towards the Roma. For the Aromanians, nobody has shown a specific interest. A large number of the activists that arrived from the European institutions (really, the exceptions deserve every honour, that were actually of much help to us), even the high representations (the Council of Europe, OSCE, great foundations), on the meetings with them, on their and more on our request, we were asked what is our religion. When they heard that we were Orthodox Christians, they frowned, and the result was obvious: everywhere only the Albanians got jobs, the Roma were helped, hundreds of seminars for training for the production of projects, a lot of financing was given for the technology for radio and TV broadcasts (to some of the Roma associations were given two sets of equipment), there was nothing only for the Aromanians. We would like to ask: Does the fact that we are Orthodox Christians bother anyone? We do not want to, but we must ask: And with what did those that are Muslims, deserve a bigger respect and help? Are we, as we are, Orthodox Christians, wanted by Europe? Did those that help them promise anything else?
With this relationship, the European Institutions helped in producing a bigger gap between the minorities in Macedonia, and we are talking about people from different language, religion and race backgrounds, that could cause not just traumas, but also consequences in the future living together. During the meetings with some of the European diplomats, those who constantly gave us advice for understanding and a peaceful solution to the conflicts in 2001, to our question: ‘When will the Aromanian question be put seriously on the agenda, in their high and influential institutional organizations?’ on one occasion, even though unofficially, we were shocked by their answer: 'When you will have an army in the mountains!' Is this the way in which Europe would solve the cultural and human rights of the minorities? Is the blood shading the only way for the solution of the conflicts, and does this lead toward a better life together? We have the examples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Kraina in Croatia (are they not enough?!), where it cannot be seen that a peace has been achieved, but the ethnic cleansing has been successfully performed, on one hand, and we have hundreds of thousands of refugees, that were left without their homes, on the other.
We, the Aromanians, asked in the talks with the foreign representatives, a support from the activists and diplomats, of the so-called Romance language group, but we did not find a support in them, at least up till now.
2. And this is not the end. With pity, we would like to state that the Aromanians in the wider Balkan and European region are a subject to the manipulations by Greece and Romania.
- Greece, following the theory of the so-called 'Great Idea', even today has an influence on the Aromanians from Macedonia. It organizes courses for the learning of the Greek language in Ioannina and Neveska, it organizes summer camps for Aromanian pupils and students, on which the Greek influence is performed. Furthermore, under the motivation for investing in projects for the so-called 'inter-border cooperation' in some regions, Greece, uses European money for this honest inter-border cooperation, performs its own chauvinistic propaganda. With the visa system, also it performs a selective and propagandistic approach.[ii]
Amongst the Aromanians from Macedonia, Romania also performs its unjustified propaganda, by usurping the Aromanians as their own, and by calling us the Macedo-Romanians, even though the Aromanians do not want this. The Romanians do not recognize the Aromanian language and think of it as a dialect (!) of the Romanian language, they do not recognize the existence of the Aromanian people as a separate nation, and they do not recognize the script, literature, folklore and the registration of national organizations of the Aromanians from Romania. With this, Romania helps in the spreading of the Greek propaganda in Macedonia and Albania, and for this the greatest credit goes to the contemporary president of Romania, with his party, Mr. Ion Iliescu, that has made a fine agreement with Greece in order to get a pre-election financial support, i.e. the famous 'Trilakis case' for which Mr. Iliescu was criticized by the Romanian press, as well.
Romania makes obstacles for us on the European level as well, by Mr. Vasile Barba, who is a Romanian emigrant with his Union for the Language and Culture of the Aromanians, with a head office in Freiburg, Germany. Mr. Barba, has been showing himself as a victim (sic) of the communist regime, went to Freiburg and with perfidious methods worked for the Romanian, and with it, for the Greek cause. Unfortunately, in the last few years, with his developed mechanism, for the Albanian cause as well. He works in the name of the Aromanians, and in fact works for the destruction of Macedonia, which is the only place where we have been recognized in the Constitution, with which he would like to put an end to the 'Aromanian question'.
Propositions for the support measures of the 'Aromanian question' on the Balkans and its solution on a European level.
a) In the borders of the Republic of Macedonia
- The European states and institutions to recognize the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name and with this to remove from the agenda the question of the existence of this state, in only which we, the Aromanians have been recognized as a 'part of the Aromanian (Vlach) people' in order not to stop or cut off our future;
- The European institutional bodies and institutions to stop the existence of 'privileged' and 'second-rated' minorities in the Republic of Macedonia, and the suppression of the Aromanians from every possible way of using their cultural or minority rights;
- To insist that the Republic of Macedonia should ratify the Convention for lesser used languages;
- The Republic of Macedonia should implement and report on the implementation of the 'Recommendations 1333' that were proclaimed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 24 June 1997, that directly concern the Aromanians;
- The European Institutions (from Brussels and Strasbourg) to help us in the realization of the right for specialized cultural institutions for us, the Aromanians, and for the implementation of the Aromanian language in the system of kindergartens, pre-school institutions, and the primary, secondary and university education;
- The European Institutions (from Brussels and Strasbourg) to help us in the providing of electronic and printed media in the Aromanian language, publishing of books and other published materials;
- The European Institutions (from Brussels and Strasbourg) to send a proclamation to their activists that the fact that we the Aromanians are Orthodox Christians, and not of another religion, should not be taken as a bad thing;
- We ask for volunteers from the European Institutions, scientists and scientific institutions, foundations and associations which will help us, the Aromanians from Macedonia to defend ourselves from the forced and unauthorized usurping of Romania, and of it declaring us as Romanians and not recognizing our language, script, literature, folklore and the separateness as a people and from the Romanian and Greek propaganda here in the Republic of Macedonia, before the Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg;
- We ask for support and intervention of the European institutional bodies and institutions (from Brussels and Strasbourg) for a permit for the building of our own church buildings in which the religious service and rituals in the Aromanian language and by Aromanian priests;
- We ask for support from the European institutional bodies and institutions (from Brussels and Strasbourg) for the protection and maintenance of our cultural monuments of a material or other nature.
b) In the Balkans and in the European region.
- We ask for help and a mutual cooperation from the European scientific institutions and scientists for the finding of the documents about the exodus of the Aromanians in the second half of the XVIII (by the Albanians with the burning of Moscopole and other cities) and the first half of the XX century (by the Greeks and Bulgarians).
- We ask for help and cooperation from the European institutions and scientists about the clarification of the tendencies for the forming of the state of the Aromanians throughout the centuries and the place and contribution of the Aromanians in the creation of the culture and civilization of the Balkan and Europe, that is being stolen by some of the Balkan peoples;
- We ask for support and help in the opening of electronic and printed media for the Aromanians and the Aromanian language in Greece, Albania and Romania, because of the suppression and chauvinism on the Aromanians in these countries, under the flag and stamp of Europe, in order for them not to be kept by the state institutional bodies and institutions in these countries;
- The recognition and learning of the Aromanian language in the higher scientific institutions in the West, in order the manipulations of the scientists from Romania and Greece to be prevailed, that claim that it does not exist, that it is not developed enough etc;
- We ask for support and help from the European Institutions for the implementation of the religious service in the Aromanian language and the right of building church buildings and the right of an independent Aromanian church on the Balkans, especially in Greece;
- We also ask for support for providing of circumstances for education in the Aromanian language in the communities where the Aromanians live, in Albania, Greece, Romania and so on.
Propositions for the solution of the minority rights on an European level.
- The right for a 'nation without a state' should be recognized for all the minorities that do not have a national state instead of being treated as a minority. Such minorities, which have lasted for thousands of years on the same territories, are surely a people, not a minority;
- The right of forming their own national states should be recognized to all of the minorities that do not have their national state, and that live in a satisfying majority on a certain territory/region (like Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein and many others in the world - Nauru...)(For the Aromanians in the regions of Southern Albania, Epirus and Muzakia, and even a federalization of Albania, then in the regions of Thessaly, Pindus and Southern Epirus in Greece, that are also the fatherland of the Aromanians[iii] and are populated only by Aromanians or assimilated Aromanians - it would be best if Greece would federalize into a Greek-Aromanian-Macedonian-Turkish Federation). The first step toward this would be giving rights like the ones that the Romanians in Switzerland or the Slovenians in Italy got...) With this solution (on the Balkans) the tendency for a Great Greece, Great Albania would be lost, because it is made for the worse status of the Aromanian territories and the Aromanians as a people;
- In the Parliaments in Brussels and Strasbourg, should be formed so-called delegate groups for the minorities, with a certain number of sits, that they would share according to their agreement, but with a decisive right: nothing that concerns the minority problem should not be adopted without the consent of that minority group of delegates;
- To be permitted that certain national organizations of the minorities to issue special passports for the representatives of the certain minorities, that would have an European stamp, in order this representatives could freely go through the borders that have been closed because of certain caprices of the national states (the Aromanians from Albania must fulfil some conditions, i.e. they should sign declarations that proclaim them to be Greeks, and to get new names in order to get working visas for Greece, Romania began to make conditions for the Aromanians from Macedonia to ask for a Romanian citizenship, etc.)
- In the future Government of the United Europe, there should be a special Ministry for the minorities without a national state and the Ministry of Justice, should provide a mechanism for decisions about certain reports of the representatives of the national minorities of a state, concerning the negative circumstances of their representatives in another national country;
- A mechanism should be provided that would stop the financial aid of the countries that use it for their propaganda in certain regions, out of their borders and with which, they create a separation between some persons from the same minority group;
- A radio and television programme called 'Small Europe' should be founded on a United European level, where there would be broadcasts on all the languages of the minorities that do not have a national state and these broadcasts to be emitted through a satellite to all the countries, especially to those where the minorities cannot form any broadcasts in their language (Greece, Albania and others), then printed media, books and other editions to be published, and distributed to the regions where it is not permitted to;
- The representatives of the minorities that participate within the national representations on the World Championships, Olympiads, Student Olympiads etc, to be permitted to carry, beside the features of the nation for which they participate, their minority national features as well. The following should be discussed with FIFA, UEFA and similar sport organizations, that when they organize Olympiads, European or similar championships, before the start of these great manifestations, they should permit the sporting performance of the smaller representations of the minorities as well, in order that they represent themselves before the public, which permit them to prove themselves of their true worth;
- One should organize musical or other art contests on a European level, with the representatives of the minorities;
- Within an institution in United Europe, a special 'Alexandrian Library' should be formed, with only the editions of the minorities. With this, there would be circumstances for the formation of book and documentary funds for the study of history, language, folklore, ethnology etc, of the minorities, which would mean an impulse for the creation of staffs that would work in their regions where it is not permitted;
- Special funds to be created for scholarships of cadres from the minorities, financing of industrial and other economical projects in the regions that are populated mostly by the minorities that the national states are not interested in founding, for unjustified causes;
- Other lawful and financial opportunities to be created, for an uninterrupted development and keeping of the minorities in their traditional national regions.
Like so many times up till now, I have written my sincerest thoughts and the objective status of the Aromanians in the Republic of Macedonia, and I let myself to abuse your kind attention to elaborate the state of the Aromanians wider in the Balkans. As I have said in the above text, I made this only because the Aromanians in Greece, Albania and Romania, cannot even dream that they would freely elaborate their own state. The Aromanians in Greece 'the cradle of democracy' have been living for a hundred years, in an unseen chauvinistic atmosphere, and the democratic Europe permits it knowingly. Until when?
The Aromanians in Albania are not taken into consideration by any of the European Institutions. There is not even a piece of sand of the democracy and the human rights over there, which the Albanians have asked (but how?) and got in the Republic of Macedonia and wider.
The Romanians and especially some individuals and political parties have uninvitingly grabbed the right not only to make us like their own, but also to 'sell' us and get money for their ambitions to become part of the government or even to become presidents of states.
That is why I am talking in their name!
If Europe really wants to be righteous towards all of its citizens and all of us want to feel equal with everyone, if Europe wants to keep the culture of any, even the smallest minority and with this to be richer, if Europe does not want any culture that has been here for thousands of years to die, then Europe would have to bring laws that will punish the eternal genocide over the minorities, as it brought laws for the protection of some animal or plant kinds.
We would like to tell the wise people from Europe, of today or tomorrow: not to permit their grandchildren to start their scientific books with the beginning of any tale: 'Once upon a time, in the Balkans, there lived some Aromanians...' They would be judged by their grandchildren, if they find out that then and there, died the last one that spoke that language... and if they accidentally find out that their father or grandfather was the Minister of culture, the Minister of minorities etc in that year. Oh what a bad thing!
I would not like this to happen! I am still hoping!
Dicti et salvavi animam
of the Union for Culture of the Aromanians
Dimo N. Dimcev (Dina Cuvata)
[i] The Aromanians are a people that lives in the whole Balkan Peninsula. They mostly live in Geece (about 2.5 million), Albania (about 800.000 - 100.000.000), Macedonia (about 90.000), Bulgaria (about 15.000), Romania (about 200.000-250.000), Serbia and Monte Negro (about 60.000) and Western Europe, North America and Australia (about 350.000). The fatherland of the Aromanians are the provinces of Thessaly, Pindus, Epirus, a part of Western Macedonia that is under the Greek occupation, and Epirus, Kolonja and Muzakia in Albania. The existance of the Aromanians in Macedonia and Bulgaria is a result of the number of the exoduses performed upon the Aromanians in the XVIII through the XX century (with the burning of the Aromanian cities by Ali Pasha of Ioannina, that was incited by the Patriarchy from Istanbul when about 200.000 Aromanians were banished) but also from the exodus during the First and Second World War and the Civil war in Greece from 1946-1949, as well as the people exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1922, when Greece destroyed a number of Aromanian villages and with this banished a large number of Aromanians, that then settled in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Western Europe, North America and Australia.
[ii] Greece does
this, so that the question about the Aromanians would not be risen up in
Europe, because unjustified and with lies got the territories of Epirus and
Thessaly with the Berlin Congress from 1878 (beside the many petitions and
protests of the Aromanians to that Congress, and to the representatives at the
Congress as well as to the Turkish administration), then the rest of Thessaly,
Epirus, Pindus and 50 % of Macedonia at the Bucharest Peace Conference from
1913, because their unjustified requests for the territory of Bulgaria (the
districts of Kaliakra and Durostor,
i.e. the so-called Southern Dobrudja), Romania as a
host of the Conference helped the Greeks and sold the national interests of the
Aromanians even though it performed its propaganda for a long time with the
Aromanians from Greece.
[iii] In 1917 and 1941, during the battles, the Aromanians proclaimed their national state creations.