The AMHRC condemns the racist remarks made by the Mayor of Salonika (Thessaloniki in Greek and Solun in Macedonian), Yiannis Boutaris. In an interview with the Greek newspaper Neos Kosmos which appeared in the Greek on-line version of the newspaper (25/11/2014), he stated: “My family hails from Kruševo [a town located in the Republic of Macedonia] but I find it very hard to say this is Macedonia…we should not forget that these people are Bulgarians. There is no Macedonian language. All this was created by Tito….”
While we are not surprised at the racist negation of the Macedonian nation and language by yet another Greek official, it is nonetheless astonishing that Boutaris chose to make such an offensive statement while supposedly on an official visit to Melbourne to celebrate the sister city relationship between Melbourne and Salonika.
Mr Boutaris’s assertions that the Macedonians “are Bulgarians”, that there is no Macedonian language and that both are a “creation of Tito” are supported only by Greece and Bulgaria where the Macedonian minorities are denied the most basic human, cultural and political rights. The Macedonian language is internationally recognised by all reputable linguists as a separate language and Macedonian ethnicity is a reality not only in the Republic of Macedonia, but also in Greece, Bulgaria and many other parts of the world – especially Australia, where the Macedonian language is taught at primary, secondary and tertiary level.
Mr Boutaris should immediately apologise for his ignorant racist comments which not only offend and humiliate Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia, but also Melbourne’s sizeable Macedonian population. His offensive views do not only undermine the sister city relationship, but also represent a repudiation of the values of tolerance, diversity and mutual respect on which it is ostensibly based.
Established in 1984, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non-governmental organisation that informs and advocates before international institutions, governments and broader communities about combating racism and promoting human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world, are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment. For more information please visit www.macedonianhr.org.au, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via +61 3 9329 8960.