Wednesday, June 05, 2013


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Open Letter of Protest

To: Mr. Jan Kleijssen,
Director of the Secretary General’s Private Office

Cc: Council of Europe
Foreign Missions in RM
Government of RM
Parliament of RM
Cabinet of the President of RM
Local and International Media
United Nations
All other interested parties

Regarding: Note EB (2004) 05/2 March 2004 for the attention of the members of the Executive Board, References concerning "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and persons belonging to a minority or speaking a minority language outside the country.

Dear Mr. Kleijssen,

We strongly protest against the attempt an invented nationality, language and culture to be introduced by the Note EB (2004) 05/2, March 2004.

The current Letter of Protest regards the latest Note EB (2004) 05/2 March 2004, which introduces new "references concerning "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and persons belonging to a minority or speaking a minority language outside the country (…) to be used for all purposes within the Council of Europe". Those references obviously affect directly the identity, traditions and culture of the Macedonian nation, which is inconsistent with the commonly accepted international standards and principles.

Moreover, the Note itself contains legal controversies. It refers to the Resolution 95 (23), adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 October 1995, which states the following: "For all purposes within the Council of Europe, this State will provisionally be referred to as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" pending settlement of the difference which has arisen over the name of this State". No additional provision in the Resolution 95 (23) whatsoever refers to the categories of "nationality", "culture" or "language", which are introduced by the Note in question. Neither does the Resolution include any provision as regards persons belonging to a minority or speaking a minority language outside the country.

According to the European Convention on Nationality of 06.11.1997, "nationality" is the legal bond between a person and a State and does not indicate the person’s ethnic origin.1 Under the same Convention "Each State shall determine under its own law who are its nationals".2

Neither the international law nor the ethics allow the right for an organization or another subject of the international community to decide on one nation’s identity and origin. With all due respect towards the internal structure and activities of the General Secretariat of the Council of Europe, it is essential that the basic principle of the Council of Europe, i.e. the respect for human rights, continues to represent the main guideline of this Organization.

Furthermore, Republic of Macedonia is a multiethnic country. Defining all Macedonian citizens as persons of "Macedonian (Slav)" language, culture, traditions etc, may raise serious questions as regards the other ethnic groups that live in Macedonia and, thus jeopardize the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement.

Therefore, we consider this act to be a severe violation of the international law, which is strongly against actions that jeopardize one nation’s identity and integrity. In addition, this action is inconsistent with all the previous efforts made in order to preserve the cultural diversity of the region.

The content of the respective Note arose many questions: What is the incentive for such an action and what is to be expected next? Does this presuppose further redefinition of nationalities, languages and the cultural diversity of the whole Balkan region?

We will not look for obviously dangerous answers of these questions. We want to believe that this act results from an attempt to apply a pure bureaucratic approach to a serious geopolitical issue and/or from an insufficient understanding of the problems and tensions in the Balkan region.

As citizens of Republic of Macedonia we strongly recommend you revise the document in question which if not, will inevitably entail personal political responsibility on your part given the document does not represent an official act of the General Secretariat of the Council of Europe, as stated by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Walter Schwimmer.3 Any attempt to change or substitute our national identity is not acceptable.

Republic of Macedonia

1. European Convention on Nationality of 06.11.1997, Article 2.a
2. Ibid, Chapter II, Article 3.1
3. Utrinski Vesnik, “Schwimmer go bara krtot vo Sovetot na Evropa”, 18.03.2004, p. 3
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