Macedonian Culture NGO Threatened by Extremists

2017-08-07 EDESSA (VODEN) – Once again, Macedonian rights activists in Northern Greece are being threatened by Greek extremists, not long after the activists opened their new offices and started to display their sign in the town of Edessa (Voden), approximately 90km northwest of Thessaloniki (Solun), in the heart of Aegean Macedonia.

The Macedonian Educational and Cultural Movement of Edessa – Voden is a group which promotes cultural awareness through conferences, exhibitions and other educational activities, emphasizing the region’s rich Macedonian heritage; a territory which was annexed by Greece for the first time in history in 1913. In 1922, thousands of Christian Grecophones were imported from Turkey under the Treaty of Lausanne, while thousands of native ethnic Macedonians were exiled, under an ongoing state policy of cultural genocide.

Today, the descendants of the imported Grecophones from Turkey are on the front line of neo-Nazi parties like the Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn). Together with radical hate preachers within the Greek Orthodox Church like Bishop Antihimos of Thessaloniki, they specialize in intimidation tactics against the Macedonian community of northern Greece, despite the fact that many of these regions maintain a majority ethnic Macedonian population.

Eugenia Natsoulidou, the president of the organization, along with the organization’s members, have been targeted with threats on a social media page, including the following:

• “Any Fifth Columnist … must simply surrender his identity card and disappear from our holy land of Macedonia…”

• “…(there are already) coordinated plans (for them)… now is the time for them to be implemented.”

• “(such an office in the town center is) shameful. A prosecutor must intervene immediately, otherwise there will surely be some deplorable incident.”

• “Only the EYP (Greek National Intelligence Service) can do something, and of course, the hands of the authorities will be untied at some point.”

• “Let’s get (the members of the group) in handcuffs to start with, and show them to all the mass media. Clearly an EYP issue.” (implying that member of the group are guilty of espionage)

Today, Natsoulidou reported the incident at police headquarters, and filed a complaint for slander and threats against the organization, its members and premises. Three of the extremists who made the threats will be called by the police station to apologize. After being informed about the content of their statements, the NGO will decide how to proceed further legally.

It is not the first time Natsoulidou and her group have been threatened and accused of “espionage” for daring to preserve the local culture and traditions of the region. In 2012, the newspaper Protothema make similar accusations, and it also resulted in legal action.

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