in Central and West Macedonia. They vehemently deny it and attribute political motives to those who claim it. Successive governments have pursued a policy of denial of the ethnic Macedonian community and the Macedonian language
. Many consider this a modern day version of Tito’s efforts to create a myth of a Macedonian nation giving support to his expansionist claims against that region of Greece. The response of earlier Greek governments was to suppress any use of the Macedonian language and cultural activities
. In recent times the harsh tactics have ceased but those identifying as ethnic Macedonian still report discrimination and harassment. They consider it of crucial importance for their continued existence that their ethnic identity and distinctiveness
is respected. The Macedonian language is not recognized, taught, or a language of tuition in schools
42. In the 1920s and 30s laws required the replacement of non-Greek names of towns, villages, rivers and mountains with Greek names. The family names of the Macedonian-speaking population were also required to be changed to Greek names. Individuals seeking to re-instate Macedonian family names have had their petitions refused by authorities on administrative grounds
. Community representatives note that traditional names continue to be in common usage and call for reinstatement and the official usage of a dual nomenclature e.g. Florina/Lerin
45. The Independent Expert met numerous individuals identifying as ethnic Macedonian.
Some described themselves as fluent in the Macedonian language, having learned it within their families as it is not taught at school
. Others described frustration that they lack fluency due to the lack of learning opportunities. They claim to have made numerous approaches to the Greek Ministry of Education regarding language education, which have never been acknowledged
46. Some described pressure not to display their Macedonian identity or speak Macedonian, previously banned in some villages
. Despite their claim of the existence of distinct Macedonian villages, they described a general fear to demonstrate their identity. It was acknowledged that the
situation had improved from a previous era, however they described a “softer discrimination” manifested in general hostility and pressure on the part of authorities and the media.
One participant stated: “I am a Greek citizen…but I am Macedonian when talking about my village, my language and my identity.”