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Politician's advisor fired for advocating minority rights

(GHM/IFEX) - The following is a 9 November 2008 GHM press release:

Greece: Socialist International President fires advisor for advocacy of minority rights

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) denounces Socialist International and PASOK (Greek socialist party) President George Papandreou's sacking, on 7 November 2008, of GHM founding member and former president Gregory Vallianatos from his professional position of communication consultant because of his advocacy of Macedonian minority rights in his capacity of volunteer GHM advocate. This is the latest in a series of events that indicate that minority rights defenders, and especially those advocating the rights of the Macedonian minority, may face grave consequences in Greece.

On 6 November 2008, Gregory Vallianatos was interviewed by the private television channel Extra 3. After explaining his current work as communication consultant to PASOK President George Papandreou, he was asked if he was affiliated also with GHM and whether he approved of the NGO's positions that the Republic of Macedonia should be allowed to be called by that name and that in Greece there is a Macedonian minority. Gregory Vallianatos confirmed all that, explaining that on the issue of the Macedonian minority he - and GHM - merely quote the related reports and recommendations by the UN and Council of Europe expert bodies.

On 7 November 2008, PASOK issued the following statement (translated here from the Greek original available at: http://www.pasok.gr/portal/gr/3/69070/7/print/135/1/showdoc.html ):

"The Press Office of PASOK, following the statements by Gregory Vallianatos, issued the following release:

Following the recent statements by Gregory Vallianatos, in which he expressed his personal political views on foreign policy issues, ethical reasons impose the discontinuation of his professional relationship with PASOK."

BACKGROUND:
It should be recalled that GHM's Spokesperson, Panayote Dimitras, is currently the object of a criminal investigation for treason (secession of territory) because of his repeated statement on the Macedonia minority, including quoting the aforementioned UN and Council of Europe texts: (http://omct.org/index.php?id=&lang=eng&actualPageNumber=1&articleId=8009&itemAdmin=article ).

Moreover, four weeks earlier, four Macedonian journalists who had entered Greece to cover a story involving Macedonian minority members were briefly detained and then escorted back to their country. The same thing happened in mid-July with several other Macedonian journalists.

For further information on the detention of the four Macedonian journalists, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97669

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