Bosnia: Row over report on 'true' Greeks

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A CLASSIFIED Greek secret-service document which states that only members of the Orthodox Christian faith can be considered to be true Greeks, is causing uproar in the country and has been hurriedly retracted by the Athens government.

Details of the document were published by the independent daily Eleftherotypia at a time when Athens is cracking down hard on anyone who questions the controversial line it has taken against its Balkan neighbour, Macedonia, since the former Yugoslav republic declared its independence.

The report by the national security service EYP proposed that in future Greeks be divided into two categories, Orthodox Christians and all others. 'It would not be too much to say that any Greek who is not Orthodox is not completely Greek,' it stated.

It went on to call for a purge of 'heretics' from the media and stated that proselytising by non-Orthodox Christians - some 10 per cent of Greece's 10 million population - should be banned. The authors went on to propose that the Orthodox religion should form the basis of Greek foreign policy and that Greece should create an Orthodox Christian axis in the Balkans as a bulwark against 'the Turkish Muslim arc in the region'.

Some 100 pages long and entitled Contemporary Heresies and Para-religious Organisations in Greece, the document claims that the leaders and members of non-Orthodox church groups have 'a diminished national consciousness' because 'they follow the directions of foreign centres'.

The report, dated 19 January 1993, was apparently cancelled five months later by the secret service itself on the grounds that it contained 'unrealistic and entirely false elements'. When Eleftherotypia published its report over three pages, under the headline 'Documents of Shame', the government immediately distanced itself from it, saying that it only reflected the personal views of the author. A government spokesman described the report as 'unrealistic, unacceptable and completely false'.

However, Takis Michas, a columnist on the Greek business daily Kerdos, who is himself being harassed by the authorities for questioning Greek foreign policy, said that the report 'is shocking for a democracy'. Numerous Greek citizens had been prosecuted for questioning the government's harsh policies towards Macedonia but 'the authors of the secret service report have not even been fired', he said.

The EYP report was 'essentially a plot to overthrow the constitution', which guarantees freedom of religon in the country, Mr Michas said from Athens yesterday.

'Although it has now been officially withdrawn, it tells us a lot about the way of thinking in the intelligence service,' he said. Greek journalists and intellectuals who hold dissenting opinions from the government were already being purged, he said.

When Mr Michas' column criticising Alexander the Great was published in a conservative student newspaper, Omnikron, in February, he struck a particularly sensitive nerve. Two cases are now pending against him for claiming that the man Greeks call Alexander of Macedonia was 'a miserable slayer of people' and for asserting that nationalist demonstrations in Greece 'carried fascist overtones'. The general secretary of the ruling New Democratic Party called Mr Michas 'a national traitor'.