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The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered the combined sixteenth to nineteenth periodic reports of Greece on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Below you can read the points that consern the Slavmacedonians in Greece.
Report of Greece
In the context of minorities, references made by a very small number of non-governmental organizations to a so-called “Macedonian minority” in Greece do not correspond to existing realities. The fact that a small number of persons who live in Northern Greece use, in addition to the Greek language, Slavic oral idioms, does not indicate the existence of a national minority. Furthermore, the use of the term “Macedonian” to describe a so-called minority usurps the name and national and cultural identity of some two and a half million Greeks who identify themselves for many centuries as Macedonians (Makedones) in the regional and cultural context and can therefore not be accepted.
Presentation of Report
In this connection, claims that Greece did not recognize the existence of a national linguistic minority by the name of “Macedonian” were totally unsubstantiated and threatened to create potential tensions over existing identities in the region, as well as serious confusion over that name, as it was also used by hundreds of thousands Greek Macedonians living in the northern part of the country, said Ms. Telalian. Also, the non-recognition of numerically small groups as a national minority did not imply discriminatory treatment.
Oral Questions Raised by the Rapporteur and Experts
JOSE LINDGREN ALVES, the Committee Expert serving as country Rapporteur for the report of Greece, said he could not agree more with Greece’s answer to his question as to why Greece had not ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe, while it had signed it in 1997. In its response Greece had said that the diversity of legal and socio-political circumstances and historic traditions prevailing in each country called for tailor-made rather than “one size fits all” conceptual approaches and practical solutions. If this response held true for Europe, it held truer for the rest of the world.
Turning to the question of those who insisted on a Slavic Macedonian minority, Mr. Lindgren Alves said that the most important thing was to assure their human rights in general, including their right to use their dialect or mother language, as any other group. The non-recognition of a group as a minority did not deprive such a group from the enjoyment of its rights. He had been interested to learn that even a political party to foster the claims of Slavic Macedonians had been accepted and had been freely participating in parliamentary elections.
One Expert noted that there was a group speaking a Slavic language in the country, they did not need to be considered as Macedonians, if this led to confusion over the name, but they were still using a Slavic language, which they had not invented and they should have the right to use it. Also political parties should not be divided by ethnicities as this could undermine the unity of the State. Further, for him it was more important to know whether a minority had the right to use its language, not if it had the right to form a political party.
Response by Delegation to Oral Questions
On the so-called Slavic “Macedonians” the delegation said that this was not a case of self identification as this group did not base its identification on objective criteria. The “Slavic” qualifier was not used in this case. The only qualifier used by this community was the “Macedonian” one. The problem was that the “Macedonian” term was already used by thousands of people in Greece. Up until recently, this group of “Slavic Macedonians” had been completely unknown, not only to Greece but to the whole Balkan region.
The delegation said that the “Slavic Macedonians” were however not prevented from speaking their oral idiom or from stating that they were part of a certain group. The fact that the Greek State had not officially recognised them did not mean that this community was not fully enjoying its rights and that its members were not fully respected by the Greek State.
The delegation underscored that there was a dignity in the name of the Greek Macedonians and said that Greece had not gotten any answer yet on why the State should not respect the cultural and historical heritage of the Greek Macedonians. It had nothing to do with the denial of the existence of a minority group but the denial of a name that was already used since a long time.
Further Oral Questions Posed by Experts
Jose Lindgren Alves, the Committee Expert serving as country Rapporteur for the report of Greece, said that, on the question of the so-called “Slavic Macedonians”, he did not know that they were denying their Slavic origin, even though he had been an ambassador to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He wondered if it would change something if this community would recognise its “Slavic Macedonian” culture.
Replies by the Delegation
Responding to this question, the delegation said that they were not in a position to respond in a hypothetical sense. Very recently, Greece had said that the “Slavic Macedonians” should have used a qualifier to clarify their origin. Why were they constantly using the name Macedonian, which already identified 2.5 million Macedonians in the cultural sense? Even the former leaders of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had admitted that they were of Slavic origin. This question had only come up in the last years. Everyone in the Balkans knew very well what minorities there were in the Balkans, as the question of minorities in the Balkans had created so many tensions in the region. This was the very first time that they had heard of a “Macedonian” group in this region. It was a question of dignity of the name “Macedonian”.
This difference had created a tension with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and even the United Nations Security Council had said that there was a difference in the name. This situation had to be solved. In Security Council resolution 1845, the Council had asked the two parties to settle the question under the auspices of the United Nations.
This clearly showed that what was in a name had several historical and political implications. It was not a question of a specific denial but the risk of creating tension among identities in the Balkans.
The use of the Macedonian name as a state appellation in no way confers the right to appropriate everything and anything derived from or pertained to the entire region of Macedonia. This needs to be legally clarified and remain binding erga omnes. The state name needs specifically to refer to and describe the present region of FYROM. It should apply erga omnes in multilateral and bilateral international relations and transactions and should be observed by all organizations, states, and other non-governmental international organizations, including the government and the agencies of FYROM. As Kofos said  Greek and FYROM parties should accept the name used by the inhabitants of FYROM for their region of geographical Macedonia, i.e. Vardar Macedonia, or preferably Vardar Makedonija.
It is therefore clear that the appropriation of the name Macedonia by the FYROM, on which they have based all their propaganda and even their national existence, does not even correspond to their own false national identity since their artificially created state does not have any national homogeneity. This appropriation of the Macedonian name goes against every principle of justice and conceals other expediencies which directly insult Greek national and Macedonian Cultural Identities as shows the unchanging nature of their continuous propaganda.