admin1 – July 18, 2008 – 2:58pm

In Greece there is no "Macedonian minority", and there has never been. All other claims are absolutely unfounded and mismatched with the historical reality of the region, says Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis in his response to his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski's letter. Karamanlis believes that Gruevski's letter is taking both countries further away from the goal of the talks given that it is an attempt to interfere with Greece's home affairs.

Gruevski had called in his letter for recognition of the Macedonian minority and for giving back the Macedonians forced out of their home in northern Greece in the 1940s their repossessed properties.

Karamanlis says the resolution of the property rights of these people should be done only through the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. He further explains that his country undertook 15 years ago within the UN to resolve the name issue, which should be closed in favor of peaceful and good neighbor relations between the two countries. He also says he regrets that the Macedonian side decided to send him such a letter now that UN-appointed mediator Matthew Nimetz is proposing ideas for resolution of the dispute.

Macedonian media publish documents today from the Institute for National History proving that in the territory of present-day northern Greece, or Aegean Macedonia, numerous ethnic Macedonian population lived. In the Turkish archives, with which the Macedonian Institute announced close cooperation, there are documents pertaining to the land and about the censuses the Ottoman Empire conducted for the region that is today northern Greece. The analysis of these documents shows that in the region of Lerin (Florina) around 80 percent of the landowners have Macedonian names, and the situation is similar in other regions of Aegean Macedonia.

Experts from the Macedonian Institute for National History say that according to the Turkish census records of the 15th and 16th century Greek population lived only in the southern territories of present-day Greece, while its northern regions were dominated by Slav people.

Today's Nova Makedonija carries on its front page excerpts from Karamanlis's speech delivered at the Council of Europe a year ago in which he regrets the plight of the Greek refugees from northern Cyprus and demands that they be given back their confiscated properties. He also requests a European solution to this issue.

Dnevnik says that the Macedonian Government also expects Greek neo-Nazis and other radical groups in northern Greece to provoke an incident in the village of Ovcarani near Lerin where the traditional gathering of ethnic Macedonians in Greece should take place in a few days. The paper says that in spite of the Greek threats and attempt to prolong the resolution of the name issue, PM Gruevski wants a compromise to be found as soon as possible.