The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned about a recent media development in Greece.
According to information before SEEMO, on Friday, 4 June 2004, police entered the premises of the private radio station Makedonikos Ichos ("Macedonian Sound") in Naoussa, seizing transmitting equipment and arresting the owner, Aris Vottaris. The official explanation for the action was that the radio station did not have a licence for local or regional transmissions.
Vottaris was released after a few hours, but charged with illegal transmissions and a lack of the appropriate documents. His radio station broadcasts in the Macedonian (Slavo-Macedonian) language and frequently transmits traditional songs in Macedonian (Slavo-Macedonian).
SEEMO is concerned that the authorities singled out this particular radio station, despite the fact that other radio stations in the districts of Imathia and Pella in northern Greece operate under similar conditions.
SEEMO urges the Greek authorities to speed up the process of issuing broadcasting licences, especially for alternative radio stations such as Makedonikos Ichos, which work on a regional or local level, and to guarantee everyone's right to "seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers," as indicated by Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We would further like to stress that it is crucial for journalists to exercise their profession freely and that the independent media are fundamental to the democratic development of any country.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI).