Skopje condemns detention of Macedonian journalists in Greece
Tuesday, 14 October 2008

PM Nikola Gruevski considers the detention of four Macedonian journalists by Greece in Lerin (Florina) region as a serious precedent, abuse of its status within the EU and attempt to demonstrate power instead of democratic capacity of a 21-century and EU member country.

Gruevski is paying a visit today to Johan Tarculovski in the detention unit within the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Talking to MTV, the Prime Minister said he informed the EU foreign, security policy chief about the case, which will also be a subject of discussion at Gruevski's meetings with Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels.

- I understand that every country is entitled to organize military exercises, but when they are practically taking place in front of the yards of citizens and are not relocated after numerous demands of the population, it becomes obvious that some other motif is in question. We are talking about a demonstration of power and attempt of spreading fear among the population, which is far from democratic move of a EU member country, Gruevski said.

Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over a letter of protest to the Head of Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, Alexandra Papadopoulou, over the detention of four Macedonian journalists in northern Greece.

The detention of journalists breaches the Article 10 of the European Convention for Human Rights and OSCE documents on freedom of speech and expression, MoFA's letter reads.

The journalist crews did not take photographs in the restricted area, as claimed by Greek authorities. Zero photographs were found during the check up of the journalists' equipment.

MoFA calls on Greek authorities to take appropriate measures and prevent repeating of such incidents in the future.

The letter of protest will be submitted to the European Commission Delegation in Skopje and NATO Secretary General's Cabinet in Brussels, MoFA said.

The Journalists' Association of Macedonia also deems the latest incident as rather serious because they were enabled to perform their professional duties and to accurately report on the latest developments in northern Greece.

- The fact that this isn't the first time Macedonian journalists are hampered from doing their duties is alarming, the Association reacts in a statement.

On behalf of the journalists in Macedonia, the Association urges EU institutions to finally inspect the problem involving the behaviour of Greece's authorities towards Macedonian citizens who are professionally executing their tasks and to take all measures for protection of human and professional rights, enshrined in EU's constitution and laws.

Earlier today the Greek police detained journalist crews of Macedonian A1 & A2 TV and a correspondent of 'Nova Makedonija' daily in Florina region (northern Greece).

The journalists were questioned for over one hour at a police station and required to present special Greek Foreign Ministry permit for photographing. Afterwards they were brought back to the venue of their interest, but banned to talk with local residents.

The journalists are visiting the region to report on developments after yesterday's incidents in Florina region. Namely one person was slightly injured and four detained in clashes between the local residents and Greek troops in this region, mostly populated with ethnic Macedonians. 


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