Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Radio Station Owner Arrested in Greece for Broadcasting in Macedonian Language

Vienna, 9 June 2004

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 premisses of the private radio station Makedonikos Ichos (Macedonian Sound) in Naoussa, ceased the transmitting and arrested the owner, Aris Vottaris. The official explanation was that this radio station has no licence for local or regional transmission. Vottaris was released after few hours, but there were charges pressed against him because of illegal transmission and lack of documents. Vottaris is a (Slav) Macedonian and was often transmitting traditional songs and dances in Macedonian language, as well as using Macedonian language on air.

In SEEMO's opinion, it is very surprising that only this radio station was shut down, although, according to our sources, there are many other radio stations operating in the prefectures of Imathia and Pella (N.Greece) under the same conditions.

SEEMO asks Greek officials to speed up the process of regulation-making for radio licences, especially for alternative radio stations such as Makedonikos Ichos, which are working on regional or local level.

We would like to remind, that it is crucial for journalists that they can do their job freely and that independent media are very important for democratic development in any country.