Type Size
 
Monday, 07 May 2012

SEEMO Concerned by Media Pressure in Greece

Group Calls on All Political Parties to Respect Democratic Principles 

Members of the Greek extreme right Golden Dawn party hold red flares outside the town hall of Perama town, near Athens, during an election campaign rally April 23, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

VIENNA, May 7, 2012 – The Vienna-based South East Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is concerned by the latest pressures and threats exerted on the media by the Greek Golden Dawn party. The party, commonly described as a radical, right-wing party, obtained 6.9 percent of the votes, or 21 out of 300 seats in the Greek parliament, during the May 6, 2012 elections. 

On the evening following the election, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos appeared at his first press conference after the elections. As reporters were waiting for Michaloliakos to arrive, party members ordered journalists to stand to show respect for him. When some journalists refused to obey the orders they were expelled from the room, as shown on a video posted on the website of Protothema. According to Greek media outlets To Vima and Protothema, mostly foreign journalists remained in the room. 

In another previous incident on April 12, 2012, Greek journalist Xenia Kounalaki published a story on Golden Dawn in the Kathimerini daily, explaining why she considered it impossible to have a dialogue with them. Five days later, she wrote in German weekly Der Spiegel: “An anonymous reply to my article appeared on the Golden Dawn website. It was a 2,500-word-long personal attack… [they] recounted my entire career, mocked my alleged foreign roots (I was born in Hamburg) and even, for no apparent reason, mentioned my 13-year-old daughter. The unnamed authors indirectly threatened me as well: ‘To put it in the mother tongue of foreign Xenia: “Kommt Zeit, kommt Rat, kommt Attentat!” ’ In other words, watch your back.”

“I am very worried by these developments,” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO secretary general, said. “All political parties have to respect democratic principles and press freedom. However, in one month, the Golden Dawn party threatened one journalist and obliged reporters to stand to salute the party leader or leave the press conference. I hope that these incidents will be isolated cases and that the Golden Dawn leaders will respect democratic principles."