The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned about restrictions on the free movement of journalists in the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
According to information before SEEMO, on 6 December 2004, Ali Ahmeti, leader of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), and Arben Dzaferi and Menduh Thaci, leaders of the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), visited the village of Kondovo, a suburb of Skopje, for a meeting with a paramilitary group stationed there. They were followed by a group of journalists working for print and electronic media in Skopje. After entering the village, the journalists reported seeing some 200 men in black uniforms.
Before the talks started, the journalists were forced to leave Kondovo and were told they would be given statements by the participants later. The reporters waited several hours for the meeting to end and were then approached by Ahmeti, who accused them of giving false reports.
SEEMO strongly condemns the attempt to restrict journalists from reporting on this event and the verbal attacks made by Ahmeti. We would like to stress that the free movement of journalists is a fundamental principle of any democratic society and we hope that the authorities will provide an explanation about this incident.