Greece banning Macedonian and Albanian journalists from entering country
Greece had already banned two Macedonian journalists, Goran Momirovski and Ivana Kostovska, branding both of them as "persona non grata", in official documents describing them as "dangerous" and "enemy of the state".
The reason was quite simple. Both Momirovski and Kostovska reported and wrote about towns in Greece where ethnic Macedonians are the majority of the population. There was no 'calls for attack', or any sort of 'nationalism' in the reports, rather, both Kostovska and Momirovski quoted locals and wrote of their daily life and challenges. They even attempted and in some cases interviewed Greek officials.
However, it seems Macedonian journalists are not the only ones who are banned from entering Greece for life. The same thing happened to Marin Mema, Albanian journalist working for Top Channel. He made a report after visiting the "Chameria" region, speaking to the Çam population (present day NW Greece). After his story aired on Albanian TV, Mema tried to enter Greece for personal reasons, and was shown the same piece of paper Momirovski and Kostovska were shown. He was told by the border police he was an 'enemy to the state' and will not be allowed to enter Greece, his entire life.
"If reporting out of Greece on historical facts gets you banned from the country, it paints a good picture about the level of democracy in the country", says Mema in an interview for Skopje based Dnevnik.
"While we get banned, Greek journalists do as they please in Albania, and I am sure in Macedonia as well. The Albanian Union of Journalists organized protests in front of the Greek Embassy, but also in front of the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Nothing changed, the persona non grata remains" says Mema.
Somewhat surprisinig, Greek Media got involved with the latest persona non grata case. Greek daily "Kathimerini" questions how would they have responded if Greek journalists are not allowed entry in Macedonia and can't do their job?
In an editorial, Kathimerini journalist admits he had a hard time believing Macedonian journalist was declared 'enemy of the state', going on to say - I would like to get an explanation why is our national security threatened by a journalist even if they are of a militaristic type which she isn't. Why did the police prevented her (Ivana Kostovska) to enter Greece if she had her traveling documents in order? Whose orders is our border police following? Does anyone home ever think of the embarrassment this causes to our country, has anyone calculated the damages this move will cause to our international image? Democratic nations have no reason to fear journalists, or reports. Finally, how we would have reacted if the very same thing happened to a Greek colleague instead of a journalist from Skopje.
Macedonian FM Popovski discussed the case with his Greek colleague, Avramopoulos. The case is considered 'closed', the Dnevnik editor will never be allowed to enter Greece, neither for her job nor for personal reasons.
Presently, Greece has declared over 1,000 Macedonians 'persona non grata'. Handful of journalists and the rest are ordinary citizens who have land and properties in Greece, but aren't allowed to enter the country and gain access.
Greece, has the privilege of being the second country in the world to bar journalists from entering. The other is North Korea, they too are selective which journalists can enter.