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Articles in English

The mass media as part of the Cyprus Issue

AS FAR as the Cyprus issue is concerned, the end of the line has been reached. The national issue of Cyprus is about to round the last bend. It's difficult to foresee what the end will be. What is certain is that, with or without a solution, the Cyprus issue is reaching a conclusion. No solution means partition, and the worst possible form of partition at that. Neither President Christofias nor Mehmet Ali Talat would like to be held responsible for that tragic conclusion, since they both head political parties which have fought against partition for decades.

 

The new Cypriot leadership seems to realise the seriousness of the situation. Cypriot society no longer harbours the illusion that accession to the EU will bring about our dream solution. On the contrary, it has become understood that accession has imposed compromises which were completely unthinkable before May 1, 2004.

 

However, one of the key players in the Cyprus issue, the mass media and their functionaries, refuse to accept the new realities. The reason is very simple and totally understandable: this is how they have been trained to function over the half century of the Cyprus issue's existence.

 

I have personally thumbed through dozens of volumes of newspaper archives from all periods of the Cyprus issue. At least until the year 2000, I have never located a single article in any Cypriot newspaper, dealing with any minor issue, in which the other side was acknowledged to be in the right even in the slightest way. This phenomenon is not confined to the post-1974 era, when grief over the disaster did not leave any margin for self-criticism, but it also extends back to the first years of the Republic, when we Greek Cypriots had the upper hand.

 

Fanaticism and intolerance are phenomena which have thrived among Cypriots of both communities. But we are forced to admit that the Turkish Cypriot press has been more daring and more open-minded. The only Cypriot journalists who paid with their lives for their criticism of their own community's leadership were the Turkish Cypriots Ayhan Hikmet and Musafer Gurkan, who were murdered on April 23, 1962.

 

Even after 1974, when the Turks were intoxicated on their "success", newspapers like Hassan Kahvecioglu's Ortam investigated and reported shocking facts on looting of Greek Cypriot properties, illegal seizure and trading of antiquities and destruction of Greek and Christian cultural heritage in occupied Cyprus by gangs acting under cover provided by the Turkish army.

 

I am personally grieved not to have found in Greek Cypriot newspapers one article, one voice of protest, or even one piece of information about the 527 houses totally destroyed, or the 2,000 houses damaged in 103 mixed or Turkish Cypriot villages in the first half of 1964, and to only have found out about it, decades after the fact, from reading the report from the time by the Secretary-General of the United Nations (S5950, 10/9/64).

 

So a new procedure has started on the Cyprus issue. Things are difficult, much more difficult than in 2004. Despite that, all information refers to an exceptionally positive climate prevailing in the working groups and committees. The United Nations record, for the first time ever, honest political will from both sides. Yet the Cypriot mass media are reporting crises, rifts and provocations, and some even held a funeral for the new procedure before it even drew breath. I see images of Burgenstock before me, when the same people were reporting – using suitably edited information – that the United Nations was delivering Cyprus bound hand and foot to Turkey. And they seemed very happy about it.


Μακάριος Δρουσιώτης

Cyprus Mail

11/05/2008