By Angelos Anastasiou
AKEL’s leader Andros Kyprianou lashed out on Saturday against the public broadcaster’s (CyBC) management, claiming a speech he gave on Friday on the 1974 military coup and subsequent Turkish invasion was purposely ignored to make way for a 20-minute story on the third anniversary of 2011’s Mari explosion that cost the lives of 13 individuals.
“I sincerely regret being forced to address this open letter to the members of the CyBC’s board,” Kyprianou wrote. “Unfortunately, however, the way the state broadcaster has operated over the past year leaves me with no other options.”
Kyprianou laid out the premise of his complaint in the gap between the role of public broadcasting, which he said was to objectively and comprehensively inform the public, and what he claimed it has become – a “medium of propaganda and government policy”.
“The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was [Friday’s] anniversary of the tragic explosion at Mari, where 13 of our fellow citizens lost their lives,” the letter continued. “Justifiably, the CyBC ranked it as the leading story and gave it almost 20 minutes.”
Apart from claiming 13 lives, Mari – the result of political inertia on behalf of many government officials – became a political calamity for AKEL’s former leader Demetris Christofias and his government.
But Kyprianou was unhappy that a speech he gave at Livadhia village in Larnaca about the 1974 military coup on July 15 and the subsequent Turkish invasion on July 20 was blatantly ignored by the CyBC, implying that this sought to silence the truth and demote the issue’s significance.
“These two black anniversaries have seen our country and our people suffer much worse consequences, including a 40-year-long occupation, thousands of dead and missing, and tens of thousands of refugees,” Kyprianou argued. “And yet the CyBC felt no need to allow even a few seconds to AKEL’s views on this matter. But of course it had enough time to present the opinions of a journalist who attempted to overturn the historical truth of 1974 in other shows.”
This was a stab at journalist Makarios Droushiotis, who is currently employed at the Presidential Palace’s press office. Droushiotis recently published a book claiming the Soviet Union’s – and later Russia’s – supposed “steadfast support for Cyprus” is no more than myth, and was invited to a CyBC talk-show to discuss it.
“In other words, what is being attempted is for a tragic accident to be presented as ‘historical fact’, while historical facts may well be presented as ‘tragic accidents’,” Kyprianou quipped.
He pointed out that while AKEL seeks no favourable treatment from the broadcaster, it will not stand for the transformation of the CyBC into a government mouthpiece, and signed off the letter with a thinly veiled threat of political retribution if his warnings are not heeded.
“[CyBC boss] Mr Tsalakos and the board members should be aware that the camel’s back is broken,” Kyprianou declared. “From now on, AKEL will judge the CyBC very strictly and based on its objectivity. That will determine our stance towards the broadcaster if and when we are faced with issues regarding it.”
By Angelos Anastasiou