By Loucas Charalambous
THE TALKS have not begun yet but the hysteria against a possible agreement has already become a daily phenomenon. The public climate is starting to be reminiscent of the period that preceded the April 2004 referendum. Many of the protagonists are the same but some new saviours have also emerged.
Among these is the state broadcaster CyBC whose behaviour is provocative. It is obvious that specific employees of the corporation have joined the rabid propaganda campaign against the prospective bizonal federation. By promoting the idiotic slogans of Papadopoulos, Lillikas and Sizopoulos, CyBC employees are using their shows and ‘news’ reports to display their rejectionist sentiments and poison public opinion. There were two examples I noticed recently.
About three weeks ago, a two-hour daily radio show hosted by a female presenter, posing as an expert on all issues under the sun (she is even an authority on medicine), was turned into a vehicle for anti-federation propaganda. Her guests were two female warriors against federation who for two hours urged the audience to oppose the talks, reject the federal settlement and fight for the supposed liberation of Kyrenia.
The show, of course, was taking calls as well, thus giving the opportunity for an assortment of naive, ignorant and simple patriots to go on air and express their admiration for the two female freedom-fighters.
The second example related to the main evening TV news show on Saturday, May 16. This featured a dubious news report that claimed Mustafa Akinci had fooled us over the abolition of the ‘visa’ needed to cross to the north and that in reality ‘nothing has changed’. And to prove this discovery by a CyBC reporter, there were interviews with a few super-patriots who had supposedly tried to cross north for the first time, using the Ledra Street crossing point. They changed their mind and stayed south when they realised that ‘nothing had changed’ – they were asked to show ID and their details were taken down.
The presenter was intent on playing up these lies and of course did not take the trouble to set the record straight by explaining what had actually changed. Akinci had promised that people would not have to fill in the form that was subsequently stamped with the stamp of the ‘pseudo-state’. This was what bothered many Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriot leader had explained.
This was the measure that Akinci had announced and this measure was enforced. But the CyBC, calculatingly, did not mention this, distorting events in the crudest way. Showing an ID card is the right thing to do and it is correct for the authorities to keep the details of those crossing north. The same is done – correctly – by our police when Turkish Cypriots cross south.
As we know, criminals on the run have managed to move through the checkpoints and avoid arrest. It is possible that people visiting the other side might go missing. Is it not right for the authorities to know where they were beforehand
The worst aspect of the CyBC report, however, was the stand taken by government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides who was recruited by the presenter to comment on the complaints. Instead of putting things in perspective, explaining that Akinci had indeed kept his promise to scrap the ‘visa’ form with the TRNC stamp, what did he say? He added petrol to the fire lit by the CyBC.
He confirmed the nonsense heard in the report, saying three times “we shall keep an eye on how things develop and if the need arises we will act accordingly.” The impression he gave was that there was a problem with Akinci’s promise and the government would “act accordingly.”
All this, because he feared upsetting the protesting super-patriots who, as they admitted, had never crossed north in the past and therefore did not know what procedure had been followed.
Surely, if President Anastasiades is sincere about his commitment to finding a settlement he should sort out the CyBC and his spokesman.