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Our View: The 2004 policies of intimidation are still prevalent in some quarters

Anna Andreou

THE JOURNALISTS’ union was correct to come to the defence of the CyBC’s Turkey correspondent Anna Andreou who was targeted last week by Diko MEP Costas Mavrides, a man who specialises in publicly intimidating anyone who does not share his super-patriotic, hard-line views on the Cyprus problem. The union condemned Mavrides’ “unethical and unjustified” attack, pointing out that journalists “cannot be ridiculed and shamed just because they are doing their job.”

Mavrides, who has built a political career by attacking people and parties that do not meet with his exacting patriotic requirements, implied that Andreou was a mouthpiece of president Erdogan because “she has not been subjected to any type of persecution by the Erdogan regime, which imprisons hundreds of other journalists on the suspicion of having different views.” As if this childish logic was not bad enough, he also questioned her integrity, claiming that “perhaps she is unaware of the mass crimes committed today by the Erdogan regime against Turks, Kurds, Alevis and others.” Her biggest crime, according to the super-patriotic MEP, was that in 2004 she “passionately backed the Annan plan.”

It appears that Mavrides is attempting reviving the political bullying of that era, during which the Papadopoulos government had divided the country into patriots and traitors. After all, there could be an agreement in a few weeks and one way of defeating it is by intimidating people that might support it. The positive outcome of this sorry affair was that Mavrides, responding to the union’s announcement and criticism he had received on social media, issued a half-hearted apology saying it was not his intention to offend the journalist or to imply that she was a mouthpiece of the Erdogan regime. Better still, the Socialists and Democrats Group of the European Parliament, to which he belongs, publicly distanced itself from his views.

This was a clear message that the political bullying and witch-hunts of the Papadopoulos era belong to the past. There are still, however, institutions that sympathise with Mavrides’ politics of intimidation. The state broadcaster, CyBC, for whom Andreou is the Turkey correspondent, showed its support for the MEP by having him as a guest on its lunch-time news show on Wednesday. The corporation’s news bosses and journalists were quite clearly on the MEP’s side even though he had tried to intimidate one of their colleagues. The presenter, a fellow-traveller of Mavrides, did not even think it appropriate to put his guest on the spot by asking about his appalling questioning of the professionalism and integrity of a fellow CyBC journalist.

There is solidarity among the super-patriots, who have complete control of the CyBC. It is depressing that the taxpayer is paying in excess of €20 million every year to be informed by journalists that have the same mindset as Mavrides.

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