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Our View: Using sensationalist newspaper reports to score points considered fair game

Upping the provocation: Nicolas Papadopoulos

The media often try to create a bad climate – and if it already exists to maintain it – with reports designed to anger people or provoke a hostile reaction from them. An example of this practice was the report in Monday’s Simerini that was also given prominence on the Sigmalive website about the issuing of a Navtex by Turkey.

The story on the front page of the paper, under the banner headline ‘Turkish posturing outside Paphos’, was illustrated by a picture of four warships, presumably Turkish, although a flag could only be seen on one of the vessels. The strap-line read, that “part of sea to be used for exercises with live ammunition.” What was worse for the paper was that “at the time when the Special Advisor of the UN was seeking, through his contacts, to persuade the two leaders to resume talks, the Turks proceeded to a new blatant provocation.”

A look at the facts did not support the claim of a blatant provocation nor of any violation of the Cyprus Republic’s sovereignty as had been claimed. Even the Cyprus government issued an announcement saying there had been no violation of sovereignty. How could there have been, considering the naval exercise was not taking place in Cyprus’ territorial waters; it was 6.7km from the territorial waters. The paper pointed out that it was in the Cypriot EEZ over which, contrary to the misleading claims of media and politicians, the Republic has no sovereignty.

Even the claim that the exercise was taking place “outside Paphos” was a bit misleading – it was in fact 28km away. Rejectionist parties tried to make the most of this non-event, with Solidarity claiming the Turks “are threatening Cyprus in the worst possible way,” and did not accept Turkey firing guns outside Paphos.” Diko leader Nicholas Papadopoulos saw the exercise as the “upping of Turkish provocations” while the Greens felt it was no coincidence that warships were in the Cypriot EEZ.

Some even linked the exercise with the claims made last week by “military sources” in Greece that Turkey was planning an incident in June, the time when drilling by French firm Total was expected to start in the Cypriot EEZ. This rampant scaremongering, based on exaggeration and twisting of facts – “firing guns outside Paphos” – could backfire and have negative consequences for the island’s economy if anyone outside Cyprus took these reports seriously and repeated them. But it seems that using sensationalist newspaper reports in order to prove political points is fair game regardless of the harm this could cause the country.

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