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Our View: Cyprob-neutral glossary no suppression of free speech

IN last Sunday’s issue of Simerini newspaper there was a headline claiming the Committee for Journalistic Ethics (CJE) was “Forging history and gagging journalists”. The report about this alleged outrage referred to a committee of Greek and Turkish Cypriots experts that was preparing a glossary of words and phrases relating to the national issue that would be acceptable to both sides and not antagonise the other side.

But the newspaper and later Sigma TV, which belongs to the same media group, claimed the words and phrases included in the glossary would be imposed on journalists, concluding that this would be a blow to the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. Several lawyers and journalists were asked to give their views and they all agreed that the glossary would “falsify history” and constitute a violation of the constitution, which safeguarded the right to free speech.

On Monday most of the hard-line parties also took a stand against the glossary as a form of censorship and censured the CJE for undertaking this initiative. Predictably, rejectionist journalists, lawyers and parties seized the opportunity to take the moral and patriotic high ground by making a big issue out of something they knew little about, betraying their eagerness to destroy any initiative aimed at promoting a basic level of cooperation between the two sides.

The funny aspect this is that neither the paper, which broke the story, nor the people that expressed their vehement opposition had seen the glossary they were so passionately protesting about for the simple fact it has not yet been made public. Furthermore, the CJE, which Simerini credited with this undertaking, had nothing to do with it. The list of terms was the idea of the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as was the initiative to put together a team of experts from both sides to draft it.

As for the idea that journalists would be forced to use the proposed words, where did that come from? Has anyone said that a law will be passed imposing a vocabulary of political correctness? How will freedom of expression be suppressed by a glossary that journalists have no obligation to use? The reality is that the people that want to preserve division have decided to demonise this attempt to introduce a less emotionally charged and bellicose vocabulary in the Cyprus problem discourse because they want to maintain hostility between the two sides.

And the greatest irony is that these defenders of freedom of expression are trying to suppress the publication of the glossary by presenting its drafting as a national crime, before they have even seen it. It is difficult to believe such closed minds are concerned about freedom of expression.


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