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OSCE stresses optional use of bicommunal glossary

Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

The Journalism Ethics Committee said on Wednesday it would never attempt to restrict in any way journalistic freedom of expression.

In an announcement, the committee tried to set the record straight following reactions over reports last weekend on the creation of a bicommunal Cyprob-neutral glossary for journalists to use in their reporting.

The committee said in its statement that it had no involvement in the initiative of the organisation for security and co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as regards the creation of this glossary, nor had it decided if it would get involved.

“It would never be possible even to think of limiting to a minimum and in any way the freedom of expression of journalists and the media,” the statement said.

The committee’s announcement follows the written statement to Politis by Harlem Desir, OSCE representative on freedom of the media who said the glossary is part of a project launched by the organisation under the banner ‘dialogue for Cyprus’.

After an uproar this week by parts of the media which called the glossary an attack on freedom of speech, he clarified that the bicommunal glossary prepared by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists is optional and not something to be imposed on the media.

“It is not a list of forbidden words and phrases and does not attempt to restrict journalists or anyone practising journalism from writing or preparing their report freely.”

Prepared by two Greek Cypriot journalists and two Turkish Cypriot journalists, one of the group members, Christos Christofides, said the glossary comprised some 50 words which were found to be mutually acceptable terms for journalists to use when reporting on the Cyprus problem.

The aim is to avoid tensions when reporting on the contentious issue but is by no means obligatory.

Nonetheless, Simerini newspaper which broke the story on Sunday and Sigmalive, both of which belong to Dias Group, called it a muzzling of journalists and an attempt to distort history.

The editor-in-chief of Phileleftheros spoke out against it as did broadcaster TVONE.

Christofides said the irony was that those who were vehemently opposed to it had not even seen the glossary as it has yet to be presented. This will be done in July.

Desir’s statement said the glossary was “a voluntary tool which journalists could choose to use in their day-to-day work, which I believe will encourage new approaches and new ways of thinking over sensitive topics, strengthening quality journalism on the island.”

He specified the bicommunal glossary “does not forbid any terms and there is no intention to impose anything on journalists covering the situation in Cyprus.”

A similar project was undertaken by journalists in Palestine and Israel, Desir added.



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