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OpinionTales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: The war of words over words

File photo: Teachers' protest

OUR POLITICIANS and journalists must be thanking the Almighty for the publication of the notorious Glossary for Journalism in Cyprus, as it offered them with a wonderful excuse to fly into a self-righteous rage and display their bravery in word warfare, in which they always triumph.

It was also a good opportunity for them to make use of the super-patriotism glossary, which had been severely under-utilised after the end of Turkey’s violations of our EEZ. The lack of any action in the Cyprob in the last year also contributed to the glossary falling into disuse.

Only the glossary’s adjectives, ‘provocative’ and ‘unacceptable’, always deployed to describe statements made by ‘Ankara’s puppet’ Mustafa Akinci, remained in use during this rather slow period. There were also countless ‘illegal visits’ by Turkish officials to the occupied areas but this term, like the use of pseudo, is part of everyday speech and is almost affectionate.

The attacks on the Glossary, which was organised by the OSCE, funded by Germany and the Netherlands and drafted by members’ of the journalist unions of the two sides with the help of a British hack, were a return to the good old days of nationalist hysteria and patriotic preaching spiced up with a healthy helping of xenophobia.

Dr Theocharous’ Solidarity noted that foreign governments had funded this initiative, which aims at “the Greeks of Cyprus suffering a lobotomy and accepting a treacherous solution” and “the enslavement of Greeks.” The writer of this text is too patriotic to have suffered a lobotomy, but he almost fooled me.


THE AWARD for the most over-the-top reaction went to Phil, which, in its Wednesday edition had all its three leading columnists lambasting the “glossary of shame and offence” and disparaging the GC journalists’ union for co-writing the attempt at “removing occupation from our vocabulary.”

Giorgos Kallinikou, must have come close to combusting when writing his column, in which he bravely slammed Harlem Desir, the OSCE representative on Freedom of Media, for having the nerve to present the glossary. Such was his fury he did not realise that his column could have been taken for a parody by anyone unaware of his super-patriotic credentials. He wrote:

“You would not have dared to present it (glossary) on the day the sultan, dictator and barbaric conqueror of my country set foot on our sacred land. A few days before the black anniversary, on which Attilas, the Turkish invader, imposed occupation and sowed disaster in my country. So that he could bring in loads of settlers, create a pseudo-state, with puppet leaders, pseudo-ministers, pseudo-government and an occupation regime….”


MY GOOD friend Alecos Constantinides pointed out the rank hypocrisy of Phil’s word warriors in his Alithia column on Friday, reminding us that, before it was closed down, the Phil-owned English language paper, Cyprus Weekly, had entered a “strategic agreement” with the Turkish Cypriot paper Havadis to adopt a similar glossary.

The Weekly “used this glossary for months, avoiding words such as occupied area, occupation and phrases such as occupation leader and Ankara’s puppet,” wrote Constantinides and added: “This is why I consider a provocation the fact that all these courageous columnists, who kept quiet when the newspaper of their group implemented the monstrosity (glossary), have had their outburst now, ex post factor, now that the Weekly is no longer published. Before they put up with the monstrosity in their own house.”

There were commercial reasons for not objecting to the glossary back then, but now these have ceased to exist so the columnists are free to let loose their fury.


THE MEDIA lynch-mob have directed their rage at the leadership of the journalists’ union (ESK) for co-writing the “monstrosity”. Kallinikou wrote “it does not bear thinking about that Greek Cypriot hands were found to co-write this monstrosity.”

It was quite clearly a case of treason, even though many of the accusations of the lynch-mob were false. For instance, the Glossary notes that no alternative words were agreed by the traitors for “occupation”, “invasion”, “pseudo-state, pseudo-minister, pseudo-police” etc, so how had these words been removed our vocabulary, as the patriotic hacks claimed?

Rationality is not one of the strengths of the media lynch mob. This may be why it did not occur to the defiant word warriors that while they were bravely pontificating about defending their right to free speech and insisting the glossary should be trashed, they could have displayed double standards. Were the guys who wrote the glossary not entitled to exercise their right of free speech, in proposing the voluntary use of alternative words regarding the Cyprob discourse? To be fair, the Dalai Lama was the only politician who dared to make this point.

Meanwhile, the lynch mob has always tried to impose the words hacks must use regarding the Cyprob and the use of its patriotic glossary is compulsory, because freedom of speech must be safeguarded.


YOU HAVE to admit that it was amusing how an initiative by the well-meaning OSCE Representative on the Freedom of the Media was labelled a violation of free speech by the members of the Kyproulla media and an attempt to lobotomise us by one of our MEPs.

It was also inevitable that Prez Nik felt obliged to take stand on the glossary monstrosity in an interview he gave to the CyBC, because he felt this would increase his popularity. He said he was annoyed that the whole initiative was under the umbrella of the OSCE and it was “a mistake to say occupation was not occupation,” even though nobody said this.

The chairman of the hacks’ union had said that the Prez had been informed about the plan to draft the glossary and gave his approval. Once he saw the reaction, he pretended he had nothing to do with it and sided with the lynch mob.


MY APOLOGIES for boring you with the glossary, but the Cyprob did not gather the momentum we were hoping for after its resurrection, while the Sultan’s (Phil glossary) illegal (CyBC glossary) visit to the north (OSCE) was very short and uneventful. He did not even visit the new super-mosque as had been originally planned.

Some said this was at the request of Ankara’s puppet, occupation leader (Phil) Akinci, who did not want the spread of Islam in the occupied areas (CyBC) publicised. I find that very hard to believe. A day before his arrival was his inauguration as the democratically elected dictator of Turkey, it is highly unlikely he would have granted such a request from the puppet. A more likely explanation was that he did not have time.

Meanwhile, the police special force put together in order to arrest the sultan for his illegal visit and bring him before justice, was not allowed to cross to the occupied area by the pseudo police.


THE EXPULSION of two Russian diplomats by Greece over suspicions of interference in domestic affairs, did not get much coverage in Kyproulla. The champions of Mother Russia relegated its importance, with Phil burying the story on its inside pages and the CyBC putting it towards the end of its television news, lest Ambassador Osadchiy called to complain.

Another two diplomats, it was announced, had been blocked from entering Greece. Greece’s Kathimerini daily which broke the story said that the diplomats had allegedly tried to undermine Athens’ deal with Skopje over the name of the Republic of North Macedonia. Russia’s government was furious with the deal because it opened the way for Macedonia to join Nato. Immediately after it was signed, foreign minister Nicos Kotzias met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who made Moscow’s objection to the deal very clear.

The expelled Russians had tried to encourage public opposition to the Macedonia deal by allegedly bribing officials and seeking the help of a monastery to organise protests. No more details were given, but one can only deduce the Russian interference was on an industrial scale for the Tsipras government, known for its servility to Moscow, to take action.

Greece’s left-wing government is worse than Cyprus when it comes to defending Moscow’s interest in the EU, voting against sanctions and advocating a softer line regarding Russian aggression in the Ukraine. We hope the cooling of relations will not affect Russia’s principled stand on the Cyprob.


KYPROULLA will never be faced with the same problem as Greece, because our government has a long-standing open invitation to Moscow to interfere in our affairs. This is why ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy struts around like a governor, regularly asked to give his views on local issues by the CyBC and the local Tass, also frequently interviewed by Phil.

Stan the Man, as he is known in diplomatic circles, regularly tells us what type of settlement to the Cyprob we should accept and often meets with the rejectionist party leaders to assure them that Moscow fully backs their rejectionism, as a matter of principle. At least the interference in Kyproulla’s affairs by Mother Russia takes place openly and honestly, with our politicians and official more than happy to do as they are told.

You only have to see the way our attorney-general’s office has been turned into a branch of the office of the Russian Federation’s Director of Public Prosecutions to realise that Moscow’s open interference in our state affairs is not just tolerated but it is welcome.


WHEN COSTAS Chambiaouris was appointed education minister, our establishment wrote some less than flattering things about him. We would like to take everything back, even though he has not renounced his Paphite origins.

An education minister who succeeds in angering all the teaching union bosses, has them threatening strikes in September and motivates more than a thousand public school teachers to get off their asses and come to Nicosia to stage a protest against him in 40 degrees heat, deserves our respect and warm applause.

Teaching union bosses, accustomed to having a minister that obeys their diktats, have been so shocked by Chambiaouris’ ballsy attitude they are on the radio shows every day heaping abuse on him and claiming he is not showing them respect. What they really mean is that he is not obeying them like his predecessors. They are now demanding his resignation.

The only worry is that the fickle Prez Nik is regularly swayed by public sentiment and although he has backed his minister for now, it would only take a critical newspaper article in Phil for him to hang Chambiaouris out to dry.


ONE OF the criticisms levelled against Chambiaouris in the past – our establishment was guilty of it – was that after assuming his duties he had a meeting with Elam. But Elam are soft-hearted liberals compared to the men running the teaching unions, who have displayed their fascist mentality in all its glory in the last couple of weeks – issuing threats, blackmailing, misinforming and mudslinging.


WE HAVE no shortage of fruitcakes on our hot and sticky island. Apparently the CyBC has been inundated with calls from them wanting to be in the studio commenting, as pundits, on today’s World Cup Final between France and Croatia.

Throughout the tournament fruitcakes, either wanting to pose as football experts or to get their face on the box, have been calling the corporation’s sport’s department volunteering their below mediocre services as pundits. The mayor of Strovolos has appeared for three different matches and not because he was such a sensation that the corporation kept inviting him.

For tonight’s final dozens have called wanting to be on the show. Former Disy deputy and ex-football coach Andreas Michaelides, called the CyBC’s top brass to beg them to put him on the show, but we do not know whether his pleas worked. We shall find out this afternoon. Just bear in mind that the fruitcakes, who will bore you and ruin your World Cup Final experience, may have even used the president in order secure a spot in the studio to selflessly share their football wisdom with us.

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