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13 July, 2024
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Media's impact in Cyprus crisis: Fanning flames or offering relief?

Media's role in shaping public discourse takes center stage in uncertain times

George Kakouris

George Kakouris

A series of events in recent days, from Chloraka to Apostolos Andreas and then to Pyla, along with the disputes on social media about what is happening or not, remind us more than ever of the need for serious media that don't simply adopt official statements and don't stay on the surface of things, in the emotional and political stereotypes.

I began writing slowly on Thursday, prompted by what was written about the protests of Syrian refugees in Chloraka regarding the interruption of water and electricity supply to a building deemed unsuitable. Various media outlets sensationalized the situation in the area, and misleading photos circulated from incidents in another country. How useful it would be if the priority of the media was to speak to the directly involved immigrants (beyond self-appointed protection groups) and present the situation without racism, embellishments, or emotional influences. This would aid the discussion for the proper integration of refugees into the local community.

I wanted to compare the reactions and coverage regarding the disrespectful Turkish bus driver incident, who recorded a video with Father Zacharias of Apostolos Andreas while reciting Islamic prayers for Allah and Muhammad. Father Zacharias wasn't particularly offended, saying, "Never mind, we're blowing out candles here," before continuing his actions. However, this incident sparked reactions between both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, leading the driver to remove the video and the authorities in the Occupied Areas reporting the incident to the police.

Then came the incident in Pyla, which reminded us of how the government either lies or turns a blind eye when it talks about restarting negotiations from where we left off in Crans-Montana (with asterisks of course regarding property and political equality, but the other side returning to discussions about guarantees as they were).

The situation in Pyla is not an incident of individual disrespect for the religious sentiment of another community, like in Apostolos Andreas. It's not an incident of violating social rights of a voiceless minority, exploited by the far-right as in Chloraka. The situation in Pyla is a matter of national security, as it shapes the day after the end of the Cyprus issue.

According to the latest information circulated on Friday, including by the French Agency, during the confrontation with the peace activists who blocked the unauthorized work of the Turkish Cypriot side in the buffer zone, men from the Turkish Cypriot security forces participated with political cover.

Here, all media outlets and television channels should have carried out substantive reporting on what exactly the Turkish Cypriot side aims to achieve, how it serves the needs of the Turkish army, or even the inter-communal mafia that has exploited the buffer zone. What the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot community leaders say, and the real situation regarding the status of the buffer zone in the area, is crucial. Also, the fact that the peacekeeping force, which often takes vacations in Cyprus, has actively tried to prevent a change in the status quo.

However, what will likely dominate channels and websites is the simplification of the issue as another provocation from the villains, dressed in stereotypical expressions and emotional language. If the government chooses to magnify the issue, it will be magnified. If it chooses to silence it, it will be silenced. The problem of leaving gaps in the coverage of such serious matters will become apparent when we need to discuss what our side could do to prevent such situations and how to address them. Unfortunately, once again, most of the media will likely stay on the surface, and the order that reigns will continue to deceive us that the Cyprus we knew for the past decades still exists.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  church  |  invasion  |  media

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