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30 March, 2023
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Diko calls for inquiry on controversial glossary

MP’s want to debate bicommunal glossary of non-politically-charged terms following public reaction


The House foreign affairs committee will discuss a controversial glossary of political terms aimed at journalists in Cyprus, following debate and criticism on Greek Cypriot social media on fears of censorship.

The glossary, which was published earlier this week, was developed by the Ethical Journalism Network, a global alliance promoting ethical conduct in the media. It is part of a Cyprus Dialogue project supported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

But two MP’s from the centrist opposition party Diko, Christiana Erotokritou and Pavlos Mylonas, raised an issue with the glossary, calling for an independent inquiry following public reaction.

According to Kathimerini Cyprus, Erotokritou and Mylonas said the glossary got some strong reaction in social and political circles, making a discussion in parliament necessary.

The glossary tries to address the challenge that many journalists in Cyprus face when reporting on stories involving the Cyprus problem

Diko president Nicholas Papadopoulos also took to Twitter to criticise the publication, citing threats against the freedom of the press. He also criticised the journalists union's leadership for what his party called a "disgrace."

The glossary titled “Words that matter: a glossary for journalism in Cyprus” was funded by Germany and Holland. It is published in English, as well as both official languages of the Republic of Cyprus, Greek and Turkish.

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists from both communities had been selected by their respective unions to participate in the project, with exchanges and visits taking place between November 2017 and January 2018.

The glossary tries to address the challenge that many journalists in Cyprus face when reporting on stories involving the Cyprus problem, both in its current division and historical past.

Many terms were identified as “sensitive” to readers of either community, prompting local journalists in the project to attempt to find mutually-acceptable terms that are less politically-charged or more sensitive.  

Glossary effort backfires

But the effort may have backfired, as people took to social media condemning the effort as a direct threat to the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

The OSCE project said on one of its websites that the “aim of the glossary is to encourage new approaches and a new thinking on difficult issues, to encourage dialogue throughout and between the media communities, while respecting journalistic independence and their freedom to report without restrictions.”

But Papadopoulos said the Republic of Cyprus and Greek Cypriot journalists who choose not to adopt the glossary will end up being put on the defensive against international public opinion.

Esra Aygin, a Turkish Cypriot journalist who took part in the effort said they were aware that the glossary would be controversial.

“This glossary is not an attempt to deny or erase the past, but a conscious effort to promote a culture of understanding between communities,” Aygin wrote on Twitter.

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