January 19, 2008
Limassol, CY (View on map)
Intending to write a story about news coverage in Cyprus, I am quite surprised to find the quote `Turks out of Cyprus!` on the front page of one of the country`s leading newspapers. Source of the quote: Cypriot tennis player Marcos Baghdatis, engaged in anti-Turkish chants with a group of supporters after he got kicked out of last year`s Australian Open. Moving images of the incident only recently submerged on YouTube, and they dominate today`s headlines in Cyprus.
Turkish interest groups in Australia have tried to disqualify Baghdatis from this year`s Australian Open, especially after his refusal to express regret. The Hellas Fan Club, a Greek supporters club involved in the scandal, claimed that `the Turks out of Cyprus chant is directed towards the well-documented illegal occupation of Cyprus and not towards citizens of the Turkish ethnic minority` and said no apologies were to be expected.
Artemis (25) says that potential opinion makers should be wise and refrain from expressing such simplified view points, `even though most Cypriots would agree with him.` Artemis explains that many Cypriots do not in the least agree with the Turkish occupation of the North. Artemis himself has never crossed the border to see the other side. `At first, we were not allowed. Now, I am not prepared to show my passport to see my own country. I don`t want to visit my own country as a refugee`, he says.
The `Cyprus dispute` keeps surfacing in the news, and the subject grows even more sensitive in preparation of the presidential elections on 17 Febeurary. Nine candidates, including the incumbent president Papadopoulos, are running to become Cyprus` next leader, and each one of them has distinct ideas about how the Cyprus dispute should be solved. Victoria (27, photo) is skeptical about how much influence the Cypriot elections will have. `We are now depending on other countries to come to a solution. All decisions about Cyprus are now taken by the European Union, there is nothing left for a Cypriot president to decide.`
Earlier today, the candidates officially appeared in front of the election commission to confirm their candidacies. The event is widely covered by the press, mainly because of the fees the candidates have to pay to inscribe (1200 euros) and which eight (!) witnesses they selected to approve their candidacy. One candidate, Stavros Mestanas, missed the 12 o`clock deadline and will only be able to run for president during the next elections.
Beside the presidential elections, a handful of other subjects dominate the news. Prices of petrol, currently about 1.05 euro per litre of unleaded fuel, are rising higher than they have ever before. Oil companies, government officials and owners of the numerous petrol station across the country, they all blame each other for the upward spiral in petrol prices. European Central Bank president Trichet, visiting Cyprus to join the Euro celebrations, warned that not only prices of petrol but also those of other products should be kept under firm control `in order for Cyprus to take full advantage of its new currency`.
The European Union is also exercising pressure on Cyprus to rethink its position on another issue: Kosovo`s independence from Serbia. Cyprus and Greece have so far been unwilling to consider recognising Kosovo as an independent state, hence making it impossible for the European Union to reach unanimous agreement. The acceptance of Kosovo`s expected declaration of independence is seen by Cyprus and Greece as a possible precedent for the North of Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots in the North also declared independence from Cyprus in 1983. Their Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was never recognised by any nation except Turkey. Cyprus and Greece fear that recognising Kosovo`s independence will force them to grant Turkish Cyprus the same status. It leads no surprise that Cyprus` main national newspaper O Fileletheros quotes Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that a separation between Serbia and Kosovo would be both illegal and immoral.
Having access to international news is not very difficult in Cyprus. Local newspapers are sidelined by Greek, Russian and English ones. Main headline for the English boulevard press: 777 Hero named Coward, referring to the co-pilot who successfully crash-landed a Boeing 777 at Heathrow Airport last Thursday. The accident is all over the British newspapers but gets no mention in Greek-language newspapers.
Local/international daily newspaper Cyprus Mail does mention the accident. It wonders how engine failure could have struck the 777, known to be one of the safest models in civil aviation. Cyprus Mail further addresses the death of chess icon Bobby Fischer, the outbreak of diseases in Naples because of excessive waste accumulation, the enduring violence in Kenya and a proposal by German authorities to introduce parental leave for young grand-parents.
Although the presence of international news sources is abundant, many locals stick to local news papers in Greek or do not try to access the news at all. Most local news is about politicians talking about the same things over an over again. Only international channel Euronews seems to taken for a serious and useful source of news. Everything else that matters is more likely to pass from mouth to ear: social gossip, football results and the latest price of petrol, no Cypriot really needs a newspaper to stay up to date.Author : Bruno