OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media explains ‘Cyprus Dialogue project’ to CNA

OSCE’s ‘Cyprus Dialogue project’ started in March 2017, following a visit to Cyprus for an event discussing challenges to press freedom both globally, and in Cyprus, Harlem Desir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has told CNA in an interview, prior to his visit on Tuesday to present part of this project.

Replying to CNA questions, Desir said that his Office was very impressed by the on-going efforts by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalistic communities to strengthen quality journalism on the island. As a result, in the following months the Office developed the Cyprus Dialogue project, to work with the unions of journalists and with the journalistic communities to promote quality journalism and mutual understanding.

Since then, the project has provided a platform for journalists to meet and discuss various issues, including the promotion of journalism standards, ethics, good governance and self-regulation in their work, he added. According to the OSCE representative, an important highlight of the project has been the exchange of fourteen young journalists, where seven Greek Cypriot and seven Turkish Cypriot journalists worked for a week at a media outlet of the other community.

The project is also coming to an important point tomorrow, when I will have the opportunity to visit Cyprus again, to open an exhibit of the work these journalists produced during their exchange and present a glossary of suggested alternatives to some sensitive words and phrases in the media, he said.

Asked to comment on a Memorandum of Understanding agreed in May 2017 between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot journalist unions and associations, Harlem Desir stressed that it was an outcome of an expert meeting his Office hosted in April 2017, in the framework of the ‘Cyprus Dialogue project’, at the Ledra Palace. The document is an impressive effort by the heads of journalist unions to formalize their co-operation and solidarity on issues of journalists’ safety, access to information, and adherence to professional standards.

Exchange of young journalists

Commenting on the exchange week of young Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists, Desir said that it has been a major highlight of the ‘Cyprus Dialogue project’. It is a remarkable initiative, which I trust will serve as a good example in other parts of the OSCE region where journalists wish to experience and share stories of life in neighbouring communities.

He said that in October of last year, he travelled to Nicosia to meet with the young journalists who were selected by the journalists’ associations. We have interviewed them at that time about their expectations, and I look forward to hearing their views of the exchange week now that I get to return to Cyprus. In case there is interest expressed by young Cypriot journalists to continue our support of the exchange, my Office will of course consider it.

Desir added that his team, together with the Home for Co-operation in Nicosia, is currently preparing an exhibit of articles and photos taken during their exchange week, which will be displayed in three languages: English, Greek and Turkish. The exhibit will start on Tuesday, 10th of July and will remain open until the end of this month.

We have also organized other exchange projects of young journalists, for instance in Vienna with young Russian and Ukrainian journalists.

Glossary

Asked to explain what the glossary he will present is all about and give some information about who drafted it, who is involved and if anything similar has been done in the past, Harlem Desir explained that is was an initiative of his Office, adding that this is the first time they are engaged in the creation of such a glossary.

The creation of the glossary of some of the phrases commonly used by the two communities which may be sensitive was initiated by my Office in October of last year, in order to provide a voluntary tool that can support journalists in their work. Its use is completely voluntary; it does not impose or restrict the use of certain words but offers an explanation of how some alternatives may contribute to a better understanding and to quality journalism, he told CNA.

It will be published as a brochure in three languages, English, Greek and Turkish and journalists may decide on whether to use it, OSCE’s representative on Freedom of the Media has said. My Office has commissioned a team of thoughtful and highly experienced media experts from both communities to draft the glossary and supported their work in partnership with the Ethical Journalism Network, a global coalition of media professionals based in London.

He stressed that this is the first time his Office has engaged in the creation of such a glossary. But we also engage in several other projects across the 57 participating States of the OSCE, to help strengthen quality journalism, media self-regulation and solidarity among journalists.

Desir said that his Office will invite Cypriot media outlets to participate in the public presentation of the glossary tomorrow and he expressed his hope that the glossary will find its way to the computer screens and desks of journalists, bloggers and anyone interested in dialogue and quality journalism on the island.

He added that it will be also available on his Office’s website, together with all elements of the Cyprus Dialogue project (www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/cyprus-dialogue).

Replying to a question, he said that he is aware that there are some animosities regarding the glossary, but I saw that the concerns were sometimes based on incorrect information.

He repeated that the glossary is a voluntary tool to strengthen quality journalism. It is non-imposing and non-restrictive. It is not intended to restrict the rights of journalists and the media to report freely. It does not even pretend that there are always alternatives to offensive wording.

The glossary simply proposes a new approach and a new thinking, he said, adding that journalists are and should always remain free to carry out their important work. If you follow my Office’s work, you can see the numerous instances when I raised my voice in protection of freedom of expression and media freedom in Cyprus, which I will continue to do in the future as well.

Asked if he believes that by changing some words the fact that Cyprus is divided as a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion can change, OASCE’s representative stressed that this exercise was not about debating historical facts. It is an effort to show how certain words are perceived in various communities. This allows us to be well-informed and make informed decisions on issues that directly affect our present.

Desir added that he is convinced that inclusive dialogues and offering platforms for more free speech, including on highly sensitive issues, will contribute to the public debate in which the media plays a crucial role.

Future projects

Regarding any future projects as the Cyprus Dialogue project is concerned, he said that they keep the doors open. We will discuss possible future activities together with the journalistic communities.

He looks forward to continuing his work with Cypriot journalists and assist Cyprus in further strengthening quality media on the island, Desir has said.

Source: Cyprus News Agency

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media explains ‘Cyprus Dialogue project’ to CNA

OSCE’s ‘Cyprus Dialogue project’ started in March 2017, following a visit to Cyprus for an event discussing challenges to press freedom both globally, and in Cyprus, Harlem Desir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has told CNA in an interview, prior to his visit on Tuesday to present part of this project.

Replying to CNA questions, Desir said that his Office was very impressed by the on-going efforts by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalistic communities to strengthen quality journalism on the island. As a result, in the following months the Office developed the Cyprus Dialogue project, to work with the unions of journalists and with the journalistic communities to promote quality journalism and mutual understanding.

Since then, the project has provided a platform for journalists to meet and discuss various issues, including the promotion of journalism standards, ethics, good governance and self-regulation in their work, he added. According to the OSCE representative, an important highlight of the project has been the exchange of fourteen young journalists, where seven Greek Cypriot and seven Turkish Cypriot journalists worked for a week at a media outlet of the other community.

The project is also coming to an important point tomorrow, when I will have the opportunity to visit Cyprus again, to open an exhibit of the work these journalists produced during their exchange and present a glossary of suggested alternatives to some sensitive words and phrases in the media, he said.

Asked to comment on a Memorandum of Understanding agreed in May 2017 between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot journalist unions and associations, Harlem Desir stressed that it was an outcome of an expert meeting his Office hosted in April 2017, in the framework of the ‘Cyprus Dialogue project’, at the Ledra Palace. The document is an impressive effort by the heads of journalist unions to formalize their co-operation and solidarity on issues of journalists’ safety, access to information, and adherence to professional standards.

Exchange of young journalists

Commenting on the exchange week of young Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists, Desir said that it has been a major highlight of the ‘Cyprus Dialogue project’. It is a remarkable initiative, which I trust will serve as a good example in other parts of the OSCE region where journalists wish to experience and share stories of life in neighbouring communities.

He said that in October of last year, he travelled to Nicosia to meet with the young journalists who were selected by the journalists’ associations. We have interviewed them at that time about their expectations, and I look forward to hearing their views of the exchange week now that I get to return to Cyprus. In case there is interest expressed by young Cypriot journalists to continue our support of the exchange, my Office will of course consider it.

Desir added that his team, together with the Home for Co-operation in Nicosia, is currently preparing an exhibit of articles and photos taken during their exchange week, which will be displayed in three languages: English, Greek and Turkish. The exhibit will start on Tuesday, 10th of July and will remain open until the end of this month.

We have also organized other exchange projects of young journalists, for instance in Vienna with young Russian and Ukrainian journalists.

Glossary

Asked to explain what the glossary he will present is all about and give some information about who drafted it, who is involved and if anything similar has been done in the past, Harlem Desir explained that is was an initiative of his Office, adding that this is the first time they are engaged in the creation of such a glossary.

The creation of the glossary of some of the phrases commonly used by the two communities which may be sensitive was initiated by my Office in October of last year, in order to provide a voluntary tool that can support journalists in their work. Its use is completely voluntary; it does not impose or restrict the use of certain words but offers an explanation of how some alternatives may contribute to a better understanding and to quality journalism, he told CNA.

It will be published as a brochure in three languages, English, Greek and Turkish and journalists may decide on whether to use it, OSCE’s representative on Freedom of the Media has said. My Office has commissioned a team of thoughtful and highly experienced media experts from both communities to draft the glossary and supported their work in partnership with the Ethical Journalism Network, a global coalition of media professionals based in London.

He stressed that this is the first time his Office has engaged in the creation of such a glossary. But we also engage in several other projects across the 57 participating States of the OSCE, to help strengthen quality journalism, media self-regulation and solidarity among journalists.

Desir said that his Office will invite Cypriot media outlets to participate in the public presentation of the glossary tomorrow and he expressed his hope that the glossary will find its way to the computer screens and desks of journalists, bloggers and anyone interested in dialogue and quality journalism on the island.

He added that it will be also available on his Office’s website, together with all elements of the Cyprus Dialogue project (www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/cyprus-dialogue).

Replying to a question, he said that he is aware that there are some animosities regarding the glossary, but I saw that the concerns were sometimes based on incorrect information.

He repeated that the glossary is a voluntary tool to strengthen quality journalism. It is non-imposing and non-restrictive. It is not intended to restrict the rights of journalists and the media to report freely. It does not even pretend that there are always alternatives to offensive wording.

The glossary simply proposes a new approach and a new thinking, he said, adding that journalists are and should always remain free to carry out their important work. If you follow my Office’s work, you can see the numerous instances when I raised my voice in protection of freedom of expression and media freedom in Cyprus, which I will continue to do in the future as well.

Asked if he believes that by changing some words the fact that Cyprus is divided as a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion can change, OASCE’s representative stressed that this exercise was not about debating historical facts. It is an effort to show how certain words are perceived in various communities. This allows us to be well-informed and make informed decisions on issues that directly affect our present.

Desir added that he is convinced that inclusive dialogues and offering platforms for more free speech, including on highly sensitive issues, will contribute to the public debate in which the media plays a crucial role.

Future projects

Regarding any future projects as the Cyprus Dialogue project is concerned, he said that they keep the doors open. We will discuss possible future activities together with the journalistic communities.

He looks forward to continuing his work with Cypriot journalists and assist Cyprus in further strengthening quality media on the island, Desir has said.

Source: Cyprus News Agency