Before it was converted into a propaganda outlet of the presidency and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) was a state-run news broadcaster. When TRT reported on an event, no one could doubt for a second the accuracy of the way it was presented. Thus, not only was it reporting news, it was also shaping the perception of the public.
Be it during the war in the former Yugoslavia territories, the Armenian aggression on Azerbaijani territories, such major developments elsewhere, or election campaigns at every corner of Turkey, collaborating with colleagues from TRT was prestigious, and often the person heading the TRT team covering those events was someone thought highly by all members of the profession. It was inconceivable to think TRT reporters would pick details of a development according to the liking or expectation of the government, regardless of the extent of the events.
The state-run Anadolu Agency, likewise, was very keen on its independence, though very much like the TRT was a “public agency.” In 1997, this writer was awarded twice with bonuses at the order of a prime minister for outstanding performance on reporting in Israel, Jordan and Palestine during the visits of the premier and the foreign minister. The same writer was fired in June, the same year, when he refused to report a story written by the press advisor to the premier, serving the political interests of the lady premier - but based on forged facts. So sad to see now that the very same agency, whose director Hüsamettin Çelebi was enraged with jokes of his colleagues that the AA was a “semi-official” agency, has now become a propaganda tool of the government.
The TRT and the Anadolu Agency proudly reported that the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives, after a lengthy and rather tense session, annulled the earlier legislation ordering schools to commemorate the anniversary of the 1950 plebiscite on union with Greece (enosis). It was stressed that the ruling Democratic Rally Party (DISI) of President Nikos Anastasiades and the communist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) defied all pressures, did something unprecedented, achieved a correction to the enosis commemoration legislation…
Wrong… Terribly wrong… A grand deception… Not only the 1864 and 1967-dated enosis resolutions of the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives remain intact, the legislation enacted Friday evening was not correcting in any way the earlier legislation of the commemoration of the enosis plebiscite at secondary schools. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı wanted to leave behind this discussion. Ankara wanted to get the talks resumed. Thus, an effort by the Greek Cypriot leadership to go around the issue rather than eradicating it all together was wanted to be seen by the Akıncı team and Ankara as something precious.
The TRT and the Anadolu Agency, however, must have sufficiently qualified personnel at their Cyprus offices and at the news desk in Ankara to make a correct assessment of the development and realize that what was done in squabbles at the Greek Cypriot legislature Friday evening was to take the power of deciding what days to be commemorated at secondary schools from the legislature and give it to the education minister. Yes, the minister might decide this year not to commemorate the enosis plebiscite’s anniversary, but the legislation making it a day to be commemorated will stay there.
What was criticized and considered incompatible with the spirit of federation talks was Greek Cypriots passing a legislation adorning the 1950 plebiscite as one of those few days to be nationally commemorated. If the 1950 plebiscite was the mother of the EOKA attacks on Turkish Cypriots, if the event can only make Turkish Cypriots remember past heinous and aggressive atrocity campaigns by their Greek brothers on themselves, how could the two people of the island continue working on forming a common future under a federal roof?
Can it be a great achievement now accepting to return to talks without a proper correction, a formal apology for the last door banging, and getting assurances that the four freedoms Greek Cypriots and other EU nationals would have in Northern Cyprus the day the agreement is signed, will be enjoyed by Turkish nationals, which is naturally limited to Cyprus?
According to some pundits in Northern Cyprus, who have devoted their entire lives to serve Greek Cypriots any settlement under any condition, it will be a great achievement. But, it is difficult to understand why Anadolu Agency and the TRT were involved in such a systematic and premeditated deception campaign?
Officiousness is always a problem, but may become very stinky if it is done by shallow people.