UN has ‘no comment’ on language used by journalists

The UN has no comment on what language journalists use, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq has said.

According to a transcript of Friday’s daily press briefing, Haq was replying to a question about a glossary issued by the organisation for security and co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on the Cyprus problem and whether the UN agrees that journalists should avoid using the words “Turkish invasion and occupation”.

“Yes, regarding that, as you’re aware, the organisation for security and co-operation in Europe is separate and apart from us, so we wouldn’t have any comment about any suggestions or reports that they have put out,” the UN official said.

Obviously, he said, “it’s for them to comment on that.”

He added that regarding the UN’s use of terms and nomenclature regarding Cyprus, “you can see from our own reporting, including the Secretary-General’s many reports over the course of this dispute, the language that we use and that is our preference.

“Of course, we have no comment on what journalists themselves would use.”

Despite that the OSCE representative on freedom of the media has said on several occasions that the bicommunal glossary prepared by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists is optional and not something to be imposed on the media, there has been great reaction by some media outlets which called the glossary an attack on freedom of speech.

President Nicos Anastasiades too voiced his opposition to the glossary arguing that his primary issue was that the OSCE was the body behind the glossary. “If it was something made between journalists, it is their right. You are involving an international organisation to determine that the invasion is not an invasion, the occupation is not an occupation and the properties (of Greek Cypriots in the north) aren’t being trampled on.”

He had said that there are basic human rights and UN resolutions that make clear references to these matters.

Replying to another question on whether the Cyprus problem is still an issue of invasion and occupation since 1974 or whether something has changed as regards the UN statements, Haq said that “as you’re aware, this is an issue which we are leaving to the parties to resolve.”

“The UN has played a part in talks on Cyprus over the years and you’ll have seen what our position has been,” he added.

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