In the last two weeks, Turkish media have gone on a disinformation campaign in their English-language services by using the Turkish names for Greek islands instead of their English/Greek names, most prominently against Kastellorizo.
It is beyond doubt that Turkey has ambitions in occupying Greece’s eastern Aegean islands – maps of this appear at Naval schools that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at, it is frequently discussed in Turkish state-controlled media, and members of the Erdoğan regime openly threaten this.
Effectively, Turkey through all its apparatuses including the media, are attempting to normalize to international audiences that Ankara has a so-called claim over these islands. They attempt this by removing the thousands of years old indigenous Greek names, and replacing them with Turkish names that were only introduced, but not widely used, through a genocidal and colonial expansionist campaign by the Ottoman Empire a few centuries earlier.
The island of Kastellorizo, internationally known by this name in Greek and English, has been one such target, with Turkish media now insisting on calling it Meis.
As part of this campaign, Turkish state-owned media has dragged Getty Images into Turkey’s propaganda efforts to try and make this island internationally known by its Turkish name of Meis, rather than Kastellorizo.
Getty Images, perhaps the most famous Stock photography company in the world, has been the target of Turkish propaganda efforts.
The Seattle-based company has unknowingly been selling images photographed by Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency, who captioned the images as Meis instead of Kastellorizo. The images which are purchasable, are advertised as Meis photographs as this is how Anadolu Agency sold them to Getty Images.
Of course we cannot expect Getty Images to know the intricate details of a geopolitical crisis in the East Mediterranean, or to know that a small Greek island of only 500 residents is having its name manipulated by the Erdoğan regime.
The actions of Anadolu Agency was first noticed by e-Amyna on Twitter, who wrote that:
“The result of the visit of Anadolu employees to Kastellorizo.
Title: ‘The people of Meis reminisce about the old days’
Photo: Minaret with a background of Turkey
Description: ‘The island of Meis is located 580km from mainland Greece and just 2.1km from Kas.'”
Το αποτέλεσμα της επίσκεψης των υπαλλήλων του Anadolu στο Καστελλόριζο.
Τίτλος: «Οι κάτοικοι του Meis αναπολούν τις παλιές εποχές»
Φωτό: Μιναρές με φόντο την Τουρκία
Περιγραφή: «Η νήσος Meis βρίσκεται σε απόσταση 580χλμ από την ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα και μόλις 2,1 χλμ από το Κας». pic.twitter.com/HHLUZfNGW8
— e-Αmyna (@e_amyna) September 5, 2020
In this sneaky attempt by Anadolu Agency, they not only sold the image to Getty Images using the Turkish name, but emphasised the proximity of Kastellorizo from the Greek and Turkish mainland, in the false belief that this somehow affects the Greek sovereignty of this island.
E-Amyna also made reference to last week’s controversy when Tourkika Nea exposed two employees of Anadolu Agency that arrived in Kastellorizo as agents of the Turkish intelligence agency, as reported by Greek City Times.
It was also discovered that Getty Images had for purchase a whole portfolio of images from Kastellorizo, but had them advertised as only Meis.
A Getty Images spokesperson told Greek City Times that they have “strict policies and standards” for their images that require approval.
“As the world’s largest licenser of imagery, we work with over 330,000 contributors and hundreds of image partners from all corners of the globe who upload and caption their images. We do of course have strict policies and standards in place to govern our photo inspectors in the inspection and approval of images that are submitted for inclusion on our platforms,” the spokesperson told Greek City Times.
“When it comes to geographical locations whose place names vary between languages, our policy is to be accurate and use the names most commonly known in English,” the spokesperson said, adding that “in this specific instance, whilst we accept captions referring to the island in its Turkish name, we of course expect all images to refer to its Greek name of Kastellorizo as well.”
“For any images where this is missing, we are adding Kastellorizo to the caption as a priority,” the spokesperson concluded to Greek City Times.
It is clear that Getty Images became an unsuspecting victim of Turkish propaganda efforts, and as of publication, has corrected all their images submitted by Anadolu Agency with the name of “Meis” island to write the islands true name – Kastellorizo.