Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica: Disinformation campaigns seek to weaken Latvia’s position internationally

02.09.2018. 09:08

Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, took part in the annual Dubrovnik Forum held in Croatia from 31 August to 1 September 2018. The Parliamentary Secretary contributed to a discussion which analysed the resilience of the European Union and its Member States to fake news and disinformation campaigns. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined that disinformation campaigns targeting Latvia in order to cause conflicts sought to undermine the country’s international position, the credibility of society, the state and democracy.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that disinformation and manipulation with information were polarizing society. There are daily attempts to manipulate public opinion. The purpose of disinformation campaigns is not to make the public believe in an alternative reality – it is to cause division and conflicts, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica pointed out. She added that opponents to liberal democracy inherent in the Western world aimed at applying the ancient principle of “divide and rule”. On a daily basis, we encounter efforts to interfere with our undeniable belonging to the Euro-Atlantic alliance, noted the Parliamentary Secretary.

Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica highlighted the existence of independent media and the media literacy of the population, building of a strong civil society and the reduction of inequality as vital factors in the fight against disinformation. The discussion focused in particular on the need for supporting the functioning of strong, free and independent media. The Parliamentary Secretary presented Latvia’s experience: to raise awareness of media literacy among the general public, Latvian schools devote increasing attention to media literacy, and an environment of independent and pluralistic media is promoted in the country. Latvia’s support for the work of the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence is an example of that.

Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica noted that in the context of fake news it was important to distinguish between two separate problems. One problem is fake news aimed at earning clicks from the online audiences with scandalous headlines so as to gain profits. A problem of another level is disinformation campaigns with a political agenda – to create divisions in society, undermine democracy and influence governments or election results, underlined the Parliamentary Secretary.

Other speakers in the panel included: Giles Portman, Head of the East Stratcom Task Force, EEAS; Katarzyna Pisarska, Director of the European Academy of Diplomacy; Srđan Darmanović, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro; Eitvydas Bajarūnas, Lithuanian Special Ambassador for hybrid threats; and José-Manuel Lamarque, a journalist at Radio France.

This year’s Dubrovnik Forum focused on strengthening resilience in Europe and its neighbourhood, as well as on discussions about challenges posed by migration, terrorism, climate change and an array of asymmetric threats that are increasingly testing Europe and the wider Mediterranean area at the political, security, economic, social and cultural level. Solutions were sought to strengthening the capacity of countries and the EU to face crises and hybrid threats.



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