The Defense Minister of North Macedonia, Slavjanka Petrovska, says that the disinformation flows in the Western Balkans point to the connection between harmful foreign influences and local actors who use disinformation narratives to destabilize the region and hinder European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkan states, reports The Geopost.
“Disinformation is not only a media problem, but also a security problem,” Minister Petrovska said at a panel discussion on the harmful effects of disinformation and ways to counter false narratives organized in Skopje by the NGO Nexus Civil Concept, under the auspices of the NATO Public Diplomacy Division.
In the forum titled “Russian Disinformation and Aggression in Ukraine: Threats, Impacts and How to Counter False and Misleading Content in the Western Balkans with a Focus on North Macedonia”, Minister Petrovska referred to the new reality in which today on European soil a European country. A sovereign, independent and democratic country is conventionally attacked and the rest is confronted with a flood of false and distorted information, the main purpose of which is to undermine confidence in institutions and in society as a whole, and to foment a sense of fear and uncertainty among citizens.
“The best response to fake news and disinformation,” she said, “is transparency and truth, as well as the consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and the strengthening of trust in state institutions.”
“In the fight against disinformation, there is no better answer than transparency and truth.” Our society must function as a single organism ready and able to fight off misinformation. We must believe strongly in our democracy and the rule of law, and be open and honest in creating a society based on the rights and responsibilities of each individual. “We must continue to build a society for all and we must be ready to accept our differences because they make us stronger,” said Minister Petrovska.
Petrovska stressed that the Ministry of Defense, as the most transparent institution in the country, is at the forefront of the fight for truth, together with the government.
Afrodita Musliu, head of the Nexus Civil Concept organization, said that Russian propaganda has been very present in the wider Western Balkans region over the past 10 years, but with the start of the invasion of Ukraine has taken an aggressive approach regional dimension.
“The weak institutional resistance to the flow of misinformation, news and inaccurate spin makes us vulnerable and easily susceptible to external influences and internal polarization aimed at creating confusion and distrust of the government, of Western values and the rise of Euroscepticism,” Musliu said.
Part of the forum were Professor Nano Ruzhin, former ambassador to NATO, Professor Nikola Dujovski, dean of the Faculty of Security, editor and journalist Vasko Popetrevski and Nenad Markovic, member of the Security Council and university professor./The Geopost/