Western Balkans Fund News/Events News/Events Day 3 Report | Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Communication
News/Events VerityCon 2023 - Navigating the Disinformation Era

Day 3 Report | Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Communication

The concluding panel of VerityCon23, an International Conference, concentrated on strategies to combat disinformation and chart a way forward in this challenging era.

Valbona Sulçe, a seasoned journalist serving as the moderator, prompted the discussion on potential solutions. Milan Antonijevic, a Human Rights Lawyer, emphasized the necessity of governmental support in addressing this issue seriously. He stressed the need for a unified effort involving all stakeholders.

Reflecting on the origins of recognizing disinformation, Lura Pollozhani, a researcher from Graz University, noted its prominence during events like Trump’s presidency and Brexit. She highlighted the shift in perception: from assuming occasional misinformation to realizing its substantial impact on decision-making based on accountable knowledge.

We started noticing the problem of disinformation more with Trump and Brexit. Up to that point, we genuinely thought there is disinformation and of course, some voters will not be all the time well-informed, but at the end we believed it would have still been a proceed based on at least some accountable knowledge

Lura Pollozhani

Regarding regional dynamics, Pollozhani highlighted the use of disinformation as a tool to bolster domestic legitimacy. Quoting Professor Klein, she emphasized the potency of information and the danger posed by disinformation.

Berat Buzhala, a renowned journalist from Kosovo*, identified the Kosovo-Serbia instability as a primary source of disinformation in the region. He expressed the challenge of operating in an environment where patriotic duty often aligns with misinformation, asserting that resolving this divide is pivotal in curbing disinformation.

Dragan Stavljanin from Radio Free Europe posed critical questions about the effectiveness of regional cooperation and its impact. He highlighted the ongoing ethnic disputes and attributed their persistence to a culture of impunity.

It is especially hard to operate in an environment when most of the people thinks is a patriotic duty to lie on behalf of your country than to tell the truth. I believe that until we reach a settlement between Serbia and Kosovo, our political divide will continue to be the main source of disinformation

Berat Buzhala

Referencing Bertolt Brecht, Stavljanin highlighted the reluctance in the Balkans to address internal wrongdoings openly.

In terms of potential solutions, Antonijevic underscored the European Union’s pivotal role. He stressed the importance of engaging with politicians actively and seeking alliances while cautioning against fragmented responses.

Brecht said: Lets others said about their shame, I will speak of mine. But in the Balkans, we are shameless, unwilling to speak about the people own wrongdoings

Dragan Stavljanin

Miroslav Hyrmam emphasized the urgency of implementing available tools swiftly to match the agility of those producing disinformation using technological advancements.

The panel’s insights underscored the multifaceted nature of combatting disinformation, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts, swift action, and a comprehensive approach.

One of the most important aspect is to speed up the implementation of the tools that are available. People that are producing disinformation are much faster and agile in using technological innovations

Miroslav Hyrman

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ opinion on Kosovo declaration of independence.

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