VerityCon2023, the largest conference on freedom of expression in the Western Balkans, kicked-off tonight in Tirana.
Organized under the auspices of the Western Balkans Fund, with the support of the Embassy of Japan to Albania and the International Visegrad Fund, VerityCon23 connects over 60 leading experts, journalists, civil society representatives and policymakers from the WB Area, V4 countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungari and Slovakia).
Welcoming the guests, the Executive Director of the Western Balkans Fund, Dr. Murra, underlined the importance of focusing on the truth and combating disinformation at every cost.
REMARKS OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GJERGJ MURRA, AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Honorable friend, Ambassador Takada,
Excellencies, Ambassadors, and representatives of the diplomatic community,
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the VerityCon23 International Conference, the largest conference of the year in our region, focusing on freedom of expression.
For three days, this conference will serve as a platform for open discussions among many distinguished stakeholders, with an emphasis on fostering the right to freely express ideas in relation to combating false information, misleading content, and deliberate falsehoods, including impacts from external sources.
VerityCon2023 will attempt to address all these pressing issues and encourage open and honest discussion, brave and lucid ideas, and innovative and out-of-the-box solutions.
I am confident that there has never been a better time to speak about the importance of the truth.
In the troubled time we are living in since the Russian Aggression in Ukraine, and due to the exponential rise of propaganda and the proliferation of fake narratives promoted often by third, malign entities, the need for true and verified information is not only obvious but vital.
This is exactly what we aim to do at this Conference. Explore and recommend new ways on how to best navigate the disinformation era.
Without going further, I would like to wholeheartedly thank the Embassy of Japan in Tirana and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for supporting our attempts to shape a better future, a future built on cooperation and reconciliation.
Special appreciation to Ambassador Takada, who is attending his last joint activity.
Dear Ambassador, the contribution Japan is giving toward the democratization and development of our region is greatly appreciated by all of us.
I am confident that the remarkable cooperation established during your tenure will continue to have long-lasting effects for many, many years to come.
Sincere appreciations to the International Visegrad Fund and the governments of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia for their support.
I would like to inform you that only half an hour before the start of this ceremony, the Western Balkans Fund and IVF signed a new Memorandum of Understanding, aiming to solidify a solid partnership started since the day of our existence.
I am confident that this document will be the basis of enhanced cooperation, bringing even more benefits to our stakeholders in the Western Balkans and the V4 countries.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank our founding fathers, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, for the ever-increasing support provided to our Fund.
Without taking much time, I would like to remind you that our advocacy events started back in 2019, with the Civil Society Summit.
Year after year, we have progressively done more and more, and 2023 is the first time that we will have two large international conferences within a year.
As a matter of fact, VerityCon follows the hugely successful Unstoppable Conference on women and leadership that took place earlier in February.
This is the best testimony to the continuous growth, not just of the Fund, but of the idea that we represent—the idea that cooperation lies at the foundation of change and the foundation of a better future.
Concluding my remarks, I would like to share my expectations for this conference through a famous quote from a Human Rights Prize winner, Vaclav Havel: “The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.”
I truly hope that through reflection and by taking more responsibilities to act decisively against misinformation, VerityCon will make a long and lasting contribution.