On 8 November 2018, the Embassy of Latvia in Moldova in association with the Development and Social Initiatives Institute of Moldova (IDIS) held a seminar on “Comprehensive Approach to the Fight Against Disinformation”. Taking part in the event were experts from the Baltic Centre of Media Excellence, Solvita Denisa-Liepniece and Mārtiņš Mūrnieks, as well as the Deputy Director and researcher of the Latvian Institute of International Affairs, Kārlis Bukovskis.
In his opening remarks for the seminar, Chairman of the Administrative Board at IDIS, Igor Munteanu, congratulated Latvia on its centenary and underlined that the ability to counter disinformation under present-day conditions was one of the key elements in resilience of any country.
The Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Kristaps Purmalis, stressed in his address that it was important for Latvia and Moldova to share their experience with a view to overcoming disinformation-related challenges, special attention being paid to the strengthening of media environment and promoting media literacy and critical thinking.
In the two panel discussions, “Media Literacy and Disinformation” and “External and Internal Propaganda. How Can We Fight It?”, experts from both countries presented their experience in strengthening media environment and fostering cooperation between different actors. The seminar brought together institutional, academic and civic actors from Latvia - Baltic Center for Excellence in Media and Institute of International Affairs of Latvia and the Republic of Moldova - IDIS „Viitorul”, InterNews in Moldova, Freedom House, StopFals.md, WatchDogs.md and other, with advanced expertise in Strategic Communication and Journalism, combating of fake news, audio-visual activity, etc.
Mārtiņš Mūrnieks, whilst giving the audience an example of coordination between the public and non-governmental sectors ahead of the 13th parliamentary elections in Latvia, noted: “Successful strategic communication is built on a comprehensive approach.”
Critical thinking was highlighted as a vital facet in countering disinformation. In that context, Solvita Denisa-Liepniece mentioned one of the main challenges: the ability to distinguish true information from fake news. “Television, being the most widespread source of information, poses serious problems as it is the most difficult to debunk disinformation in that format,” said Ludmila Barba, a Moldovan TVM1 journalist. Solvita Denisa-Liepniece for her part called the attention of those present to threat caused by the use of audio-visual technologies to generate fake news.
The participants of the discussions agreed that the only way to respond to propaganda was to tell the truth. It was underlined that freedom of expression should not be compromised while seeking to deal with challenges.
The seminar was held as part of the Foreign Ministry’s Public Diplomacy Programme that marks the centenary of the Latvian state abroad. The events was organised by the Embassy of Latvia in Moldova together with the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, the Latvian Institute of International Affairs and the Development and Social Initiatives Institute of Moldova (IDIS).
A synthesis of the main conclusions and recommendations of the seminar will be made available to those interested over the next month.