SMIDGE project hosted a panel discussion on disinformation as part of the work package 6 on creating the counter narratives of the SMIDGE project led by the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS). The panel was hosted in the framework of the 2nd edition of the Kosovo Peace and Democracy Summit (KPDS), organized jointly by Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS), New Social Initiative (NSI) and Sbunker.
Panel V - Truth vs. Disinformation: Combating Malign Foreign Influence in the Western Balkans
Combating malign foreign influence in the Western Balkans is a multifaceted challenge that involves various aspects of information, security, diplomacy, and societal resilience. Due to its geopolitical significance and historical complexities, the Balkan region has been a target for various forms of external interference, including disinformation campaigns, political manipulation, and efforts to undermine stability and democratic processes. The issues we will focus on during this discussion include key indicators of foreign malign influence in the Western Balkans; the role that fact-checking organizations and media literacy programs play in countering disinformation and propaganda campaigns originating from foreign actors; and cybersecurity measures and strategies that the region should adopt to protect critical infrastructure and systems from foreign interference, including cyberattacks.
Some of the questions that this panel will examine include:
1. How is foreign malign influence in the Western Balkans manifested in practice, and how we can effectively identify such practices?
2. How can fact-checking organizations and media education contribute to countering disinformation and propaganda campaigns?
3. With respect to cybersecurity, what specific measures should the Western Balkan governments prioritize to protect critical infrastructure and systems from foreign interference, including cyberattacks?
4. What cooperation initiatives can or should be pursued to address and deter malign foreign influence in the Western Balkans, especially in relation to the EU?
Members of the panel:
• Ana Marija Ivković, Editor-in-Chief, Alternativna
• Bardhyl Jashari, Executive Director, Metamorphosis Foundation
• Darko Brkan, President, Zašto Ne (Online)
• Jeton Mehmeti, Chairperson, Kosovo Independent Media Commission
• Moderator: Fitim Gashi, Project Manager, Sbunker