Public Debate: Politics of Memory. Disinformation in CEE

Disinformation campaigns often exploit the politics of memory. Societies in CEE are susceptible to communication campaigns that abuse historical facts to achieve political aims

Join the debate to discuss the uses and abuses of politics of memory in CEE. The event is organised jointly by Res Publica Nowa, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies on Nov 9th in Marzyciele i Rzemieślnicy on Bracka 25 in Warsaw at 6:30 PM. Admission free.

As reports and analyses continue to show, Central-Eastern Europe (the Visegrad 4 and the Baltics) and the Balkans remain vulnerable to hostile influence, both domestic and foreign. With deep social contusions, cultural ties pulling sections of society toward the West, East, and South; the war in eastern Ukraine and hybrid threats (including disinformation and propaganda) faced by the countries, the region is once again a frontline against hostile influence seeking to undermine the current order and stability.

The most recent example of such problems was the attempted coup in Montenegro, which exhibited all the characteristics of an aggressive foreign influence campaign. However, other less reported issues are also fermenting in the region. These risks range from ISIS recruitment and Wahhabist influence; to media influence from Russia, and Iran; to networks of criminal gangs exploiting kleptocratic political and business leaders. With varying degrees of Euro-Atlantic membership and aspirations, and widening gaps in democratic governance, their position has become precariously on the edge of the European and US attention span.

Welcome by: Thomas Garrett, Community of Democracies. Between 1994 and 1997, he supported reformers and democrats across the world with his work at the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports democracy, civil society, women and youth political empowerment and democratic governance in more than 80 countries. Over the past 23 years, he directly led more than 325 training programs across the globe on topics relating to political participation.

Keynote speaker: Marcin Napiórkowski, University of Warsaw, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Polish Culture. The author of many publications on semiotics, contemporary mythologies and memory studies, including three books: “Mitologia Współczesna” (“The Contemporary Mythology”, Warsaw University Press 2013), “Władza Wyobraźni” (“The Power of Imagination” Warsaw University Press 2014) and “Powstanie Umarłych” (“The Rising of the Dead”, Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, 2016).

Moderated by: Brian Whitmore, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He is the author of popular Power Vertical blog, written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers, and the host of the weekly Power Vertical Podcast. His work has appeared in leading Western foreign affairs media, including The Atlantic, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and Newsweek, and he is frequently sought out to provide political commentary, including CNN, the BBC World Service, and NPR.

Briefing by:
Adam Lelonek, Centre for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis, Analyst. The Columnist, journalist and commentator working with Polish and Ukrainian media. He is a Co-author of recommendations for the governments of the Republic of Poland and Ukraine in mutual relations and analyses about propaganda and disinformation in Poland and Ukraine.
Miriam Lexmann, International Republican Institute, former Slovak diplomat. In her latest publications and lectures, she captures various causes of disinformation and its eroding impact on liberal democracy.
Marcin Napiórkowski, University of Warsaw, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Polish Culture.
Wojciech Przybylski, Foundation Res Publica, the editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight – a magazine focused on Central Europe. Previously editor-in-chief of Eurozine – magazine representing a network of European cultural journals with the office in Vienna.
Roman Shutov, Detector Media. The author of more than 30 scientific and analytical articles, and the first detailed research on Russian propaganda in Ukraine. In 2015, he participated in the creation of the Conception of Information Security of Ukraine. He is Programme Director at the Kyiv-based think tank Detector Media (formerly the NGO, Telekritika). His fields of expertise are psychological influences (propaganda), soft power, national information security and media reforms.

The debate is the first in a two-part series (Warsaw and Belgrade) hosted by the International Republican Institute’s Beacon Project and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies. The Warsaw debate is inspired by freshly launched Polish-language Res Publica Nowa issue, which focuses on the politics of memory in Poland and Europe from the historical and sociological perspective as well as explores memory analogies (“Pamięć i bezpieczeństwo” – Memories and security).

The event is part of the Warsaw Security Forum, the aim of which is to bringing together European NGOs, think tanks and activists to share experiences and exchange of methods and means in the context of wider geopolitical strategies and concepts in fighting disinformation and, in this respect, closing gaps in democratic governance.

The debate seeks to analyse the weaknesses of our democracies through the prism of disinformation and other ‘related’ threats to democratic governance exploited by domestic or foreign actors via disinformation which currently represent some of the main triggers of destabilisation.

By establishing dialogue between civil society experts from the Balkans, Baltic States, Visegrad Four, and other regions of Europe, the series will provide a platform for the exchange of best practices from abroad and highlight local concerns and intricacies. The chosen topic is of importance since, although they have similarly complicated historical and social ties to both the East and West, the Balkans are often not considered as “front-line nations” and are thus frequently overlooked in the discussion about hybrid threats.

For this reason, the project attempts to include the hitherto neglected region among the European representatives of civil society organisations addressing the new threat to our democracies. Lessons learned from the Baltics, V4 and the rest of the Europe (including the EaP countries, mainly Ukraine) will be presented through dialogue. The objective of this project is to bridge gaps between the regions and provide a framework for future cooperation on the subject of disinformation and destabilizing hostile influence more broadly.

The debate is part of the Raising awareness on the threat to Central-Eastern Europe and the Balkans organised by the Beacon Project of the International Republican Institute and the Wilfried Martens Centre, as well as the Warsaw Security Forum 2017 Week.

Event organisers: Res Publica, Beacon Project (International Republican Institute), Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies. Partners: Visegrad Insight, Pulaski Foundation, European Academy of Diplomacy, Warsaw Security Forum.

The debate will be live streaming on our Facebook fan page.

Res Publica Nowa