European Parliament adopts MEP Fotyga’s report on Stratcom
Today in Strasbourg MEPs voted in favour of Anna Fotyga’s (ECR, PL) report on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties. 304 voted in favour, 179 against.
The report underlines that hostile propaganda against the EU comes in many different forms and uses various tools, often tailored to match EU Member States’ profiles, with the goal of distorting truths, provoking doubt, dividing Member States, engineering a strategic split between the European Union and its North American partners, paralysing the decision-making process and discrediting the EU institutions and transatlantic partnerships, which play a recognised role in the European security and economic architecture.
The European Parliament recalls that one of the most important tools used is incitement of fear and uncertainty in EU citizens, as well as presenting hostile state and non-state actors as much stronger than they are in reality and notes that other authoritarian regimes around the world are using strategies similar to those developed by the Kremlin. The Russian Government is aggressively employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks and special foundations (e.g. Russkiy Mir), multilingual TV stations (e.g. RT), pseudo news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik), cross-border social and religious groups, social media and internet trolls to challenge democratic values and divide Europe.
The Parliament calls on the EU institutions to recognise that strategic communication and information warfare is not only an external EU issue but also an internal one, and voices its concern at the number of hostile propaganda multipliers existing within the Union. The EP is concerned about the limited awareness amongst some of its Member States that they are audiences and arenas of propaganda and disinformation.
“Russian propaganda uses tools which are ideally tailored to the needs of its addressees. With these tools Mr Putin presents himself effectively as the only defender of Christian values. With its hostile Stratcom, the Kremlin strives to divide Europe, gain internal support and to create an image of the falling states in the eastern EU neighbouring countries”, Mrs Fotyga says.
The document points out that Kremlin is financing parties, political organisations and individual politicians both those extreme-left and extreme-right. “With endeavours to impose its hegemony in the Central and Eastern Europe, the Kremlin often uses historical arguments and falsifies facts. The Russian Federation presents them as those belonging to the traditional Russian sphere of influence. All these activities are aimed at weakening their sovereignty”, Mrs Fotyga says.
The report widely tackles the issue of hostile southern propaganda. “Stratcom of the so-called Islamic State is aimed not only at justifying acts of terror targeted against the West but also at radicalising the youth and recruiting new fighters”, stresses Mrs Fotyga. The report includes several initiatives aimed at strengthening the EU and societies of the Member States against hostile actions of Islamists, pointing out also the education dimension. It also stresses that propagation of radical Islam is theologically improper. The European Parliament calls for more engagement in counteracting radical education systems and strengthening the position and better recognition of the main Muslim Imams who proved their credibility in counteracting propaganda.
The Parliament appealed to the relevant EU institutions and bodies for precise monitoring of the financial sources of anti-European propaganda.
The report refers also to the necessity of strengthening the quality of journalism. The MEPs condemned systematic repressions of the independent media, journalists and social activists in Russia and on occupied territories, including Crimea since its illegal annexation. They underlined that since 1999 many journalists were killed, lost or arrested in Russia.
Furthermore, one of the recommendations of the report, i.e. strengthening of the Stratcom East within the European External Action Service was already fulfilled a month ago when the European Parliament approved the amendment proposed by Mrs Fotyga and other MEPs who worked on the report.