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European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and EU Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Johann Sattler, today opened the first EU – Western Balkans conference on media literacy and the fight against disinformation. As part of the conference, panel discussions were hosted from three cities (Brussels, Sarajevo and Banja Luka) on the subjects of media literacy, fact-checking and disinformation, with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference was organised by the EU in cooperation with the BiH-based “Why Not” (Zašto ne) Association and the Association of High School Students in BiH, within the Ne Klikam u Prazno project funded by the EU with the aim of strengthening media literacy among youth.
In his opening address, the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, emphasised: “Misinformation and disinformation proliferated in the Western Balkans, in the European Union and in the whole world during the pandemic. This has been dangerous for all of us. Above all because lies about medical issues can even kill.” He stressed the importance of the work of fact-checking organisations and their partners in debunking disinformation in the Western Balkans.
EU Ambassador Sattler spoke of the significance of the conference in view of its aim to educate the public and highlight best practices in the fight against disinformation in the region:
“The EU in BiH has been working together with the fact-checking community here for a few years, who are at the very heart of the global fight against disinformation.” He stressed that effective action on preventing the spread of disinformation requires participation not only from fact-checkers, civil society and independent media, but also the authorities and regulatory bodies, adding that cooperation in this field needs to be strengthened in the country.
The conference gathered over 20 experts in the field of media and information literacy, EU and regional officials as well as activists, including Tonino Picula, Member of the European Parliament; Radmila Šekerinska, North Macedonia’s Minister of Defence; Cristina Tardáguila, Associate Director of the International Fact-Checking Network; Darko Brkan, President of the Why Not Association; Jelena Vasić, a journalist from the Serbia-based Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, “KRIK”, and many others.
This is an adaptation of an article published by the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Read the original article.