The Association of European Journalists in co-operation with the European Parliament’s Communications Directorate successfully organized a seminar on the war in Ukraine and its consequences for the EU. The seminar took place at the European Parliament in Brussels with the participation of MEPs, diplomats and journalists. The debate revolved around misinformation, control of the media by governments and oligarchs, and the geopolitical implications of the Ukraine war for the EU.
The Vice President of the European Parliament Othmar Karras emphasized that the EU must remain united and active as this war is not just between Russia and Ukraine but between two worlds: democracy and dictatorship, freedom and authoritarianism. Putin cannot stand the existence of a better social system at its borders. He also stressed that a religious war is raging as Russia uses Orthodoxy as a means of expansion and influence. The Patriarch of Russia wants to prevail over the other Orthodox Churches. Human rights and pluralistic liberal democracy are being fought in this war by the Kremlin regime’s aggression.
Mr. Karras also stressed that press freedom cannot be taken as granted but we must fight for it. Media freedom must be extended everywhere because proper information is the key to democracy. Citizens need to be properly informed so that they are not misled by nationalists and populists. He stressed most problems are now global such as misinformation, pandemics, climate change, the economy and refugees. These global challenges have no borders and the EU must intervene drastically. The Treaties must be reviewed and the role of the European Parliament in the legislative process must be strengthened. The Conference on the Future of Europe must continue and the accession of Ukraine, Moldova, Albania and Northern Macedonia must move forward.
The International President of the Association of European Journalists Saia Tsaousidou, after welcoming the participants, referred to the great contribution of the seminar, saying that there are many burning issues for discussion, such as misinformation, fake news, the war in Ukraine, the common European foreign policy and defense but also the future of the EU, which is our common home.
The AEJ Media Freedom Representative William Horsley referred to the persecution of journalists and the press and the role played by the Council of Europe in this area. He also referred to the “pandemic of misinformation” as well as the close control of the media by authoritarian governments and oligarchs seeking to silence the press. Multinational digital companies also control the international media. British journalist Peter Jukes, founder of Byline Times, analyzed the dependence of the media in Britain, where there is a great deal of control over information by big interests. What has been happening in Britain for six years is pure misinformation and censorship. The oligarchs control the information and there is a lot of corruption.
The MEP of the Renew Europe group Guy Verhofstadt stressed that the declaration of war in Ukraine is the beginning of a new world order similar to that of 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. The war is a milestone for a new rivalry between the empires of China, India, USA and Russia. He referred to defense spending, in which the US and China are first, while the EU is the second (along with China) in defense spending in the world but does not have much operational capacity without American support. If Trump returns, then what guarantees do we have for our defense? We must therefore strengthen the European arm of NATO and the common European defense.
The Social Democrat MEP Hannes Heide, stressed that Austria is a neutral country and does not belong to NATO and should remain so, but in close co-operation with NATO, Putin strengthened the cohesion of the EU and NATO, which acquired now a new role. The European People’s Party MEP Radan Kanev said Bulgaria was very close to war and exposed to Moscow’s hybrid war. Russian propaganda is very strong in Bulgaria through the media.
In relation to fake news and propaganda on social networks, it was stressed that the media have an obligation to check the accuracy and precision of the news. It was also stressed that there should be no fact-checking mechanisms and that when the state controls fake news, censorship takes place.
The Ambassador of the Permanent Representation of Lithuania in Brussels, Arnoldas Prankcevicius, stressed that we must now take the decisive step towards the complete independence of the EU from Russian gas, something that should have been done to it years ago. He also stressed that Ukraine’s accession to the EU is planned and there will be great financial support for the country. The political analyst at the World Ukrainian Congress Anna Yavorska said that Ukraine is constantly changing and becoming a European democracy, and that there should be EU support for further reforms in the accession process.
Overall, the seminar covered all the topics of the war in Ukraine but also the role of the media and journalists in the field of misinformation, propaganda and the war of fake news. In this war, the Kremlin is responsible first and foremost for fake and misleading news. Thus, the protection of freedom of speech is of paramount importance for the Association of European Journalists at such a critical time. However, the future of Europe will be judged by the decisiveness that the EU will show in relation to the war in Ukraine.
Photos: Βασίλης Κουτρουμάνος/ “© European Union 2021 – EP/Philippe Buissin”. © 2022 EU-EP
1. Link to the Multimedia Centre of the European Parliament: https://
Here you can find an overview of photos taken today in the seminar. These photos are free of charge, but must be credited “© European Union 2021 – EP/Philippe Buissin”. © 2022 EU-EP/initials photographer is also fine.
2. Webstreaming link for morning slot:
3. Webstreaming link for afternoon slot: