Simonas Kairys at the EU Council of Ministers of Culture: in order to protect the European information space, additional sanctions against Russia are necessary

At the meeting of the Ministers of Culture of the European Union (EU) in Brussels, Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys supported the European Media Freedom Act, which is currently being prepared, and expressed his views on the strengthening of sanctions against Russia.

In his speech the minister also highlighted Lithuania’s continued support for Ukraine on its European path and emphasized the need to take into account the needs expressed by Ukraine itself.

The Council session presented a progress report on the European Media Freedom Act, which aims to strengthen the basic conditions for free and independent media in a democratic society.

“We are living in times of war when the European information space is under intense attack every day and every hour by Russian war propaganda and disinformation. It is also a war for the minds and hearts of our people. The purpose of the European Media Freedom Act is to make us stronger. This is a valuable tool for combating disinformation, it will serve public safety, help foster quality journalism and European democracy,” minister Kairys said in his speech.

According to the Minister of Culture, Europe must fully ensure the implementation of EU sanctions and take another step forward, i.e., to restrict the use of European satellites to rebroadcast Russian propaganda TV channels outside of Europe as well. European satellites must not be used for Russian war propaganda and disinformation in the world.

Kairys, together with the Ministers of Culture of Latvia, Estonia, and Poland, issued a call to the European Commission and member states to take more effective measures to ensure that Russian war propaganda would not be broadcast via satellites in the jurisdiction of EU countries.  “We call on the European Commission, within its competence, to seek that European satellite service providers stop broadcasting propaganda channels controlled by the Kremlin via satellites. We also call on all member states to continue to ensure full compliance with the sanctions regime,” the joint statement said.

“Our common goal is a free, strong Ukraine that has preserved its culture and history in Europe. Currently, together with other countries in the region, we aim to draw attention to the decades-long falsification of history in various formats by the aggressor Russia. Today, Russia is particularly aggressive in spreading lies, propaganda, and disinformation”, Kairys said. “Adequate assessment of Soviet crimes and the lessons learned from history must serve us in preventing the myths spread by Russia today. It is important for the world to properly assess the Holodomor committed by the Soviets and recognize it as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. Lithuania did this back in 2005,” he added.

Minister Kairys also expressed his support for the creation of a common European fund for support to the cultural sector of Ukraine. The minister informed about the fund created by the Government of Lithuania for the restoration of Ukraine and the plans to restore at least one Ukrainian cultural object from the funds of this fund.  

The EU Council of Ministers of Culture approved the work plan in the field of culture for 2023–2026, which also focuses on the protection of the Ukrainian cultural heritage. Actions on the interaction between culture and health, strengthening the role of libraries, digital transformation of the cultural and creative sectors, and cultural statistics are important for Lithuania as well.

In Brussels, Kairys also met with the Vice-President of the European Commission Vera Jourova, the Estonian Minister of Culture Piret Hartman, and the State Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Culture Dace Vilsone. Issues related to support for Ukraine, the fight against disinformation, the implementation of EU sanctions, the European Media Freedom Act, and historical memory were discussed during meetings.

Photo by Vida Gražienė