Simonas Kairys invited EU ministers of culture to unite in prevention of propaganda which supports Putin’s aggression

Date

2022 03 08

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The Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys, who is attending the informal council of the European Union’s ministers of culture in Angers, France, has signed a joint declaration regarding the situation in Ukraine together with other EU ministers that are responsible for culture, the audiovisual field and the media. By invitation of the Council’s chair France, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko also attended the meeting remotely.

“Today, not just Ukraine, but also we, the entire EU, are experiencing an attack which has been inflicted on us by Putin’s criminal regime. The EU is flooded with Russia’s military propaganda and disinformation in which the truth becomes a lie and a lie becomes the truth. This poisons the minds of our citizens and weakens our resilience, solidarity and empathy with Ukrainians – our neighbours who are suffering today”, Simonas Kairys noted during his speech.

He congratulated the EU-level decision to ban the activities of RT and Sputnik, but emphasised that Russia’s and Belarus’ state propaganda and disinformation are not limited to just these television channels. “Remembering the letter of 3 March, which I signed together with colleagues from Estonia and Latvia, I encourage the banning of the rebroadcast of other television channels that are funded by the regimes of Russia and Belarus and the comprehensive protection of Europe’s information space from military propaganda, disinformation, and incitement of hatred against Ukrainian people. Instead, we should broadcast more Ukrainian television channels”, Lithuania’s Minister of Culture claimed, drawing attention to the fact that there are other media outlets of Russia and Belarus, such as newspapers or online websites, that are established in the EU and beyond its borders and that also spread military propaganda and disinformation; therefore, actions should be taken regarding them as well.

According to Kairys, it is necessary to strengthen the anti-disinformation measures as well as the critical thinking and media literacy of EU citizens.

“In this obviously hybrid war, when military aggression is supported by military propaganda and disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks and other nonconventional means, we must also be aware of the soft power measures through culture which are exploited by the Russian Federation. We agree that Russia’s state-funded initiatives must be banned from the main international cultural events in Europe. We also agree that cultural figures, the flag-bearers of Russian or Belarussian propaganda machine, must not end up in our cultural institutions or our cultural space because their actions are not compatible with European values and the spirit of dialogue”, the Minister of Culture said, observing that, at the same time, Russia’s participation must also be banned from all possible international, European and regional formats.

The declaration signed by the ministers strongly condemns the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine and expresses respect towards Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence. It emphasises that democratic values, including freedom of creation, cultural diversity, freedom of expression, media freedom, and free movement of artists and cultural professionals are shared values of the European Union and Ukraine.

The declaration recalls that, in its resolution, the United Nations Security Council emphasises “that unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, and the looting and smuggling of cultural property in the event of armed conflicts (…) and the attempt to deny historical roots and cultural diversity in this context can fuel and exacerbate conflict and hamper post-conflict national reconciliation” and that “attacks against sites and buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, or historic monuments may constitute, under certain circumstances and pursuant to international law a war crime and that the perpetrators of such attacks must be brought to justice”.

In the declaration, the EU member states’ ministers of culture expressed solidarity with Ukraine’s state institutions and the Ukrainian people, particularly with artists, journalists and cultural and media professionals, and stated that they are prepared to support them comprehensively.