Robert Fico’s government is mulling the exclusion of NGOs in the government’s plans to fight disinformation, which plans to scrap the former “non-conceptual” action plan “with elements of politicisation”.
To respond to the “apparent politicisation” of communication departments in the ministries, the government office proposes a strategic communication that excludes NGO participation.
“The new concept no longer counts on NGOs as partners for solving this issue, which means that strategic communication will be exclusively in the hands of the state, under which it was always supposed to belong,” the office’s representatives announced.
According to the Slovak government, the original document did not comprehensively address the issue of strategic communication and Slovak interests were only “marginally taken into account”.
The fight against hybrid activities and disinformation is a significant problem in Slovakia, as its citizens are among those most prone to believe conspiracies. It also neighbours war-torn Ukraine.
The newly submitted material also proposes to cancel “the Action Plan for the Coordinated Countering of Hybrid Threats for 2022-2024”, as the government labelled the document as “non-conceptual, non-implementable with elements of politicisation”.
The interior, defence and foreign affairs ministers will be tasked to draw up a new document.
In 2019, NGO Globsec warned that Slovakia is “significantly vulnerable to hybrid threats”. It identified that one of the main problems was “the insufficient strategic communication capacities” of the state institutions. The organisation praised the adoption of an action plan as one of the key steps in facing the threats.
Another issue reported by Globsec was the “lack of qualified experts” within the state administration, as they have been leaving the government service en masse after Smer took power in October 2023, many of them citing the current composition of the government as the reason.
Fico’s government, on the other hand, labelled them as “political activists” who were supposed to “make sure that Slovaks had the one obligatory correct opinion on topics such as the war in Ukraine, the EU, NATO, the migration crisis or alternative media”.
Fico and his party’s deputy chairman, Ľuboš Blaha, repeatedly use pro-Kremlin narratives, calling Ukrainians “fascists” and blaming the US for Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Culture Minister Martina Šimkovičová was also the face of TV Slovan, which is listed as a “site with questionable content”.
(Natália Silenská | Euractiv.sk)
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