Strasborug 08.03.2022 Disinformation is an endemic and ubiquitous part of politics throughout the Western Balkans, without exception, the Members of the European Parliament underline. “The Kremlin and its outlets are systematically lying about the situation, about the military situation and about the suffering of the Ukrainian population. They claim systematically that the Ukrainian authorities are bombing their own citizens or provoking nuclear incidents in order to blame Russia. Systematically, these kind of news are being spread. Also, the alleged “Russo-phobia” that the state-affiliated media report on is another thing that people in Russia listen to. Let me say once again, our measures are against the Russian leadership, not against the Russian people, and the current situation is a result of President [Vladimir] Putin’s actions. And if he wants, he can solve it by just stopping the war” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while addressing the European Parliament Plenary, Strasbourg.
A mapping of the disinformation and counter-disinformation landscapes in the region in the period from 2018 through 2020 reveals three key disinformation challenges: external challenges to EU credibility; disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of disinformation on elections and referenda. While foreign actors feature prominently – chiefly Russia, but also China, Turkey, and other countries in and near the region – the bulk of disinformation in the Western Balkans is produced and disseminated by domestic actors for domestic purposes.
Further, disinformation (and information disorder more broadly) is a symptom of social and political disorder, rather than the cause.
As a result, the European Union should focus on the role that it can play in bolstering the quality of democracy and governance in the Western Balkans, as the most powerful potential bulwark against disinformation.