Brussels, June 17, 2022
by Edward Steen, AEJ Secretary-General
The European Commission today gave the expected green light to Ukraine‘s EU ambitions – also Moldova’s. It came following high-level visits this week to Kiev, where political leaders were exposed to the realities (see below) of Putin’s lunatic war on the country, and the AEJ’s day-long press seminar in Brussels on the meaning of the war for Europe, on the future of Europe, and on signs of hope for free, serious media despite all the well-known pressures on us.
As things turned out, the meeting, held in the European Parliament, prived unusually well-timed, with both issues at the top of the agenda here.
Brilliant and often passionate politicians, experts, and reporters spoke, inter alia, on the long-overdue need for reform of European defence (“the grotesque waste of money of incompatible national weapons systems in Europe” – Guy Verhofstadt, MEP ex- Belgian PM), on the energy energy, and above all on the crucial role of free, serious media in the face of relentless waves of fake news to undermine and confuse the West in Russia’s hybrid assault on what had been a separate, independent neighbouring country.
In Russia itself, the media trying to tall the truth about the war have been closed down, this being reinforced with prison sentences up to 15 years daring to call the grisly “special operation” a war.
One of the most inspiring speakers was Peter Dukes, dramatist turned founder of Byline Times, where some of the most powerful English journalists and investigators have found refuge. Thanks to crowd-funding and immense hard work it now has a a decent-sized staff, a weekly tv programme, a festival, and the special hatred of UK prime minister Boris Johnson. Could this be the model for future free, independent publishers?
Many thanks to the EP media staff for their excellent and patient work, and for these recordings of the seminar:
Seminar programme and speakers
Press seminar organised by the Association of European Journalists
with support from the Directorate-General for Communication of the EuropeanParliament – Directorate for Media – Media Services Unit
THE WAR IN UKRAINE – WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR EUROPE?
Thursday, 16 June 2022
SPAAK building, Room 4B1, Brussels
09:00 Introduction: Isaia TSAOUSIDOU, AEJ President (left)
09:15 Othmar KARAS (EPP, AT), Vice-President of the European
09:45 Media freedom and the Conference on the Future of Europe (COFOE):
Raffaella DE MARTE (below) Head of Media Services Unit, DG
Communication, European Parliament
09:55 Four panel discussions introduced by Otmar LAHODYNSKY,
Honorary President of AEJ
10:00 Panel I: Free, independent media in the EU. Dead or alive? – Signs
of hope for established media (FT, The Economist, Deutsche Welle,
Channel 4). Success of crowdfunding in developing new and
dependable sources of news, the example of Ukraine. The plight of
media under systematic suppression by governments. The panel will
Moderator: Stelios KOULOGLOU (GUE/NGL, EL)
Peter JUKES – Founder of Byline Times
Edward STEEN, Secretary General of AEJ
William HORSLEY, Special Representative for Media Freedom of
AEJ, opens on reporting economics of it all, and new plans by META
(Facebook as was) and other Internet companies
11:00 Panel II: Ukraine and EU Defence – Has Europe acted effectively and
timely? Why not in 2014 (annexation of Crimea). Or 2008 in Georgia?
Do we need to reform NATO, or is it time to create a new European
defence system and a European army with inter-operable national
weaponry? Is Macron right to say that Putin must not be humiliated?
The dangers of allowing Putin’s expansionist aims.
Moderator: Otmar LAHODYNSKY
Radan KANEV (EPP, BG)
Hannes HEIDE (S&D, AT)
Guy VERHOFSTADT (Renew, BE)
12.00 Panel III: Media manipulation, disinformation, troll factories – Fake
News. Manipulation of Social Media and use of trolls. Cyber-warfare
and what to do about it? Was it right to ban Russia Today?
Moderator: Cecilia SUNDBERG, Media Services Unit, DG COMM
Daniel FREUND (Greens/EFA, DE)
Peter JUKES – Founder of Byline Times
Herwig HÖLLER – Austrian Press Agency (APA), East-Europe
12:45 Lunch break
14:00 Panel IV: Debate on the Future of Europe and Ukraine’s
aspirations to join the EU – How important it is for Ukraine to
become a member of the EU and how quickly can this be achieved?
Has the war in Ukraine encouraged a new “European spirit” or
recaptured some of the post-WW2 optimism and creativity? What can
we learn from the response to Putin’s war? Energy policy and
consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Moderator: William HORSLEY, AEJ
Ivan ŠTEFANEC MEP (EPP, SK)
Arnoldas PRANCKEVIČIUS, Ambassador, Permanent Representative
of Lithuania to EU, Representative of the Lithuanian Government at the
Conference on the Future of Europe
Roland FREUDENSTEIN – Vice-President of GLOBSEC and Head of
Anna YAVORSKA – Political Analyst for the Ukrainian World
Congress, Human Rights Advocacy consultant