Bratislava, Slovakia, 30
In a keynote speech at the opening of the conference on "Russia and Europe: Topical Issues of Contemporary International Journalism" in the Slovak capital Bratislava, Dr. Hans Köchler, President of the International Progress Organization (I.P.O.), highlighted the threats to independent journalism in the current political crisis in Europe. In his lecture, entitled "Stereotypes and Double Standards: The Role and Responsibility of the Media in a Context of Geopolitical Tension," he said that the "temptation of selective and interest-driven reporting" is much greater in a situation of conflict than in times of peace. He explained that modern "public relations" as social technique was developed as part of the mobilizing effort during World War I. The President of the I.P.O. warned of a situation in which the media is assigned the role to "manufacture consent" to an agenda or policy that is exclusively set by the government or powerful interest groups controlling the government. The media must not become part of the inventory of "hybrid warfare." The only rationale for the operation of the media, whether public or private, in a democratic polity where the rule of law prevails is the double task of (a) providing balanced information, based on facts, that will enable a person to take part in public life as a mature, sovereign citizen, and (b) contributing to education and entertainment on the basis of human dignity, not of the vested interests of economic or other groups, Dr. Köchler said. He concluded his presentation with a reference to UNESCO's earlier proposal of a "New International Information and Communication Order," stating that, in the emerging multipolar system, fair and balanced reporting, apart from a clear and unequivocal commitment to professional ethics, also means a better integration of all global regions, not only those in the industrialized world, in the production and exchange of information.
In a special message to the participants of the conference, Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, highlighted the increasing power of the media in the age of digital technology and stressed the importance of a code of professional ethics for journalism in the current geopolitical environment. Ján Čarnogurský, former Prime Minister and co-founder of the Christian Democratic Movement of Slovakia, criticized the double standards of the mainstream media in the coverage of international armed conflicts, in particular mentioning the interventions in Iraq (2003) and Libya (2011). In the first keynote session on "Self-consciousness of the media against biased news," Andrey Rikhter, Adviser at the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe / Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media (Vienna), explained the OSCE policy on press freedom and human rights, particularly stressing the illegality of war propaganda.
The conference was co-chaired by the Editor-in-Chief of International Affairs, Armen Oganesyan (Russia), and Werner Fasslabend, President of the Political Academy of the Austrian People's Party, former President of the National Assembly and Minister of Defense (Austria). Journalists, researchers, politicians and diplomats from Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Norway, Russia, Serbia, and Slovakia took part in the debates. Among the speakers were Petr Fedorov, Head of Foreign Relations at Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Company; Tatiana Naumova, Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication of the Russian Federation; and Tiberio Graziani, Editor-in-Chief of GEOPOLITICA magazine, Rome (Italy).
The meeting in Bratislava, the Vth International Conference of the International Affairs journal of Russia, was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The earlier conferences were held in Paris, Berlin, Vienna and San Marino.