Disinformation affects many Western liberal democracies. It undermines public trust in important values of free societies, the institutional frameworks of the European Union (EU) and NATO, civil liberties, different minorities, and the market economy. Disinformation activities derive primarily from populist advocates of authoritarian solutions, including the Kremlin regime.
In this context, populist conspiracy narratives in the Croatian political context may also be relevant for a broader EU and NATO framework.
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The article describes the context of disinformation and populism, the EU and Croatian policy to counter disinformation, the Croatian political context and mentions certain examples of disinformation.
Policy solutions for Croatia and the European Union could include counterintelligence measures focused on detecting, confronting, containing, and downsizing this issue, all in line with the EU policy framework. While Croatia has started to develop its institutional structure and tackle disinformation by fostering media literacy, there is still an open space for a comprehensive policy direction, which could include nongovernmental and the private sector, and create a multidisciplinary policy network.
Such an inclusive solution would foster voluntary cooperation and a strong civil society, instead of restricting freedom of expression. This article represents the first Croatian initiative in the liberal policy direction.
Understanding is Disinformation and Populism
Disinformation is false or misleading information, which if left unverified, has the potential to sow confusion in public dialogue, political polarization and distrust of the political system and democratic institutions.1 It can also be used to question the existence of the European project2. Moreover, as European Commission’s Vice President Věra Jourová framed it: most disinformation activities aim to “blur lines, polarize, make us indifferent”. Moreover, it shall be borne in mind that: “Democracy is not given, and we have to fight for it if we want to preserve it”3.
1 Atlantic Council, Disinformation. Available [online]: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/issue/disinformation/
2 European Commission (2018) “Action Plan Against Disinformation”, [in]: JOIN(2018) 36 final; Available [online]: https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/action_plan_against_disinformation.pdf
3 Jourová, V. (2020) Dinsinfo Horizon: Responding to Future Threats, a conference paper.
Available [online]: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_20_160