Disinformation and fake news widespread in the Western Balkans

Photo: pixabay

TRIESTE –  Disinformation and fake news are a problem in the whole region of the Western Balkans, concluded the participants of the 4th Regional Conference on Security Challenges in the South East Europe (SEE), organised by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and taking place in Trieste today.

According to Euractv.rs, speakers at the panel dedicated to the issue of disinformation concluded that the reporting of the mainstream media in Serbia and Republika Srpska is particularly worrying.

“The main problem in Serbia is the mainstream, the most influential media – five, six most influential dailies and five, six television stations are pro-government, supporting (President Aleksandar) Vučić and his Serbian Progressive Party. There is no impartial journalism in most public space,” said a journalist of investigative platform KRIK Marija Vučić.

She also said that the spreading of fake news is intentional, and that the problem is not about non-professionalism or unplanned mistakes, Euractiv reports.

According a journalist from Bosnia and Herzegovina Emir Zulejhić, two leading agencies in Republika Srpska – RTRS and SRNA – are the main sources of disinformation in that entity.

He said that numerous media outlets from neighboring countries were spreading misinformation regarding BiH, and that out of 29 media outlets that were classified as the biggest misinformers in a research done by his organisation, 15 were from Serbia and 14 from BiH.

Representative of the MOST organisation from North Macedonia Rosana Aleksoska said that since the change of government in the country in 2017, “manipulations have been transferred to the internet” as the country now has a democratic government.

Aleksoska said that the fake news in North Macedonia has most recently been related to claims against NATO, the Prespa Agreement with Greece and the loss of Macedonian identity and language.

Other topics discussed at the conference were migration and regional cooperation. Valerio Valenti, Prefect of Trieste and Robert Popovski, Minister in charge of Communications, Accountability and Transparency from North Macedonia also addressed the participants.

For the first time, this Regional Security Conference gathered students and professors from Universities of Trieste and Ljubljana, thus setting the trend of inclusion of academic community in the holistic approach in dealing with security.