Strasbourg, November 15 (TASR-correspondent) – EU countries should act jointly against the imminent threat of a Russian propaganda and information war, stated Slovak President Andrej Kiska in his speech at a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
Kiska is the second Slovak president to deliver a speech before MEPs in the European Parliament after Rudolf Schuster did so in May 2001, and he’s the first president to give a speech in Strasbourg since Slovakia’s accession to the EU in 2004.
“It would be shame to let the European project fail because of our inability to halt the dissemination of hoaxes and fake news,” said Kiska.
The Slovak president pointed out that such propaganda has an impact on people’s everyday lives, spreading chaos, weakening European stability and undermining people’s trust in institutions. He praised the fact that the EP last year passed a resolution on Russian propaganda, claiming that this was “a courageous and very necessary first step”.
Regarding the rise of populism, nationalism and extremism in the EU and growing pessimism vis-a-vis the Union, the president said that leaders shouldn’t in any case underestimate this phenomenon, but he doesn’t think that there are fundamental shortcomings within the EU that should lead to “a hopeless future”.
“Let me point out where I do see our weakness in upholding the EU project … The facts speak volumes about the success of European integration. Of course, anti-European populists and extremists can’t beat us in providing solutions to improve the lives of our citizens. But too often it looks like they beat us with their limitless confidence and passion for their case. We need stronger leadership, more confidence and devotion when acting and speaking up on behalf of the EU,” he said, drawing attention to a recent joint statement by Slovakia’s top constitutional officials [himself, Parliamentary Chairman Andrej Danko and Premier Robert Fico – ed. note] in which they highlighted the country’s membership of the EU, stating that there is no other alternative than the European one for Slovakia’s future.
The president further reiterated that Slovakia wants to be at the heart of European integration, but he doesn’t like too many “unnecessary” debates on a multi-speed Europe.
He went on to say that Slovakia is in favour of the EU having more ambitious foreign and security policies. “Looking at the world today, it must be clear that the EU needs to transform itself into a more powerful global player,” he said, praising Slovakia for signing the EU security cooperation agreement (PESCO).