Home » today » World » Elena Yoncheva: A society that is not well informed can easily be manipulated – 2024-02-27 20:52:12

Elena Yoncheva: A society that is not well informed can easily be manipulated – 2024-02-27 20:52:12

/ world today news/ The EU must have a way to react when journalism is threatened in a member state. The draft law on media freedom, which the European Commission proposed today, is a step towards the adoption of such a mechanism. The texts are yet to be discussed in the European Parliament (EP) and member states. This is what Elena Yoncheva, MEP from the group of Socialists and Democrats, said in an interview with BNR.

Back in 2020, I had several meetings with the European Commissioner for Values, Vera Jourova, in which I tried to convince her that a European act to protect journalism was needed. Until now, the European Commission offered the so-called soft measures – recommendations, prescriptions and left it to the member states to decide how to treat the media. The new law, which was proposed today by Vera Jourova and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, if passed, will be binding on the EU, she explained.

The introduction of clear and transparent rules for funding the media will be discussed, including the allocation of funds from the national or European budgets through the government. The goal is that this money is not used by those in power to keep the media dependent, but from there to shape public opinion to ensure their re-election. Journalists should receive protection from persecution, as well as more decent pay – these are some of the proposals that socialists and democrats in the EP will defend.

In recent years, some of the major media in Bulgaria have become a propaganda organ of the rulers, because they determine where to direct the financial flows necessary for their support. Others served only the business interests of their hidden owners. A society that is not well informed can easily be manipulated, commented Elena Yoncheva.

Disinformation has become one of the most sensitive topics in the EU in recent years, she noted. But there is actually no legal definition of fake news. There are rules in journalism – to use at least three sources of information, to cut from different angles, in a military conflict not to take the point of view of only one side, etc. But in 2003, after the military intervention in Iraq, the US introduced the concept of “patriotic journalism” – one that is tailored to the interests of the respective country only. This is another name for propaganda, recalled Elena Yoncheva, who as a journalist has covered many military conflicts around the world.

What is happening in Ukraine? Do we have a realistic picture? No, she said. According to her, there is a lack of context and analysis, the causes of the war are not sought, the causal relationships are not followed. This is dangerous, it encourages hatred and does not lead to a solution, commented Elena Yoncheva. In this way, the media and political leaders present the opponent, the enemy, as they want to see him, not as he is. This is the shortcut to the defeat of Europe.

She recalled, for example, that ten days ago she directly asked the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, whether Europe has a strategy for ending the war in Ukraine. Our task is to help Ukraine, not to stop the war. The war will be decided on the battlefield, he replied. Only a day ago he talked about a diplomatic solution.

If there was objective and in-depth coverage of the conflict in Ukraine, European leaders would be forced to seek adequate solutions on how Europe should respond. The war could have been avoided. Today we see that those who govern Europe are not able to deal with complex crises, commented Elena Yoncheva.

Real journalism is based on rules. If they become law, it will be in everyone’s interest. It’s not bad to have a clash with national governments, it’s not bad to have a “battle”, it’s about the good guys winning, she said in response to predictions that the media law would face resistance.

Asked to comment on Bulgaria’s Schengen membership and border security, she recalled that our country has fulfilled all the conditions to become part of this space. Migration has to be managed whether we apply to Schengen or not. Refugee trafficking exists because it is patronized. I saw it with my own eyes when years ago I studied how the Bulgarian-Turkish border is guarded, said Elena Yoncheva. Against this, measures can be taken at the national level. At the European level, refugees are a consequence of the problems for which Europe is also responsible, and the approach to them must be complex. That is why for years the EU has not been able to agree on a reform of the way the flows are managed.

Thanks to the EU’s roadmap for asylum reform, adopted on the proposal of Elena Yoncheva this week, the union has concrete deadlines until April 2024 in which to change the rules for accepting refugees, their integration while taking into account the burdens that assumed by each Member State or the return of illegal immigrants to third countries. These are complex issues, some of which Bulgaria has long been demanding to be resolved, so that the pressure on our borders is eased and the migrant traffic is interrupted. Now Bulgaria will have a chance to protect its national interest, as long as it is active enough.

For years, the EU has failed to reach an internal understanding on changes in the field of migration management. The first legislative proposal adopted in the last ten years by the EU in this direction was a regulation by which the former asylum office became an agency. The rules, effective from early 2022, have expanded its powers, strengthened its capacity as well as its financial capabilities. Rapporteur from the European Parliament was Elena Yoncheva.

Just ten days ago, Bulgaria signed an operational support plan with the Asylum Agency, which provides for up to 15 experts, including simultaneous interpreters, to come to our country to help welcome migrants at our borders. Additionally, Bulgarian employees will be trained.

To contact the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the EP:

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