The final act of the ‘Strengthening Societal Resilience and Countering Foreign Perpetrated Disinformation in the Western Balkans’ project unfolded as a comprehensive three-day regional training held online from April 9 to April 11, 2024. This event served as a platform for civil society, media, and government representatives from the six Western Balkan countries to collaborate on addressing and combating the extensive issue of disinformation in the region.

The conference began with an address by Ingrid Omahna (CEP), setting the stage for subsequent discussions. After that, on the first day, we had experts from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Global Engagement Centre (GEC) and European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) with us. Craig Matasick (OECD) emphasised the importance of robust governance measures and institutional frameworks in safeguarding the information space’s integrity; Iva Nenadić (EDMO) talked about actionable insights for combating disinformation, and experts from GEC presented a Framework to Counter Foreign State Information Manipulation, new tool addressing the challenge of disinformation.

On the second day, the focus was on best practices to counter disinformation. The Elves, a Lithuanian civil society initiative, joined us, presenting the perspective of non-governmental organisations on disinformation. The governmental viewpoint was discussed by the Czech Centre against Hybrid Threats. The media’s perspective was discussed with Joscha Weber from Deutsche Welle. He highlighted the media’s role and the importance of responsible journalism in countering disinformation effectively. The program offered a comprehensive understanding of disinformation from diverse stakeholder perspectives. On the final day, they showcased case studies from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, addressing different aspects of disinformation. They revealed distinct challenges and strategies.

The group work sessions were a pivotal aspect of the training, providing attendees with the opportunity to engage in collaborative discussions and exchange ideas. These interactive sessions were not just about preparing national proposals to counter external disinformation but also about recognising the crucial role of each participant in this process.

Overall, the regional training was not just a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing but also a source of empowerment. Led by leading experts in the field, it equipped participants with practical tools, methodologies, and best practices to address the multifaceted challenge of disinformation effectively.

The Project Strengthening Societal Resilience and Countering Disinformation in the Western Balkans is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia through development cooperation funds.