European Digital Diplomacy Exchange Steering Board and Symposium on Government Communication during COVID-19 Pandemic begins virtually
The Centre for European Perspective, together with the U.S. Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia organized a Steering Board meeting and Symposium on Government Communication during COVID-19 pandemic. The event has been hosted via Zoom, taking place from Monday, 28 September to Friday, 2 October 2020.
At the beginning, participants were addressed by Matt Jacobs from the U.S. Department of State and Project Coordinator Ingrid Omahna from the Centre for European Perspective.
The day commenced after the introductory remarks, with a lecture by Tom Fletcher, Former British Ambassador and Downing Street Foreign Policy Advisor and author of the book “The Naked Diplomat: Understanding Power and Politics in the Digital Age”. He presented a lecture about the state of diplomacy before and after 2020, explained current trends, and pointed out 10 crucial questions to consider in order to survive as a diplomat in the future.
Ivana Boštjančič Pulko from Information Security Administration of the Republic of Slovenia continued with a session about “Essentials for Trainers”. The sharing of experience and knowledge is at the very core of the EDDE network, and as participants openly discussed with Mrs. Pulko, there is a dividing line between a good and bad trainer. Mrs. Pulko covered the theoretical essentials of a good trainer, tips and tricks that can help trainers be more confident and advise on how to engage their audience. Guest participants were engaged in an open discussion, that included their questions, challenges and a topic very close to the overall Steering board and Symposium subject, namely how can trainers adapt to the new COVID reality.
The day concluded with the EDDE Steering Board meeting where the next steps of the project were discussed.
The second day started with a lecture by prof. Corneliu Bjola, Associate Professor of Diplomatic Studies from the University of Oxford. Participants dived deep into The Digital “Dark Side” of the COVID-19 Pandemic with a focus on 5G conspiracy theory. The participants learnt the basics of conspiracy theories, how to detect and counter them effectively and what kind of impact they have on the public health system during the current pandemic.
The second session of the second day focused on the Cases of Disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic. A lecture was given by Veronika Krátka Špalková, Analyst of the Kremlin Watch Program from European Values Center for Security Policy. She focused on the Czech disinformation environment and held a detailed presentation of the context, waves and cases of disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The third and last session of the day included a presentation by Jakub Kalensky and Andy Carvin, both working at the capacity of Senior Fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab within the Atlantic Council. They presented an overview of Disinformation in the new COVID reality. As they suggested, times of crisis have always presented an opportunity/void in which disinformation can flourish, with the current pandemic being no different. The Atlantic Council is working closely from the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and has researched, analyzed, and exposed various harmful narratives worldwide.
The third day of the event started with a session by Bernd Spainer from Communications Policy & Public Diplomacy Division of the European External Action Service. Lecture focused on Strategic Communication during COVID-19 at the EU level. The next presenter was Elina Lange- Ionatamišviili, from NATO StratCom Centre of Excelence, who presented the role of StratComs during COVID-19 emergency, the issue of “infodemic” and its impact on the society in a broader sense. Last but not least, Christ Smith from EUR Stratcom Team of U.S. Department of State, talked about the role of StratCom during the COVID-19 Emergency from the U.S. Perspective.
The fourth day was dedicated to social media and their active role in digital diplomacy. The first session was held by Matthias Lüfkens, Author of Twiplomacy and Managing Director at Burson Cohn & Wolfe. Matthias explained how governments and world leaders reacted to COVID-19 on Twitter. The day closed with a group activity session about the next steps of the EDDE project.
On the last day, the Steering Board members provided an overview of how different governments have responded in relation to COVID-19.
This valuable event would not have been possible without the support of the U.S. Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia within the Official Development Cooperation instrument.