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XXVI Open Society Forum "Europe at the Crossroads: Civil Society, Media Literacy and Resilience in Europe"

Nordic Hotel Forum, conference room Sirius

Over the past two decades, the fundamental values upheld by liberal democracy in Europe have faced significant threats, largely due to scientific and technological advancements. This has led to a fundamental shift in how our society perceives truth, particularly evident in the proliferation of disinformation. The decline of traditional media and the rise of social media have played a pivotal role in this transformation. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the issue, giving rise to an "infodemic." Additionally, the Russian aggression in Ukraine has fueled a disinformation campaign, manipulating facts, undermining common sense, and exploiting societal divisions to impede the European response. Central and Eastern European countries face specific challenges in this context, with still vulnerable institutions, limited media freedom, and rule of law concerns, making them particularly susceptible to Russian disinformation efforts.

The XXVI Open Society Forum will delve into the nature and extent of the problems associated with disinformation, while also highlighting the specific transnational and national dynamics at play. The Forum will explore potential solutions, approaches, and tools required to effectively counter disinformation. Emphasis will be placed on the crucial role of civil society, as well as the delicate balance between combating malicious disinformation and upholding free speech within a democratic framework.

Register HERE until October 9

Simultaneous translation into Estonian and English will be provided.

Additional information and media inquiries: Jete Aljasmäe, jete@oef.org.ee

The XXVI Open Society Forum is funded by the Active Citizens Fund and the European Union in the framework of the project “CoviDemocracy in the Baltics”.



The preliminary agenda of the Forum (The OEF reserves the right to make changes in the program):

12:00-13:00 Registration and welcome coffee

13:00 – 13:30 Opening of the Forum:

  • Welcome address by Mall Hellam, Executive Director of the Open Estonia Foundation;
  • Welcome address by Vivian Loonela, Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Estonia;
  • Keynote speech by H.E. Kaimo Kuusk, Ambassador of Estonia to Lithuania, Ambassador to Ukraine 2019-2023.

13:30 – 15:00 First panel discussion "State of Play: Fake News, Disinformation and the War Against Ukraine" (in English, simultaneous translation into Estonian will be provided)

The first panel will engage in a comprehensive discussion on the mechanics and objectives of disinformation, exploring its spread and operation. Topics of focus will include the emergence of the new disinformation ecosystem, the influencers behind it, and their impact on public opinion, with a particular emphasis on the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region in the aftermath of Russia's war against Ukraine. The panel will also examine the reach, goals, and societal implications of disinformation. The panel will provide an overview of the current situation of fake news and disinformation in CEE, as well as in the wider European and global contexts during the ongoing conflict. The impact of disinformation on democracy and civil society activism will also be discussed.

Speakers: Nikola Tulechki, Co-Founder and Data Scientist, Data for Good, Bulgaria; Marcel Kiełtyka, Member of the Board, Analyst, Communications and PR Specialist at the Demagogue Association, Poland; Inga Springe, Co-Founder and Investigative Journalist at the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism Re:Baltica, Latvia. 

Moderator: Raul Rebane, Communication Expert, Estonia

15:00 – 15:30 Coffee break

15:30-17:00 Second panel discussion “Disinformation and Resilience in Estonia” (in Estonian)

The second panel will address the critical issue of disinformation in Estonia and explore effective practices to tackle it. More specifically, the focus will be on the role of civil society and the media in countering disinformation and in increasing the resilience of citizens and institutions to information attacks. The panel will discuss both existing best practices as well as innovative approaches that have medium to long term results, such as fact-checking initiatives, deepfake detection and civic education, that contribute to increased media literacy and help to protect and inoculate democracy.

Speakers: Holger Roonemaa, Head of the Investigative and Fact-Checking Desk, Delfi, Estonia; Andra Siibak, Professor of Media Studies, Tartu University, Institute of Social Studies; Ilmar Raag, Strategic Communication Expert.

Moderator: Margo Loor, Trainer and Moderator at Speaksmart.

17:00-18:00 Reception