European journalists renew their commitment to truth and against disinformation

The EJA Congress in Greece focuses on the future of the profession in a scenario of war and crisis, and renews its positions, with Javier Fernández Arribas as vice-president
periodistas europeos en grecia

PHOTO/ATALAYAR  -   New composition of the staff of the Association of European Journalists, with the Greek president Isaia Tsaousidou, and the vice-president, the Spaniard Javier Fernández Arribas

The European Journalists' Association (EJA/AJE) has celebrated its first 60 years of life since it was formed to freely serve European values, especially as the guardian of the most important of them all, freedom of expression. It has therefore chosen Greece as the symbolic venue for its Congress and General Assembly, and more specifically the town of Eretria, located in the central part of the country, which was devastated by the wave of fires that prevented it from hosting the event in 2021. 

The 100 or so journalists, from 17 countries belonging to or aspiring to join the European Union, were able to see the significant degree of recovery of the Hellenic forests, thanks to the strong intervention actions and the aid granted by the Community institutions. 

congreso de periodistas europeos en grecia

The European Journalists' Congress also discussed the health of freedom of expression in the current geopolitical situation, where the war unleashed by Vladimir Putin has led to a sharp increase in hoaxes, fake news and disinformation, and a far from innocent emergence of nationalism and populism which, if left unchecked, may threaten the very foundations of the European Union, the only great project of free and voluntary membership in history that has been able to provide Europe with decades of peace and stability, the foundations on which it has built its undeniable prosperity. 

Following the opening address by Vera Jourová, Vice-President and Commissioner for Values and Transparency of the European Commission, several panels presented oral and graphic testimonies of the war in Ukraine, highlighting everything from the greatest known atrocities committed by the invading Russian forces to the implementation and experimentation of the most modern techniques of disinformation and propaganda using algorithms and Artificial Intelligence. A modern re-enactment of the old tools of warfare used in the last century in a much-troubled Europe. 

congreso de periodistas europeos en grecia

Conflicts in the Aegean as well as in Ukraine and Taiwan

In addition to the flare-up of old hostilities between Greece and Turkey, which have raised the decibels of threats from Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the response of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, European journalists discussed the use and abuse of digital technologies; they listened to bloggers with tens of millions of followers in Southeast Asia, especially in Taiwan and Vietnam, both in China's menacing crosshairs. And of course, they have debated in depth the situation of the media in Europe, beset by growing financial difficulties which, if not alleviated, could shake their commitment to the search for truth, the verification of sources in the face of attempts at manipulation and intoxication and, in short, leave citizens defenceless and unprotected against the wave of slogans that seek to replace thoughtful and rational voting with emotional voting. 

The special Spanish contribution

Each national section of the European Association of Journalists has also presented its balance of activities, with the Spanish section standing out as the most dynamic in terms of holding and organising events and seminars that already form part of a constant task of education, information and debate on Security and Defence, Foreign Policy, European Cooperation, Annual Awards such as the Salvador de Madariaga Awards, whose winners renew their commitment to the active defence of European values, or the Cuco Cerecedo Award, which is presented every year before Christmas by His Majesty the King, the first and only one of its kind in Spain. M. the King, the first and only Honorary President of the APE, since he accepted this appointment as Prince of Asturias. 

congreso de periodistas europeos en grecia

The APE, chaired by Diego Carcedo and whose secretary general is Miguel Ángel Aguilar, has succeeded in getting the EJA/AJE to re-elect Javier Fernández Arribas, director of Atalayar and of the programme "De Cara al Mundo" on Onda Madrid, as well as a regular contributor to the ABC newspaper, as vice-president. He will continue, therefore, for a new two-year term on the executive staff, with the also renewed Greek president Isaia Tsaousidou. 

The intense working days were rounded off with visits to nearby towns and monuments: Delphi, considered the centre of the world in the mythology of Hellenic antiquity; the Museum of Distomo, which records the total massacre carried out by the Nazis in that village on 10 June 1944, which wiped out practically the entire population of the village, considered by the Nazis to be "a nest of wolves"(partisans); Orchomenos, whose temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Scripou is considered to contain the oldest Byzantine structures and foundations, when in 874 it was known as the Temple of the Three Graces, and finally Agios Ioannis Rossos, whose basilica dedicated to St John the Russian is a replica of the one that housed the saint's body in Cappadocia, The three years of Greek-Turkish war after World War I and the subsequent Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 led to an exchange of populations between Christians and Muslims, who were forced to live from then on within the new Greek and Turkish borders. This historical episode is now approaching its centenary, and despite the time that has passed, the suspicions, hostilities and even ancestral hatreds do not seem to have subsided in the slightest.