2017 DEMOCRACY DEFENDER SEMINAR


AMBASSADOR FREDRIK
LOJDQUIST: Hello– it works. Everyone can hear me. Warmly welcome to D Day– Democracy Day, here
at Schwedenhaus, the Swedish embassy,
and Swedish delegation to the OSCE in Vienna. And we are extremely
happy that so many of you have been able to join us
here, and come here today. My name is Fredrik Lojdquist,
I’m an ambassador of Sweden to the OSCE. And I’m very happy to bid
you welcome to this building, with quite a long
history, but I will not bore you with that now. But I’m also very
happy on behalf of a number of OSCE
delegations countries who organized these Democracy
Defenders events today. We will start with the Democracy
Defenders seminar, which will start in a
couple of minutes, and that will be followed by an
awards ceremony of handing out Democracy Defender Award,
which will take place at around 12 o’clock. Just some practical
arrangements– there are a limited number
of seats here, so some of you might have to stand. If you see people
who will look more in need of a seat than
yourself, maybe we can switch, and so forth. This event will
be live-streamed– this is a transparent,
open, and inclusive event. And I assume, also,
that one can watch it on YouTube, or something
like that afterwards. That means, also, that
everyone who speaks should have a microphone
in front of him/herself, so also those not in this room
can follow these events today. As I mentioned, the
Democracy Defender Award is an initiative– it is
the second year we do this, that first year was last year. And it’s an initiative of a
number of OSCE delegations here in Vienna, in
alphabetical order– Canada, Denmark,
Montenegro, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United
Kingdom, and the United States. And we do this together,
with the OSCE delegations of Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria,
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Latvia,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Poland,
Romania, and Ukraine. So you can see it these are,
all in all, 22 OSCE delegations, and representing a very
wide geographical range, from Mongolia to Canada and
United States, the whole OSCE, and from north to south. And I really want to
point out that this is very much a collective
effort of all these delegations mentioned here. We’re happy, as I said– I’m very happy that
we can host us here on the Swedish premises,
but this is, in no way, a Swedish event. So it’s a collective
effort of all of us. And I think we’re all
facing challenges. I mean, one of the
points of these events is to highlight and discuss,
and not only analyze, but to find ways forward,
but challenges to democracy, and how can we defend
democracy in these days. And I think this becomes more
and more topical by the day, as we see various
kinds of challenges to democracy in the OSCE area. For the seminar, we
have chosen the topic of protecting human rights,
fundamental freedoms, and space for independent voices
in the face of rising authoritarian populists. And I think populism
is very much discussed all over the place right now,
and it’s blamed for everything. But here today, we will
try to have a deeper look to understand what
is this populist, and what is the character of
this threat, and also ways forward, how we
can counter this. I think we can say,
without any hesitation, that populism is
something that all of our countries in the
OSCE region are faced with. This is not something particular
to small or bigger countries, to countries east or west of
Vienna, or north of south– this is a common challenge
that we are challenged by. And we are very happy to
have a star panel here today, who will take us off
in this discussion. And then, of course,
the discussion will be open for all of
you, and we very much hope for an
interactive discussion. On the panel from
left to right, we have Lotte Leicht live
Human Rights Watch, and she will also be moderating
the discussions here today. You have the long bios
in the program, which I hope that all of you
have got, otherwise you can get it outside. But Lotte Leicht
is very well-known, not least for her work with
the Human Rights Watch. And publicly known from media
and social media, and so forth. Next to her is Edward Lucas,
among many other things, senior editor at The
Economist, and someone who has been covering Central
and Eastern Europe for a very, very long time, and
has written extensively about these things– in articles, but also
of a number of books. And next to him is Daghan
Irak, researcher from Turkey, based currently in Strasbourg. And you’ve been working as a
journalist, and a media critic, and you are at the University
of Strasbourg right now. And last but not
least, to the right, is Mr. Balint
Josa, from Hungary, working at something
called Subjective Values, and very much involved in the
combating of discrimination in various forms, and
has been a program coordinator for the United
for Intercultural Action, and also been
involved, especially works in [INAUDIBLE] cultural,
and political issues. So please, Lotte will
kick off the discussions in half a minute,
but also just, we will go on to about
a quarter to 12, and then you are all
welcome to go back outside and you will be served
something to drink, and also I think there’s tea,
coffee, and juice for everyone who wants to grab something,
meanwhile, to stay awake. Then we will
rearrange this room, and then we will reconvene
at about 12 o’clock for the awards ceremony. And we are very glad to have–
we will talk more about that later– the representative of Golos
Movement, Mr. Lurii Gurman, who’s sitting right there,
and also last year’s prize winner, award winner,
Oleksandra Matvyichuk, who will also hold
a speech to Golos. But at around 12 o’clock,
we will reconvene here for the awards
ceremony, and there will be much more about that later. And there’s also, for
representatives of media here, there will
be an opportunity to meet the prize
winner of this year, last year, any one
of the panelists, and also, if you can,
perhaps, most easily come to gather in the library,
after the awards ceremony, but maybe around 12:30,
something like that. Lastly, as I’ve
mentioned several times, this is very much
a collective effort of a number of delegations
and ambassador colleagues, and other colleagues
in our delegations here who have made
this possible, strongly engaging in democracy. But I do want, and
especially on this day, make a special
mention of a person without whom this would
not have been possible. The one coming up with this
great idea, and the one who has not seen the problems,
obstacles, or hurdles all through this, but
seeing all the possibilities and opportunity to do this. And this is my parting U.S.
colleague, Daniel Baer, please stand up. [APPLAUSE] Who, for political changes
in the U.S. administration is working one of his
last days here in Vienna, and will leave as a U.S.
ambassador to OSCE on Friday. But Dan, without you, none of
this would have been possible, and you’ve been a great source
of inspiration for all of us. So thank you very much for that. With that, I want to hand
over the word to Lotte, and start the seminar. Thank you. MS. LOTTE LEICHT: Thank you very
much, Fredrik [NON-ENGLISH]. It’s a pleasure to be here
again, in Schwedenhaus, and to welcome you all to this
very important discussion. Because there can be no doubt
that the rise of populism poses an extraordinary danger
and threat to human rights. What we are seeing is the rise
of the liberal democracies. So yes, governments will be
voted in by majority vote, but part of their agenda,
part of the populism agenda, is to undermine
rights for minorities, for those that
you disagree with, those that you, for some
reason, do not like– maybe even your neighbor. And that is a
challenge that we all need to stand up to,
and face head-on. Trump has gained
power in the U.S., and others in Europe
have done the same, or are now trying to do so,
through an extraordinary dangerous cocktail
of propagating hate, and making appeals to
racism, xenophobia, nativism, and to lie– lie and use untruths. This is what we will
be discussing today. I hope that our
panelists will not only be able to identify the
problems that we are facing, but also to give, in
their interventions, and in our discussion, some of
their views on how we can best take on this
challenge as nations, as communities, as
diplomats, as civil society, as journalists, and
simply as citizens. Because we are all
called into action now. We know what this populist’s– or what this kind of
populism, and representing sort of the majority view
over minorities can lead to. We’re here in Vienna, and all
of you are passing, on your way to work at the Hofburg, the
balcony where Hitler greeted the masses in this very town. This is a dangerous moment,
but it’s also a moment where we can make a difference. And it’s that
positive difference that I hope that we will also
be able to discuss today. So with that, I will leave now
five minutes to each panelist, to give us their views,
and to kick off the debate. And we will start
with Daghan Irak. Welcome. MR. DAGHAN IRAK: Thank you,
thanks for receiving me. Thanks everyone for coming. So, I used to be a journalist,
when I was in Turkey. Now I’m a scholar. And when I was a journalist, I
was a very critical journalist, and right now, I will try to
stay as scholarly as possible to fulfill the requirements
of my new profession. And this is also
actually something in common with journalism,
that you depend on the facts, even when you criticize. So it’s not some
sort of open fire– you have to depend on
facts to tell your story. So it’s not that
different, maybe. So, while being scholar, I will
try not to bore you to death– which is one of my objectives. [CHUCKLES] So since the
Brexit, and Donald Trump’s becoming
President-elect, we have been discussing
a new phenomenon, a Bosworth, if you
will, post-truth. I have an objection
to this term, because truth is, by
nature, is a construction. It doesn’t come
up in the nature– you construct it, you build
it based on a context. What you have is the facts. You have the facts. You put facts into a context,
and you build the truth. And it’s so complicated that,
with the same set of facts, you can build more than
one truth, actually. Because when the context
changes, when the context you employ changes, the truth
you are going to end up with will also change. So this period,
whatever we call it– post-truth period, or denial
of facts, or whatever– it’s not that we have no truth. We have too many truths. We have a revolving
door of truths. It changes every day. One day it’s something
else, the other day, a new thing shows up. It’s the same thing
in many places– it’s not a cultural thing. It’s not a geographical thing. I mean, it happens in the
U.S., it happens in Turkey, it happens in Hungary,
it happens in France, it certainly happened in the
UK during the Brexit campaign. So we have this global
situation going on. And we really ought to
discuss why democracies are so vulnerable to this
sort of construction of truth, and why we couldn’t
actually defend the facts against this
new sort of construction. So that is one of
the main things I’m going to discuss through
the event, basically. And also, since I’m
from Turkey, and I know of the Turkish context,
I can tell you why– in a social political context,
in a historical context– I can tell you why the Erdogan
regime became so popular, as a populist, conservative
Islamic regime or rule, in a mostly secular
democratic country, and why Turkey has become a
competitive, authoritarian country. This is a new political science
term, coined by Steven Lewicki, that I would like
to discuss a little. So mainly through
the seminar, I’m going to discuss these two
main issues, post-truth, and competitive
authoritarianism in Turkey. I suppose, for the
moment, I’m done. MS. LEICHT: Thank you
very much, Daghan. I think it is important, as you
said, to put things in facts, in context. But it’s also
important to recognize that we can’t award the
same attention to the notion that 1 plus 1 equals 3,
as 1 plus 1 equals 2. And that we need to draw the
logical consequences based on the facts, but
also real truths. I now give the floor
to Balint Josa. You also have tough
work ahead of you, and to deal with in your
home constituency in Hungary, of course. So you both come, also, with
a very personal experience of what untruths, but also
undermining rights means. MR. BALINT JOSA: Sure, thank you
very much for the opportunity. Greetings to everybody. So what we talk
about is the rise of populism versus democracy,
and the unpopularity of democracy. Because what you say, I’m
sorry, we are echoing a lot– I don’t know what
to do about it. But OK, so the issue is, that
you say, the populist rise and rising to power. I think it’s the mic, itself. So in Hungary, for example, the
2/3 majority of the government is voted only by
40% of the people. So what I see as a problem, a
huge problem with democracy– the democracy itself
became unpopular, people don’t want
to take part in it. So if you want to
talk about solutions, then my solution is go vote– that’s a very important one. And the opposite
power of populism is to find very simple solutions
to very complicated problems. We have global problems. One of them is climate change,
terrorism, economic migration– these are global problems. None of the nation states
can solve any of them. But a populist can say,
I know the solution for these problems. And, for example, climate
change doesn’t exist. I solved the problem. It’s one sentence. So [INAUDIBLE] of
the progressive side. That’s my question. So if you find solutions
to these complex problems, then populists
don’t have a place. Because if we solve climate
change, like in theory, then saying climate
change doesn’t exist won’t become any more a power– it’s off. I see– and that’s what
happened in the east of Vienna, is that the immune
system of democracy was not strong enough
to withhold populists. Because in Hungary, the
democracy was 20 years old, and we didn’t have
really the institutions. And slowly, slowly,
the authoritarian, [INAUDIBLE] state was born– not overnight. It did not happen like
it will happen, maybe, in the United
States in two days, because we had a strong
functioning democracy, which slowly, slowly shifted
with every two, three months, with a new
solution against democrats. It did not happen overnight. So what you need to do, and
what everybody has to do, in order to defend democracy
is take part in it. Because every time
the government faced strong opposition
from the people, they saw not just
100 people like me, who were always there with
their signs and activists, but they saw masses, then
they always withdraw. They withdraw in
several cases, and they said, OK, we don’t want to
push against our people. That doesn’t work. So please be democrats–
please go to rallies, please take part in it. And then it won’t happen to you,
too– how it happened to us. AMBASSADOR LOJDQUIST:
Very important message, also that democracy is
not just about the ballot. It’s not just about
voting in a government. It’s about participation. And it’s also about descending
and being able to do so. So I think what you are
saying is also important– that the common bases is,
namely, basic human rights. We can argue about policies,
we can argue about ideas, about even problems and
the solution to them, but we need to do it on the
basis of a common understanding that we all have equal rights,
including free expression, and so on. Well, there will be much
more to say about this, and we’re looking forward
to hearing from you again. Edward Lucas, you’ve been
writing a lot about this, and you’ve been
very active, also, on social media about the
challenges that we are facing. We’re keen to have
your take, now. MR. EDWARD LUCAS: Thanks, Lotte. First of all, I want to
thank Fredrik, and also the Montenegran delegation
for helping me get here, and for the UK delegation
for hosting me. And it’s great to be here. I was looking at the pieces
that I was writing 10 years ago, and it’s very interesting. If we’d been meeting
10 years ago, we’d have been worried
about Central Asia, Belarus, Transnistria, and
in our own space, problems that are
basically would be on the margins of society– things like roamer
inclusion, and so on. But there was an air
of self-satisfaction, which makes me now
think we were actually living on borrowed time,
we just didn’t realize it. And I think what’s
really happened is that the front
line of human rights has moved from the
margins to the mainstream. We are now fighting battles
in London, and Berlin, and Washington DC,
and Vienna that we used to think we were
fighting in faraway places, or faraway parts of our society. And I think that
we have to approach this with some humility. It’s no good just
saying, why are people being so horrid to us? Why do people not believe
in our causes anymore? We have to try and analyze
both how that shifted, and also what our
opponents are doing. And I think that the fundamental
victory we won in 1989, was the idea that contestability
was entrenched everywhere. That if something
happened you didn’t like, you could tackle it through
the election process, you could tackle it
through a free media, you could attack it
through the legal system, you could use NGOs,
you could have public protests on
the streets, and there was international pressure. And all those
things had triumphed in 1989– we’d seen them all
at work in different ways. And we thought those were
going to work forever. And actually, people– whether
it’s Putin, or Erdogan, or Viktor Orban– have gone around and they’ve
plugged all those gaps. So the election
system doesn’t really work anymore, because you
can’t get onto the ballot, or there’s so much money in
politics you can’t compete. The media has been
hollowed out financially, because of the changing
business models, and the public doesn’t
really– new technology has changed things, and can
do fake news in a way that was never possible. The legal system may not work
so well, because the judges may be under political control. The whole idea of NGOs
has been de-legitimized, with people saying, this is
[NON-ENGLISH] foreign agents, or these are people who can’t
get on in real politics, and so they get some money
and try and make a nuisance of themselves. Public protest is
more difficult, we have laws constraining that. And international
pressure, which was perhaps the last
big thing we have, well, that’s going
to change, too. We are not going to have,
under the Trump administration, the kind of automatic,
critics would say knee-jerk, we would say very
welcome support that we used to have from
the American administration. All that’s changed now. And I think we
have to, then, look at what are our opponents
trying to do– there’s this state-building agenda. They feel that the
most important thing is to build the
power of the state– that this has been– this
has a very important aspect. There are huge historical wrongs
that need to be corrected. The last 25 years, as
President Trump would say, have been a disaster. Or as Kaczynski would say,
that the whole post-communist transition went wrong. Orban would argue that
post-communism went off in the wrong
direction, and so on. You, therefore,
have to go from kind of a majoritarian solution,
where the majority is right, and because it’s the majority,
it has democratic legitimacy. And you didn’t need to
publish your tax returns, because the people
voted for you. So this idea of the
majoritarian mandate has taken on a
huge extra weight. And finally, the
idea of the other is now not just part of
the system, but different– but it’s outside the system. Say, if you are
opposition, it very much– in Russian, [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
has a very different connotation. It’s something that
is not systemic, it’s something that’s
basically outside and bad. And this is now
happening everywhere– that if you aren’t with the
team, you’re against the team. How do we deal with that? We’ve got to try and
recover some of the trust and legitimacy that we’ve
lost in public eyes, and that’s difficult. People
are very skeptical about people who talk for a living,
which is what we basically have been doing in the
human rights community. So I think that one way
we get back legitimacy is by more doing,
and less talking. We need to engage on the
questions that particularly concern voters. I think people are– people may be very skeptical
about the human rights agenda, or some, but
they’re still consumers. They still get annoyed if they
buy stuff and it doesn’t work. If they’re being ripped off. And I think we may need to
shift or widen our focus a bit in the human rights community
towards very practical issues of workplace rights,
and consumer rights, and so on, which directly
engage with things that people mind about. I think we need to be
more self-critical. I think we need to reckon–
we actually blew it. We inherited an enormous
moral mandate in 1989, and we’ve kind of
frittered it away, and we need to take a hard look
at ourselves and say, why is it that people don’t like
people like us anymore? They don’t vote for
people like us anymore? What did we do wrong? We need to be a lot more
transparent about what we do. I think the idea of
transparency on funding is tremendously important. I particularly think that’s
important in the think tank world. It’s very interesting– if
you Google “NGO transparency,” you get lots of NGOs that are
dedicated to transparency. It’s very hard to
find anyone who deals with the
transparency of NGOs, and I think we need to
do a better job on that. And we need to be patient. We’ve been here before– we had decades when we were seen
as, particularly in this part of the world– to the
east and to the south– as kind of futile people,
they used to say jackals, howling on the sidelines. And I’ve been going
back and looking at some of the
communist propaganda that I used to deal with when
I was a cold warrior back in the ’80s, and
the sort of things that the Czechoslovak and
Polish and Soviet press used to say about people
like us back then. And it was pretty
demoralizing, sometimes. It was a very hard
uphill struggle. But we won then, and I
think we can win again. And I just want to take issue
finding with this idea– when people say we’re
in the post-truth world. To me, that’s like saying
we’re in a post maths world. Maths is there, whether people–
or math, if you’re American– is there whether
people study it or not. Truth is still there,
too, even though it may be covered by clouds
in some parts of the world. MS. LEICHT: Thank
you so much, Ed. That was, again, an
extraordinary depressing run-through of the challenges
that we are faced with, but, I think, a very somber one. How would you– how
would you respond, then, to the notion that we are
spending an awful lot of time– particularly you,
as journalists– in covering and maybe
responding to the untruths, to the demagogues,
and they are setting the agenda of the debate. As well as, then, to
your notion that we need to positive storytelling–
we need to also show the good examples, and
very practical examples of how problems are solved. How do you balance
that challenge? MR. LUCAS: Well, first of
all, in the commercial media– which I work for– we
have to make a profit. And I could assign all
my reporters and editors at The Economist to doing
rebuttal of disinformation. And the readers would think
that’s very interesting, and then they’d cancel
their subscription. So we have to keep on
doing our main job, is to stay in business. And in the private media, that’s
not to be taken for granted. I think we were
learning a lot about how to deal with fake news. This, in its new incarnation,
it caught us a bit by surprise. We were quite good at dealing
with salient disinformation during the Cold War. My country, and others, I
think, mistakenly wound up those capabilities in the ’90s,
thinking it was game over. And we’re recreating them now. And there’s a lot we can do. I think simple rebuttal
a myth busting works well in a narrow part of the
media elite– people who trade in facts, anyway, are
quite interested to see, yes, this is why the Russian
conspiracy theory about MH 17 isn’t true. But that doesn’t really
resonate with the masses. Most people will just say,
this seems quite controversial. There seem to be various
sides to this story, and how do I know who
shot down the plane? So I think we can get
too much caught up in the weeds of myth
busting and rebuttal. What’s much better, I think,
is to attack the messenger, rather than attack the message. And so there’s very
interesting work going on at the
moment with Google, and Facebook, and Twitter,
and other of the big media companies, about whether you
can warn people that they’re going to a fake news site. Because you can do
this with algorithms– you can take, using artificial
intelligence, you can measure, this site calls itself,
“DC News” or DC Leaks.” OK, does it have
a street address? Does that street
address check out? Are there any named
individuals who work for it? Do those names actually
add up– are they all called John Doe, or Jane
Doe, or are they real people? Are they published
anywhere else? Does this website ever publish
a correction, or an apology? And you can automate this, and
you can do it very quickly, and you can then
create scores and say, this is a real website. It has real news. We may not like all
the news that’s on it, but it’s basically real. And you can give that a rating–
you can have it a red, yellow, or green badge, and that
can come up on your browser. Or you can give it
a percentage score. But equally, you can
say, just as we warn you, this site may put
malware on your computer, and Google will warn
you– it will say, you’re going to a site that
may affect your computer. Well, we are working,
right now, on doing the same on that for news. That doesn’t mean
people won’t go there, we can’t ban them
from going there. But at least they
can see that this is a site which has got no
real people working for it, never published a
correction or an apology, and is not linked to by
any reputable news site. And that gives some
quite powerful tools. So I think there’s plenty
we can do, but we are– the bad guys are several
laps ahead of us right now, but we are catching
up very fast. MS. LEICHT: Those
are indeed needed measures, but also
urgent ones, I think, in terms of catching up. Because as you said,
we’ve been caught. Maybe being a bit
naive, and definitely being far too slow
in catching up with the fake news,
and the notions. Balint, you raised the issue
of both the need to be patient, but also to respect rights
and be good democrats by being active. How do you see the
core challenge, in terms of populism– and I think we have to
agree that what is popular is not always right. I mean, that’s the
core of populism. But what is right is not
always popular, either. So how do you see us go forward,
in terms of engaging citizens that have bailed out, and said,
look, I’m casting my vote. I need a strong leader. And the leader will take
care of me, and my enemies as I see them. And that convinces me, and
let’s just move forward. We have majority, we are
entitled to do what we want. How do you respond to
that, in terms of saying, be patient, respect
rights, let’s move forward? MR. JOSA: So I think it’s
a complicated question, because I think not
so many people have found the answer yet. What I can see, in Hungary,
what worked really well is actually humor. So the only thing that
works against a tyrant is to make fun of it. Because people still have
humor, regardless of how much they take part in politics. And I believe that
a new generation of democratic
parties are needed. I see that, for
example, in France, we are very about the next
presidential election. But we also think that
probably the conservative and the socialist voters
will, in the second round, go and vote together against– that’s called anti-elite. And we believe that this
is kind of an immune system of democracy. Yes, right, but the
problem is that none of these big
institutionalized parties can really move
masses of society. They are unpopular. Like people want to switch
the channel already. So that’s why they
vote against them. They don’t vote
for something, they vote against those
who they are bored of. So I believe that,
also, internally, every democratic party needs
to go through a self-assessment and think, OK, what we did
before is not working anymore. Why? And this question
is not answered. It’s really not
answered by anyone. And patience, yes, patience,
I’m a little bit worried about patience, because I
believe that in ’38 there was a lot of German NGO members
who said, ah, don’t worry. Hitler is coming,
and maybe he’s going. So it’s not it’s not always the
best solution for these times. But what I believe is that
we need new strategies. And political parties
have to come up with it. And people, NGOs,
have an influence, and we should kind
of impregnate, I would say, with progressive
ideas these political parties. So we have to make
new alliances, also. And if you think about media,
the biggest issue with media– at least in Hungary, that is– that there is too
much sources of media. So now it’s very difficult
to pick your channel. It’s like an abundance of news. So in order to make
that kind of clearer, we really need to make
alliance with all the sectors that are working
for us, and make it into one sort of
package which says, we are the media
who tells truth, we are the parties
who are progressive, and we are the NGOs who are on
the standpoint of human rights. And we, together,
have a message. And this, individually,
does not work anymore. So we have to do something new– totally new. MS. LEICHT: Daghan, in
Turkey, it has been– I mean, that has
been experienced some of the most horrific
terrorist attacks over the past years. Democracy and liberal
democracy is rapidly declining, and the checks and balances
in society are being removed. There’s no time for
patience in Turkey, if we’re going to save
both rights and core rule of law guarantees. So how do you see the challenges
in Turkey in this regard, and what can be done? Because the country
is moving very, very fast away from
respectful rights. But also, from the
checks and balances that could possibly save
the country from itself. MR. IRAK: Well, that’s
an hour-long question. But if you will, I
would like to weigh in, and Edward Lucas’s
comment, proposition on detecting fake news websites. With all due respect, I believe
that such a system will end up with a major disaster,
since sites like Info Wars or Breitbart could get
the green light instantly, and [INAUDIBLE]
whistleblowing blogs would get the green light,
and in many countries, fake news are spread by regimes
through mainstream media, which would instantly get green light. And the critical, independent
media would get the red light, so it wouldn’t work. And also, letting
such a decision in the hands of a huge business
conglomerate, like Google, would be a major issue
regarding democracy, since the current algorithms
of Google qualifying news sites are already in too much
favor of mainstream sites. For example, if I
write the same story, and if you publish the same
story at The Economist, and even if you
copied my whole story, you would end up in Google
News, and I wouldn’t. And probably, I would be
flagged for plagiarism, because you have a much nicer,
let’s say, track record– you have an address
and everything, and I write at home. So I don’t see it
as a viable solution to any of our problems, but
it would deepen our problems in a catastrophic way. So while we are talking
about catastrophes, let’s talk about a
little bit about Turkey– that’s a good transition. [LAUGHS] So yeah, I
mean, it’s hard to talk about your own country. I mean, 15 years
ago, who would think Turkey would end up this way? We were so eager to become a
member of the European Union. And I remember myself,
as a student, when I was in France, when the first
enlargement period took place in 2004, and I felt
a little bit grim because Turkey was
not that different from many other countries,
like Romania or Bulgaria. But today, I cannot even
imagine that Turkey would become a member of European Union. It has become such a nightmare. But we had to keep our
cool, and try to analyze why it happened this way. So in my introduction,
I mentioned a little bit the difference
between truth and fact. Truths are constructions
of facts within a context. So in Turkey, since
the very beginning, since the emergence
of modern Turkey, we are really
vulnerable to truth– let’s say truth construction. On a number of issues,
we have some facts, and we take some of them, we
put in different contexts, and we kind of
produce our own facts. Like in Cyprus issue,
like in Kurdish issue, and notably in the
Armenian Genocide issue. We create our own truth based
on some facts, not all of them, we discard some of the facts
that we don’t really like. And we build our own truths,
and we believe in it. So we are not really unfamiliar
to constructed truths. But we are kind of prone
to it– prone to them. So in Turkey, at the
moment, what is happening is still constructional– many,
many, many truths each day, for a number of reasons to
address a number of issues. For example, today
President Erdogan just came up with
a new explanation why the economy is in such
a bad shape these days. And he accused the middle
man in food markets to raise the prices. So yesterday, we didn’t
have such an issue– yesterday, the middle
man in food markets weren’t accused
by the president. Like last year, we, as scholars,
who signed a peace petition, we suddenly became traitors, and
spies of foreign governments, and terrorists and such– in one day. And the media, the
pro-government media, they are in charge of writing a
back story of any new fruit, fresh out of the oven that day. So tomorrow, there
will be some stories about middle man
in food markets, like collaborating with the
currency lobby, et cetera. So it’s hard. But why are we so
vulnerable to these? The problem is, in
populist’s rules, the facts are replaced by
emotions and identities, mostly by under-represented
identities. Especially in Turkish
and in American examples, under-represented
identities is a huge deal. In Turkey– also in
Hungary, probably– because the poor, less educated,
rural society, in Turkey it’s mostly migrated
to urban areas, but still it conserves
the same values, these people are
under-represented. They haven’t been
included into democracy– other than going and voting. There are areas which
haven’t been democratized, like education, or even basic
services that a state should– a government should provide. They are not fully democratized. When you are in
Istanbul, and you come from a middle or
upper class upbringing, you have more chance in life
than someone in Anatolia. The same thing, pretty
much, in the U.S., actually. If a person, I don’t
know, in the Midwest, or in the South feels
less represented than someone in the Bay Area,
in San Francisco, in LA, or on the East Coast– Boston, or New York– that’s an issue that
you have to address. And if you don’t address
this issue, if you don’t just create a democracy where common
values can be shared by anyone, than somebody else prays on it. And the situation in Turkey and
in the U.S. is exactly that. So we had an under-represented
majority who has a great deal of social capital– mostly organized in mosques,
or township associations, because there is a huge– I have to briefly tell
you about this phenomenon, because it’s quite– very, very briefly, but it’s so
important in Turkish context. You know, there’s a lot of
migration from rural areas to urban areas in Turkey. So this happens
within a network. If you are from B and go go
to Istanbul, or wherever, you find other people from
B, and you receive help. Normally this help should be
given to you by the government, but since there is no
such agency in between, those agencies
create themselves, and there you go,
township associations. People from B association,
people from C associations. These associations
were [INAUDIBLE] in Erdogan’s rising to power. So actually, the problem is
the populist movements address to what governments and
democracies fail to address. And if we have to go back,
roll back and fix it, we have to first
fix those problems. All social facts, like
believing in fake news, can be only fixed by not
finding the culprits, but finding the
problem and fixing it. For example, for the last word,
our problem about fake news, it’s not the production
of fake news, but it’s the existence
of hundreds of thousands of people who tend to
believe in fake news. Even if we eliminated all
the fake news producers, there will be lies, there
has always been lies. And we should find why people
tend to believe in them. Thanks. MS. LEICHT: Thank you. And of course, in
Turkey, all of that happens, also in a time
where then the real news, and criticism, is being cracked
down and silenced in a way that we haven’t seen
for a long time. And that, at least, gives
me some solace in that, it is important, and it is also
important for those in power. And for that reason,
they see the necessity to crack down on it. Edward, you quickly
wanted to say something? MR. LUCAS: I first want to
think the humor point is a very important, and I’m encouraging
Radio Liberty to start a weekly Radio Yerevan
program of jokes about everything, with listeners
sending in their anecdotes, because although Russians
have lost their freedom, they certainly haven’t
lost their sense of humor. And I think, absolutely,
the attacking the pomposity and self-interestedness
of the ruling elites is a very good idea
in all countries. I think with fake news, you’ve
got to separate out what you– there’s different
strands to this. I don’t like Info Wars, but
Alex Jones is a real person– he exists, the site exists,
they have a business model. You may not like what they say,
and some of it is nonsense. But there’s a difference between
that and a completely anonymous site, like USA Politics
Today, which, we think, is purely run by
Russian intelligence. And I think you can’t–
you have to just help– we, as media professionals,
abhor the algorithms that we write can very
quickly categorize signs. And that is not a
silver bullet, but it’s a way of helping the
user of the internet make sense of what they see. And if you say, this
site is anonymous, well, that’s one strike against it. Alex Jones, as far
as I know, has never published an apology
or a correction. Well, that’s useful– Breitbart, also, never does– other kind of mainstream
outlets do it obsessively. These are useful
bits of information, and there’s stuff that you
can do on behalf of everybody, and provide it. So I don’t think this is
giving too much power to Google and to Twitter and Facebook. It’s something we can encourage
them to do on our behalf. And I don’t think, at all,
that your independent writing from home blogger is going
to be disadvantaged by this. They can say, I’m an
identifiable person, if you have a comment or agree. I publish comments, or I publish
corrections, here they are. If I’ve got something
wrong, tell me about it. And you meet very high
standards as an individual, which these big, bad sites
would struggle to do. MS. LEICHT: Thank you. I will now open
up for questions. And I think what we will do
is to take like three or four, and then go back to the panel. So please. Please introduce yourself, and
you’ll be given a microphone. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] Thank you. I’m the Irish ambassador. I would be tempted to turn
to the question of humor, because all the best political
jokes are from Hungary. But instead, I’d like to
address myself to Edward, and I wonder whether I could
characterize your approach as saying that the
liberal and human rights tradition needs to be
reappropriated in some way through deepening? And in that context,
I just might mention a couple of things I
picked up from what you said. One was that we need
a sense of history. Within the OSCE,
the other day, we had a wonderful speech from
our American colleague, Dan, and he had praise about a
progressive emancipation, and people probably
nowadays don’t feel that we’re making progress– at least inour are democracies,
many of them don’t feel that. So history is one issue. And then you also
spoke, interestingly, about how human rights shouldn’t
seem to be an elite concern, but somehow we have to show
the mainstream why human rights makes a difference to everyone. And you gave one or two
examples, but I wonder, could you elaborate on that? And in that context, I
just make two suggestions– in our current
situation in Europe, can we talk about human
rights without in some way touching on migration? I’m not saying the
solution is simple, but there is obviously
a human rights angle. And this connects us to
that history question– we have to be connected
with what’s most real. And then my other question– it springs from a very
fine piece in The Economist a few days ago about
Martin McGuinness, from Northern Ireland– you don’t have to say very much
about the background there– but it was a piece full of
sympathetic understanding of the journey that he has made. And so my second suggestion
is about the whole question of religion and secularism,
and whether there’s a need to someone to reimagine
all of that in the hope that some religious
voices could actually become important
partners in this project. AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. My name is Pier Newholland,
I’m a Danish journalist. I was just wondering,
are we really hitting the head of the nail here? We are sitting, a nice group,
very democratic, very liberal– and we are worried. And for excellent
reasons, we are worried. And I think we
should be worried. But I didn’t, for
a single moment, hear the word of unemployment. I think this is
the basic material problem that we have within
our democracies for the moment. I don’t know how to address
that problem, myself, but I would like
to say something within the historical
terms of these things. 400, 500 years ago, we had
the Age of Enlightenment coming upon us. Democracy followed. We have now been more or less
democratic within the last, say, 150 years. Maybe democracy is
drawing towards an end– as also, earlier political
systems were being superfluous, or were becoming superfluous. I think unemployment here
plays an important role. We have arrived, I would say,
with the Nobel Prize winner, [INAUDIBLE], we have arrived in
the society of entertainment. People are probably now–
they want to be entertained, basically. Our educational
standards are actually falling, because we
are concentrating too much on economy, and
too little on culture, and on information. I think we have a
serious problem there. But the majority
of our people may be not so interested
in politics anymore– they are interested
in making their money, and being entertained. And they are being entertained
by these popular and authoritarian forces. The entertainment, of course,
being that the liberals are being bashed. I wonder if the
panel could maybe discuss that a little bit. Thank you very much. INTERPRETER: Iurii Gurman,
representing the Voice Movement in Russia. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: Following
the discussion, I recall the words from
Harry Potter, a book that I’ve been reading
with my children. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: As you remember,
the professor in that book said that the most
difficult challenge is to select between what
is true and what is right. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And I believe
that the success of populism is that the decision is taken
in favor of what is easy, and not what is right. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And the
biggest challenge we see in the
context of Russia is that people are losing the
sense of what is right. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: People do
understand, in their minds, what is good and what is bad. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And
this is particularly visible among the young people. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And
in this context, I agree with what our
Dutch colleague said, that we have a problem here
in the context of education. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And another
way to address this problem, is to pay more attention to the
growing problem of paternalism. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: In most cases,
the man in the street wants problems to be
resolved for him or her, and this is in fact what
I was talking about, saying that people are
seeking an easy way out. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And in
the Russian context, we believe that
one way to address this problem is to
promote and develop the institution of
local self-government. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: Because
only when people get engaged at the local level,
they develop an understanding what kind of issues
exist at the local level, and how they should
be addressed. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And then
they get involved in the process of
self-organizing, and they, then, see themselves
how the issues are addressed, and how this
impacts their lives. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And in this
context, such issues as human rights, of democracy,
free and fair elections become not some
abstract construct, that was mentioned
earlier, but a reality. IURII GURMAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] INTERPRETER: And I believe
that this is an aspect that we should pay
more attention to, including in real politics. Thank you. MS. LEICHT: On more
question [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. Shawn McCloud, I’m UK
ambassador to the OSCE. A difficult question maybe,
but so a simple question with a difficult answer– if the success of populists
lies in their offering easy solutions, or promising
easy solutions to questions for which they have no
responsibility for tackling, or in allowing people to avoid
individual responsibility, what do you foresee happening
when more populists are in positions of
authority, and fail to deliver solutions
for these problems? MS. LEICHT: I think we
will start, actually, at this end, [INAUDIBLE]
questions there for all of you. Please be brief, so we
can take another round. MR. JOSA: So about
unemployment, I fear that unemployment
is also a symptom, because we have
also tax evasion, we have also robotics coming
in, we have new-age economy– shared economy– because
bed & breakfast hotels, they don’t require any personal. And we have lack of
education in that sense, that education is educating
people for the 19th century, while we live in the 21st. So these are really, really
huge, fundamental problems that create unemployment, of course. But I would see that also the
youth, the new generation, is now kind of less
immune, but also even more vulnerable, at the same time,
to a populist narrative. Because through
modern technology, they can access
all sorts of news. So they can also
combine efforts, they can communicate with
each other on a global level, and then you can
see this happening when there is anything
happening around the world– youth knows about it first. So like, really, really fast. So there is an opportunity. But the threat is, that as long
as they don’t get educated, that this can be changed– they don’t see it
happening, because they are kind of closed out from
taking part in democracy, politics, economy. Then, they can fall into the
trap of, again, populism. So in Hungary, for
example, the youth is voting super progressive
green, and ultra right wing right. So this is the two main,
most popular themes. So the most progressive
and the most radical. And one thing, which I really
need to address, always, that we consider in this room
a lot of people bad guys, but they consider us bad guys. There is no bad guys. Everybody has an
opinion on a subject, and everybody sees in the mirror
the most beautiful, patriotic hero, regardless that
when he goes out, he is member of
the Ku Klux Klan. It doesn’t mean that
what they believe in is fundamentally wrong– it comes from very good
emotions, proud, love. These are the most
important emotions behind being patriotic. And then, if you don’t
have these answers, and you don’t have
enough information, this can turn you into something
that we think morally wrong, but it doesn’t mean that it’s
wrong from the very first point on. So that’s the two
things I wanted to say, and then I give the floor. MR. IRAK: Well, for starters,
the populists hate the facts– that’s a fact. So in Turkey, when I have
a look, the professions who are most under risks are
journalists, lawyers, scholars, and also if you’re a politician
critic of the government from a minority. So what’s the common point? They state the fact
that the populist regime tries to ignore. So we know the kryptonite– the kryptonite is the fact. But we should also
take into account the facts that the cure and
setting with the populists is not a debate, it’s
a shouting match. So it’s a really
fruitless effort to tell hundreds of
thousands of people the virtues of facts,
instead of believing in some emotional blabber. It’s almost impossible to do. And I don’t want
to be pessimistic, but to my knowledge, there
is no populist regime that could be tackled unless
there is a huge disaster. So what are we going to do? Are we going to wait for
them to have a crash landing? Well, maybe that’s– I’m not asking this question
because I have an answer, I ask this question because
it’s a question to ask. We have to find an answer, how
we can salvage our democracies before it gets a crash landing
in this shouting match, and without ending up in prison. I mean, yeah, humor
is a great tool. But humor also may
get you in prison. In Turkey, there are people
who criticize Erdogan, like former singer, Atilla
Tas, who ended up in prison for the last 200 days. He was a very funny
character on Twitter. And the worst part of
ending up in prison is people eventually
forget about you if you are not famous enough. So it’s a very tricky question. I wish I had an answer. But I have a question, which
is the second best thing to an answer, I guess. MR. LUCAS: I think there’s
a different between populism and authoritarian populism. The populism, there’s
an easy answer. Authoritarian populism, is
there aren’t any other answers. And we’re not going to allow
anyone to come out with them. And I think there are
plenty of examples of populist parties
winning power, and then falling out of power. In this country, the
Freedom Party did very well, they did badly again, now
it’s doing well again. But we see Podemos in
Spain was doing well, now his tide is falling,
Syriza in Greece. I think the danger is that
our political system is vulnerable in two
ways, that we, perhaps, didn’t think about enough in
1989, when we just transplanted the old Westminster model
of mass political parties with mass memberships
that fight elections, and then form governments. And there are two
vulnerabilities. One is to money– that they can be bought,
and if they’re rich, they can buy votes,
and buy power, and the way wealth and
power go back and forwards into each other. And secondly, the
way in which parties stay capture, that
once a party wins, it just suborns all the
independent institutions, makes it hard for
it to be dislodged. But I think your point about
entertainment– in Britain, circuses was a problem
in the Roman Republic. And we’ve always
seen leaders trying to distract the public, if not
voters, with entertainment. And it works up to a point, but
you can’t entertain your way out of bad public services. You can’t entertain your
way out of shoddy goods, being ripped off as a consumer. You can’t entertain your way out
of being badly treated at work. And those– I think you are
absolutely right, I really totally agree with you that the
absolute basis for human rights is people’s daily experience. And that if they feel they
are being badly treated in the place where they live,
in the place where they work, in the shops where
they buy stuff– we see this in China right now. The biggest human rights
movement in China, right now, is the consumer
movement– people are absolutely fed up with being
poisoned with the stuff that they buy. And we need to think about that. And that gets on to,
finally, your question, about broadening the focus,
and deepening the focus. I think we have been,
over the last 25 years, too indulgent of
our own interest– this kind of left, liberal,
secular, elite interests, and we’ve sprayed
money at things that we really care about. And they’re all good things,
I’m not against them. But I was looking the
other day about why is George Soros so unpopular? Because in my world, Soros
is a saint and a genius, and he saved an
entire generation of East European
intellectuals of destitution after the fall of
communism, by paying them to translate
Plato into Lithuanian, and all these kind
of very good things. So I did a lot of work talking
to people in law and justice, and in fides about why
didn’t you like Soros? And it’s part that he’s kind of
rich and foreign and Jewish– there’s all these sort of– AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] MR. LUCAS: Yeah,
in the beginning. But what is they don’t
like about him now? And one guy, who I won’t reveal
the country, but he said, you know, if he went
to Soros and said, I want to do an
oral history project about Jewish feminists
in the 1930s, the money would just spray. And it would be great, I’m
not against any of this. He said, if you
want to do a project about anticommunist
partisans in the 1950s, it was kind of
yeah, well, maybe. And you either
wouldn’t get a grant, or it wouldn’t be
such a big grant. So I think there’s a perception
among the people who don’t like us that we don’t play fair– we indulge in our
own preoccupations. And we’re not interested
in questions of religion, we’re not interested
in questions of nation and
nation-building, we’re not interested in
patriotism, we’re not interested in what they
see as the real history of the country. And I think we have to listen
to that, and we have to say– have to look in the mirror and
say, did we spend the last 25 years riding our
own hobby horses, possibly to the exclusion of
other people’s hobby hoses? And that’s giving them some
kind of public legitimacy, and their attack on us. MS. LEICHT: We’ll take one
more round, and hopefully four more questions. I’ll give up the microphone–
there’s questions in the back. AUDIENCE: Hi, my name is Wina
Muring, I’m a journalist, and I’m a representative
of the NGO Reporters without Borders, defending
freedom of the media. I would like to come back
to the issue of education– I think that’s very important. And we don’t have to think just
only on Hungary, or Poland, or now Turkey, but to the
other countries which are still a bit more democratic
than others. As long as we don’t care
for the kids in the school, and teach them, how, for
instance to read media, or how to use media, or
what’s about hate postings, it’s very easy to
influence population because kids are kids,
and when they’re adults, and to believe in
what they learned to. So I think we should care for
our education of our kids. We have to develop new programs
in the sense of free media, in the sense of
independent media, as well. And so that’s, I think, one way
to save society from populism– it’s very difficult. As we know, we’ve got
populistic movements already in Austria, in Germany, in
Holland, in the Netherlands, so we know the problem
all over the world. To do something
against it is to act, and we have to
start with the kids. And I think that’s one of the
main problems and main issues we have to think about. AUDIENCE: Hello, I think I’ll
stand up so you can see me. My name is Jonas Knolling,
I’m the deputy head of the Swedish embassy
and the mission to the UN. First of all, I’d like
to take the opportunity to thank Fredrik and
all the OSCE colleagues, and everyone else taking
part in this project, and making this happen. This is an extremely
interesting discussion, not only for people
working with the OSCE, but also for us
working with generally political and economic issues. I’d like to ask a question–
it’s been touched upon already, of course, but I
like the panel maybe revisit the best
approach, if there is one, for established parties,
mainstream parties, in dealing with the rise of populism. It’s not maybe an easy one. One strategy seems
to be to try to have as little as possible to do
with populist representatives, and if necessary, join
forces over the divide between socialists
and conservatives in order to keep the
populists out of power. The French presidential
election was referred to– we also see, for
instance, here in Austria, there is a pretty long
tradition of broad coalitions between conservatives
and social democrats, making it possible
to obtain majorities for those kind of governments. But at the same
time, we seem to be serving how populists,
outside power, are, day by day,
growing in force– at least if you’re looking
at the opinion polls. And in the Austrian
case, you all know that the FPO is between
30% and 35% in opinion polls, being solidly in that way of
counting, the biggest party. So one might wonder what will
happen by the next election. So my question is, is
it a winning strategy to keep on excluding
the populists, for every good reasons that
we’ve been talking about, or might it be more pragmatic
to involve these parties, and thus demystifying,
them making them show that they don’t
really have solutions, and that they will probably
then lose popular support when that is revealed? That would be my question AUDIENCE: Kolanik
Frederickson, Vienna. Is this focus on fake
news, and on truth, not really a populist solution to
a much more difficult problem? Fake news is very
rapidly being turned around when Donald Trump gives
his first press conference in six months, he
accuses CNN of being a fake news, the BBC of being
another difficult outlet. This week, researching
editor in chief of Falta has been accused by politicians
of representing fake news, when all he does is ask
relevant questions, and present
investigative journalism. So this is being turned around. Is it not so that
propaganda is something much more than about truth and
facts, and fake or not fake? Is it not so that propaganda
is about world views, about ideology, about ways of
interpreting and evaluating the world around us? And if we focus so
much on what, to me, seems to be a
populist solution– namely getting the
facts straight– we lose a lot of the source to
a real solution of this problem. AUDIENCE: Thank you very
much to all the panelists. Claude Weil, the Swiss
ambassador to the UN and the OSCE here in Vienna. Maybe a comment–
as a diplomat, I observe populism,
and populist parties, they are often also
strongly against a strong multilateral system. It’s interesting,
because we said, I mean, they take the
issues of global nature– we all know that
the way to challenge this issue of global nature
is international cooperation. And so they should be
interested in having a strong international
system, and they are all against a strong
international system. So they are not just
a threat to democracy, they are a threat of good
governance of world challenges. So it is also a challenge
for us, as diplomats. And then, how can we build
safeguards in our systems so that they cannot abuse the
fact that they win majority, and then mismanage
the governance? By history, we are
blessed in Switzerland in having a perpetual
coalition, guaranteed. And this is actually
quite a good balance to this type of abuse. So we do have populism,
and it’s a concern, but it doesn’t reach the highest
degree of the state, thank God, because populists that go
in are checked by the fact that we have a perpetual
coalition built by the four major parties. And this is a guarantee
that, always, you have two sides of the board. And so I’m not
getting any lessons, but thinking about ways
of governing together, and not just focusing all on
majority– because we can see, winning the majority
can be abused, with all the examples we have– could be a way out. MS. LEICHT: Thank you very much. We’ll now go back to the
panel for short answers, and this time, we’ll
start with you, Ed. MR. LUCAS: On the
question of children, I think children are
increasingly more sophisticated than adults
in their consumption of– I’ve got three children,
aged 23, 21, and 13, and sometimes they
come to me and say, can we tell if this
is true or not? But I think we
should, on the whole, be trying to learn from the
younger consumers of media on the internet, rather
than lecturing them. I think they know
more than we do. Secondly I think one of
the points about democracy is you sometimes lose, and
you just– you can’t simply respond to losing by trying to
de-legitimize your opponents, and say they stole the election. It can be very
unpleasant, but I think it’s also good
advertisement for democracy that the bad guys sometimes win. And I don’t know if we have
any Estonians or Latvians here, but one of the paradoxes
about Estonia and Latvia is that the two
parties I mostly don’t like– which is Harmony
Central in Latvia, and the Center party in Tallinn,
in Estonia, which are the two pro-Russian parties. But they do win– they win control,
year after year, of the two biggest cities. You can argue that the most
important elected Russian in the world is
the mayor of Riga, because he actually won a
real election– which is not true of elections in Russia. And so it’s actually
quite a good advertisement for democracy, and
you just sometimes have to just suck it up. And then finally, I think– on this question of fake news– there’s always going to be a
very wide range of opinions. I have friends who
believe that vaccinations are a pop by the
pharmaceutical industry, I have friends who believe in
homeopathy, I even have friends who believe in astrology. I find all that very upsetting. And you always have people
who believe weird stuff, and they’ll put it out online. But I think what you can
do, as I said before, is ask, what is the
process by which you are dealing with information? Are you doing apologies? Are you doing corrections? Is there a peer-reviewed study? And at least you
can highlight where these are questions
fundamentally of faith, and where they’re fundamentally
questions of reason. And that, at least, helps other
people make their mind up. MS. LEICHT: Daghan. MR. IRAK: Well, I’d like to
start with the mainstream politics. Actually, in the
current administration, I believe that mainstream
media, mainstream politics, has a huge role, because
without Sarkozy, we wouldn’t have Le Pen. Without Blair and Cameron,
we wouldn’t have Farage. Without Bush and Tea Party,
we wouldn’t have Trump. So mainstream politics wanted
to open the Pandora’s box, cash in some easy
votes by addressing some issues which should have
been handled very delicately. But instead, especially
the right wing parties, in the UK example, also
the center left wing party, they opted for exploiting
the concerns of citizens, to make way to populist
parties, especially regarding issues like immigration, family. So when you start to
babble about abortion, LGBTIQ rights, immigration, then
the owner of this very field comes along, and starts
talking about building a wall. It’s Trump who builds the
wall, but it was actually the GOP establishment
who paid for the bricks. So the same thing in the UK. And Turkey, to this day,
the opposition still supports some of the
ideas of Erdogan, because it’s nationalistic. For example, two days ago, three
days ago, three your parties– two opposition and
one ruling party– they just penalized
an Armenian MP because he used the word
genocide in the assembly, in the parliament– which
is completely ridiculous. He has the right to say whatever
he wants to say in the quorum. So even in that situation,
while the presidential system that would end democracy
effectively in Turkey, was about to pass,
opposition parties actually cooperated with the
ruling party to penalize an Armenian MP, which is– there is a blame,
actually, here. There is some sort of shame that
mainstream politics, and also mainstream media,
should take its share. MS. LEICHT: Thank you. Balint? MR. JOSA: So, about
the fake news issue– I’m not really worried
about fake news, as such. I’m worried about
post-factual politics. So when fake news
influence people, and then they vote for those who
say the same nonsense as they read online. And as long as there is
a demand for fake news, there will be always these
sort of fake news websites. And one simple
story, Sputnik news wrote about United for
Intercultural Action, that we are sponsoring
4,000 NGOs in Europe, and we are behind No Borders. We are not. Unfortunately, we cannot
sponsor 4,000 NGOs in Europe, and we are also not the biggest
whispers in the ear of the EU commission that they should
liberate migration policies– that migrants come to Europe. We never do that. But we are very happy
to read that in Sputnik. But two days later, the
Hungarian government newspaper wrote the same exact
thing, with the same words. So we also see
that how, something that is written by some lunatic,
with full of wrong facts that are completely
out of the air, come into mainstream politics
of elected government. So this is the problem,
not alone fake news. And I believe that
also, yes, youth knows how to think critically,
but for example, in Hungary, the 16 to 21-year-olds don’t
read political news at all. So they have 1% who regularly
reads political news. Nothing. So they cannot be reached
by anyone, not by socialist, progressive, or no one–
no one reaches them. And that’s a problem,
again, because when they read entertaining news,
they might believe and follow, and they have a totally
different view of reality, when they live in this
alternative reality of fake and post-factual news. And I believe– I agree very much with
the gentleman in the back, that demystifying and
engaging with populists openly is the best other way. Making them funny is
one way, but the other is to defeat them in public. That’s something
that we also lack– we lack the sort of
political culture when we can debate
and win arguments. We are not prepared from
our own things, as well. Because, as I
started it with, we don’t have these
answers, either. We don’t. So that’s the step
number one, that we agree among us what is
our answer to climate change, migration,
economical track, terrorism. When we don’t have
these answers, how we can go into a
discussion with someone who does have answers,
even though they are wrong, it’s not working. One talks about history,
the other about mathematics. How they can have a
conclusion at the end? It’s not possible. And as long as we cannot defeat
them in public with arguments, with facts, with solid
something– a vision, a whatnot– they will always be able to
say, what you say is bullshit. That’s a power. And we cannot really face this
without having our answers ready, and pile up. We don’t have any bullets– not just silver
bullets, we don’t have. We don’t have any bullets. That’s my problem. That’s why I am
frustrated about it. And when I see a discussion
between two president tries to be elected, I
don’t see any of them with something that
I would vote for. I cannot just always vote for
the one that is less populist– that’s not what turns me on. MS. LEICHT: Well, on
that note– and I would say what was
expressed by everyone was that we do need
positive agendas. We cannot simply respond
to a negative agenda, and we cannot use all our energy
and time to respond to lies. We need to, ourselves, also
represent visions, and policies to the problems that
people really face, and are part of their daily lives. I want to thank
everyone for coming. But I want to just do it
on and one little note, because half a year
ago, a friend of mine– and a person that I had
the extraordinary privilege to work with and learn from– was killed in an
act of pure hate. That I also believe was
steered by the debate. Her name was Jo Cox, and she
was a Labor MP in the UK. Jo was very, very clear-eyed
about the problems that we are facing, and that
we have been discussing here today. She was energetic,
also, in her work on behalf of the stay campaign
in the Brexit discussion in the UK. But Jo was an
extraordinary optimist– you know, she believed
very strongly, and she said this in
parliament, and she said to many of her friends. She kept saying it. She believed very strongly
that what we hold in common is far more significant
than our differences, and that would divide us. I want to believe that, too. And I want to believe that
that one thing that we hold in common, and that we
all need to stand up for– and we can disagree
about policies, about solutions,
about everything else, is the bottom line of
human rights, rule of law, based on which we can
have all these debates. And human rights, not
just for our friends, not just for the people that
we know, that we hold dear, but for everyone. And that is worth all
of us to stand up for, whatever other
disagreements we have. And that, I think,
is a positive agenda that we all need to see
ourselves obligated to take on, head on, as individuals,
as parts of families, in our communities,
with business people, as journalists, as civil
society organizations, as opposition members
of parliament, and indeed, as governments. And we need to do
that at every level. Because if we don’t, then
that very foundation, what binds us together,
will also evaporate. Thank you very much for coming. And now, I will give
the word to Fredrik, who will tell us how the rest
of the day is going to work. [APPLAUSE] AMBASSADOR LOJDQUIST:
Before I come to the sort of
organizational matters, I would just allow myself
to make some comments on this discussion. I think this has been
a great discussion. It’s also one of the
purposes of this day, and that is connect
the work that we– some of us here, as representatives
of governments in the OSCE region do in our daily
work with the OSCE, and to connect that discussion
with the world of NGOs, analysts, think tanks,
and so on outside. And I think we
need to have this– we, diplomats, cannot just
sit in the Hofburg and discuss among ourselves. And I think it’s also
good for non-state actors to also have this discourse
and interaction with us. They always say,
it’s a big family, and this was organized by a
number of the representatives of participating states. But I’m also
particularly happy to see other representatives of other
parts of the overseas family here. There is a secretariat,
and I saw Paul Pickard– there, Paul, you’re there. We are also very privileged
and happy to have the representative of
the Freedom of Media and some of her
colleagues from one of the independent overseas
institutions, [INAUDIBLE] here. And also, the Deputy
Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights, Catherine Jineau, who is strategically placed
in the back corner there. And I’m very happy to
you and your colleagues, that you could come here. I think the matters we
have discussed here today, they are a matter of
concern to all of us– human rights,
democracy, rule of law, these are very, very important
things in themselves, and they are challenged,
and they are threatened. And there’s a constant battle
and ongoing discussion of this. From the OSCE
perspective, the OSCE is, as such, not a human
rights organization, a democracy organization, it’s
an organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. But there is a very direct
link, and that, I think, what makes OSCE
unique, and that’s the link between
security between states, and within states
on the one hand, and respect for democracy,
human rights, and rule of law on the other hand. And this is what’s unique
and revolutionary character of the Helsinki Final Act,
which was then followed up by the Paris Charter, later on. And we see how
this is threatened. We see how internal repression
and external aggression go hand in hand. And this is a
threat to security. So these matters
do not matter only in terms for all
the obvious reasons, but also in terms of security. And I think my Swiss
colleague pointed out, populism is also a threat
to the international system, and the international
legal order. And we have to deal
it on that level. I think this is an ongoing
discussion we have deepened, and we discussed
some issues, but this is a discussion that
will go on, in this part of the broad,
ongoing discussion. As a representative of a
Swedish government that has a feminist foreign
policy, I would be remiss that I think some of the
issues that didn’t touch upon was a little bit
the gender issues– we have had some quite
remarkable statements of two very important
men in this world, only over the last
days and weeks, and even yesterday, it
was quite remarkable. And I think there
is definitely not only in terms of migration,
minorities, of different kinds, but I think there is a gender
aspect to this that also needs to be discussed
and touched upon, and maybe that we can
do in the next seminar. So now, I would ask, kindly,
everyone to leave slowly, and organized, in a
nice way, this room. There will be
drinks and something little to chew on
served outside, and then we will reconvene
here at 12 o’clock for the Democracy
Award prize ceremony. But before you stand
up, once again, I really want to give a warm
round of applause to this star panel who
has helped us today. [APPLAUSE]

Maurice Vega

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