On 10 June 2020 the High Representative of the [European] Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Spaniard Joseph Borrell, has published in German a 19-page “Joint Communication to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.” The “Communication” is entitled “Tackling COVID-19 – Getting the facts right.”1
This opinion of an EU authority and the documents associated with it are not only a renewed attempt to seal off the EU from criticism,2 but also to impair freedom of expression and information in the EU states and to extend the powers in this respect at EU level. Since September 2015,3 the European Union has also been contributing to the war policy of the NATO states (and the EU) against Russia and now also against China. One of the ways in which it is doing this, is by pretending to expose and pillory “disinformation” (until 2018 referred to by the EU as “fake news”). The “Joint Communication” of 10 June belongs in this context.
Indeed, page 4 of the “Communication” states:
“Foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular Russia and China, have engaged in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns around COVID-19 in the EU, its neighbourhood and globally, seeking to undermine democratic debate and exacerbate social polarisation, and improve their own image in the COVID-19 context.”
There is no direct reference to these statements in the “Communication” itself. However, a footnote within this paragraph refers to another paper from the EU to support these statements. This extensive text was published on 28 May 2020 and is entitled “EEAS Special Report, Up-date: brief assessment of the narratives and disinformation on the COVID 19 pandemic (update: 23 April to 18 May) – EU versus disinformation.”4 EEAS is the abbreviation for the “European External Action Service”, which reports to the “High Representative”.
Anyone who expected to find any concrete evidence in this text that would be comprehensible to the reader for the statements from the “Communication” quoted above would be deceived. However, it is very interesting to read what the EEAS believes is all supposed to be “disinformation“.
Russia and China
It says for example: “The efforts of state actors like China to deflect blame, to use the pandemic to promote their own governmental system and enhance their image abroad continue.” Is that “disinformation” already? What government does it differently?
Or: “In line with our previous analysis, China’s general aim of controlling the narrative on COVID-19 and deflecting any criticism of the country is still present. China – “having made sacrifices to buy time for the rest of the world” – is portrayed as a responsible and transparent actor in the pandemic and a model for other countries to follow. In parallel, where established facts or prevailing narratives could be seen as unfavourable to China or could support criticism of Chinese authorities there seems to be the effort of creating doubt in relation to those. For example, creating doubts about China’s role in the COVID-19 outbreak and countering international calls for an independent inquiry into the origins of the outbreak of the virus in China. At the same time, there has been a shift towards more directly challenging and mocking the US administration and its response to the pandemic. China’s state-run media has been implying a US cover-up and demanding answers from the country.” A lot of interesting points to start talking about. But “disinformation”?
The paper goes on to say: “Multiple Russian state-controlled media channels, including RIA Novosti news agency and RT, explicitly defended China in face of international criticism of handing the COVID-19 outbreak. EU-sanctioned TV host and media manager Dmitry Kiselyov compared criticism of the Chinese government to Russia being held responsible for the chemical attack in Salisbury and meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections – referring to two prominent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives.” Here, too, there are many interesting points to get into a discussion. But “disinformation”?
The USA and NATO
Then it says: “Multiple pro-Kremlin outlets have reported (in Russian, French and English) about alleged clandestine US biological laboratories in Ukraine. The implication behind such disinformation messages is that the US is afraid of leakage of infectious substances on its own territory, that such labs facilitated the US support for Euromaidan that epidemics start around the labs, and more directly that COVID-19 might have been created in one of the labs in Ukraine. These type of messages build on a prominent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the ‘secret military laboratories’, most notably in the case of Lugar lab in Georgia. As such, they are easily replicated throughout the region: in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova.The same conspiracy theory about US biological laboratories in former Soviet republics has been also spread by Chinese officials and state media.” Once again, many interesting points to get into a discussion. But “disinformation“? Or even “conspiracy theory“? The reader will find no comprehensible evidence of this here either.
It is also interesting to see who the EAD cooperates with: “In addressing disinformation and identifying and analysing disinformation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, the EEAS is working closely with the European Commission, European Parliament services and EU Member States. The EEAS also cooperates on this issue with international partners (G7, NATO and non-state actors).” [Emphasis added by the author]
Syria and the sanctions
The following monstrosity fits to this. It is being disputed that the sanctions against Syria are also hindering the country in its fight against the corona pandemic: “The Syrian regime is further advancing its disinformation campaign against sanctions claiming that Western countries are perpetrating an ‘economic war’ against Syria and the Syrian people and that sanctions have crippled the health sector and are impeding the country’s response to COVID-19. This was reiterated by Assad claiming that COVID-19 comes in addition to an economic challenge, which we have been facing as a result of over nine years and unjust sanctions imposed on our people’.”
The fact that this is also referred to as a “disinformation campaign” illustrates which way the wind is blowing. The truth about the consequences of the war policy should be dismissed as “disinformation“. You can call this war propaganda.
And what Putin really says
However, there is no reference to a video conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin with various ministers, heads of authorities and other responsible officials of Russia on 28 April 2020, which also dealt with the corona pandemic (see “Russian President Vladimir Putin on Corona“). And one wonders why such statements have not been and are not reported in our countries. •
2 For example, much emphasis is placed on dismissing as “disinformation” the reports about the lack of solidarity within the EU, which was quite obvious to everyone in the initial phase of the responses to the corona pandemic.
3 In September 2015, the EU Commission set up the East StratCom Task Force to track and analyse “disinformation” flowing from Russia to Europe. It publishes a Disinformation Review.
”In this context, I would like to explain again what my decisions are based on.
Freedom is, of course, an absolute value in modern civilisation. I am referring to the freedom of every citizen. But every human’s life is inimitable and is also an absolute value given to us from above. And we must protect it so that people can experience joy, love, raising children and just living.
Let me also recall a well-known adage: the freedom of everyone is limited by the freedom of others. This is very appropriate during the pandemic. If some people prefer to behave differently and raise their unlimited personal freedom above the interests and freedoms of others, then they are threatening their lives. In this case, freedom becomes irresponsibility, egotism and, to a certain extent, violence as regards others and could trigger serious trouble.
And one more point – about the ethical, moral choices we are facing today. Some people in the world in general and Russia in particular maintain that it is more important to think about the economy and material prosperity, which is, of course, important.
But what is being implied here? Basically, it implies moving forward, by stepping over everything and everyone without looking back. This basically implies ignoring the risks of the epidemic and simply lifting the restrictions as soon as possible. And if some people get sick, then they will be sick and become incapacitated or even die and this is their lot. It comes down to survival of the fittest, where everyone is only out for himself.
We know from history and world literature that in primitive times, seniors, sick children and weak people were simply abandoned for the sake of the survival of an entire tribe. Perhaps, there was simply no other way to get through those times. But we live in the 21st century and I will say straightaway that those who suggest sacrificing people today and leaving them to their own devices are only calling for a return to savagery and barbarity.
Legends say that in ancient Sparta, ill-born babies were tossed into a chasm at the foot of Mount Taygetus, but most historians and archaeologists now dismiss this as myth. Yet, we do know that the Spartan society operated on rigid orders. However, even that did not help; ultimately, Sparta lost its statehood. A revealing story.
Let’s now recall a very short – just a few pages – but poignant story by Jack London, The Law of Life, which can move one to tears. It describes a tribe that abandons its old people who became a burden. Their children gave them some food and left, leaving their parents to be eaten by animals, leaving them to die. But the old father, left alone by the fire, trusted and hoped until the end that his sons would return for him. Can you imagine for a moment that we would treat our parents, our grandparents like that, like they did in that story? I will never believe it. This is not our genetic code.
Because we take from our ancestors who taught us completely different things. Russia has lived a thousand years with values such as mutual assistance, mutual support and solidarity. And today these are the main pillars of our statehood. We inherited them along with Orthodoxy. These values are also at the core of other religions professed by the peoples of Russia – Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. A philosophy of humanism has helped us survive for centuries. And today the future of our families, the fates of other people, depend on our responsibility.
I repeat – people and their lives are what matters most to us now. Any other choice would be unacceptable for our people. I know, I am fully confident that the absolute majority thinks so, and acts in good conscience.
We need to save people, to keep them alive, and the rest will follow. We will certainly rectify things and make up for everything; we will defeat this coronavirus and when it’s all over we will bail out the economy together, bolster prosperity, and will certainly support those who have lost their jobs and savings, those going through hard times now; we will prop up our struggling businesses, help them save jobs, and get strong again. More state support measures will be added and expanded.
And now, each achievement, however small, but still a real success, especially each life saved, is strengthening our hope and confidence in a victory over the pandemic.
We will force it to retreat. Life will get better, I promise. And it lies in our power to make this happen as soon as possible, so we will not only overcome these trials and tribulations, but also create a reliable context for future development.
Thank you all. Thank you.“
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