Foreign Minister Mikser: governments must protect information space and stop the spread of disinformation

On Wednesday 13 February, Foreign Minister Sven Mikser participated in the launch event of the Guidelines on National Minorities and the Media in the Digital Age, or the Tallinn Guidelines by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM), held in Tallinn. The event was opened with a high-level panel that included, in addition to the Foreign Minister, HCNM Lamberto Zannier and Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid.

“The freedom of the media and the freedom of expression are the cornerstones of a democratic society, and its protection both online and offline is one of Estonia’s priorities when it comes to human rights,” Foreign Minister Mikser said. “In the information society, we must increasingly pay attention to critical thinking, and learn to navigate the streams of information. The massive amount of information that surrounds us today also enables the emergence of disinformation, and it is the responsibility of governments to protect our information space and stop the spread of disinformation and hate speech, including about national minorities,” he said.

The Foreign Minister also lauded the role of OSCE in addressing issues related to freedom of the media and national minorities. “International organisations can be a forum for dialogue between states and for launching processes that allow us to reiterate our values and principles. The arrival of the Tallinn guidelines, drawn up on the initiative of OSCE, is timely, as they come at a time when attempts are being made in information spaces to cause divisions in our societies. We must pay attention to this and increase the resilience of our societies,” Mikser stressed.

Mikser welcomed the fact that the presentation of the guidelines took place in Tallinn, as it would reinforce Estonia’s image as an e-state.

The panel discussion of the Foreign Minister, HCNM and the Estonian President was followed by a discussion of experts on the role of the media and information technology in the integration process of national minorities, and on how the modern information space could encourage the promotion of a coherent society. Experts included the Director of the Integration Foundation Irene Käosaar, Director of the Estonian Public Broadcasting Erik Roose, Professor of Tallinn University Katrin Tiidenberg, Senior Adviser to the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Andrey Rikhter, and Senior Researcher of the University of Amsterdam Tarlach McGonagle.

The first guidelines on national minorities and the media date back to 2003. Last year, as the guidelines were being updated, HCNM Lamberto Zanni introduced the digital dimension and information society aspect to the Tallinn guidelines. The guidelines are compiled with the 57 participating countries in mind, and are advisory in nature.

Additional information on the Tallinn Guidelines: www.tallinn-guidelines.info

Opinion piece by HCNM Lamberto Zannier: goo.gl/TjPPjt

Gallery: www.flickr.com/photos/136478360@N05/sets/72157706292495674 (Estonian Institute of Human Rights)

Additional information:

Sandra Kamilova
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
Communication Department
+372 5667 5362
press@mfa.ee