Slovak President: Democratic countries face rise of extremism, decency is coming to symbolize "weakness"
Democratic countries are facing a new wave of propaganda and the rise of extremist political forces, Slovak President Andrej Kiska said in his opening remarks at the international Globsec conference last weekend in Bratislava. The 11th annual Globsec was dedicated to questions of terrorism, the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the referendum on Britain remaining in the EU.
The conference was attended by experts and politicians, with the Czech Republic represented by Defense Minister Martin Stropnický and Foreign Affairs Minister Lubomír Zaorálek. "Europe today cannot believe that its security is something that can be considered certain. We must take joint actions, and the conditions for that are collaboration and communication," the Czech Foreign Minister told the press prior to the conference beginning.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotaka canceled his participation in Friday's program, where he was scheduled to appear with his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico on a discussion panel that was cancelled due to Fico's health difficulties. Kiska, representing the Slovak hosts, said during his opening remarks that "Many years after the end of the cold war, we are facing a new wave of political propaganda and an information war, an effective, intensive one, that is managing to manipulate the atmosphere in our societies."
"This war is even managing to overwhelm political decision-making," Kiska said. "The result is a weakening of our security."
According to the Slovak President, "decency" is becoming a symbol for "weakness" and "extremism" is becoming a symbol of "strength". "Extremist political movements and parties are gaining strength in many countries. Even standard politicians are sometimes lowering themselves to that level or repeating solutions that are popular and simple, but also wrong," he said.
Kiska said pressure is growing for the undermining of basic principles and values. "We cannot consider our principles and values to be automatically given. It is precisely those principles and values that are the target of propaganda which is reviving the specters from the dark corners of society - extremism, a general lack of faith in democracy, and xenophobia," he said.
The Slovak President went on to say that it is also important to stop the gradual decline of faith in society. He said he believes it is necessary to explain to the younger generation that there is no better alternative available than democracy and freedom.
Kiska also said the solutions to serious problems such as the migration crisis, the situation in Ukraine or the threat of terrorism require the ability to achieve compromise, the political will to do so, and time. "If we were to absolutely abandon the search for common solutions, if we were to stop combating extremism, nationalism and scepticism, then we might end up in a vicious circle of crisis decision-making, working on plans B, C or D that we haven't really thought through," the Slovak President warned.
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