“Education, information and awareness are the most important and effective weapons in the fight against hate speech and disinformation.” – Magdalena Adamowicz, wife of Paweł Adamowicz
In the presence of the family of Paweł Adamowicz, the Mayor of Gdańsk who was assassinated last January, and the new Mayor of Gdansk, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, the Members of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions (EPP-CoR) at their Group meeting discussed means by which to tackle the climate of hatred and violence against politicians that has been rising in the Member States.
Fake news have targeted not only various minorities, but the whole EU agenda as well, Magdalena Adamowicz said and continued: “We need to see how serious the consequences of turning a blind eye to fake news and hate speech are. Local and regional authorities with their civic communities can help meet the biggest challenge facing the EU – to confront speech that carries contempt, pain and death. “
Honouring the legacy of the late Mayor Adamowicz, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz wants to continue fostering an open society in Gdansk and developing the city based on European values. On 4 June, the city hosts the 30th anniversary of partially free elections in Poland, to which the Mayor invited all members of the Group.
EPP-CoR President Michael Schneider condemned the fact that ruling parties in several EU Member States, including Poland, use hate speech to foster the fragmentation of society and as a method to gain political visibility.
“Anonymous hate speech online affects us all, and it also affects elections. Bots and trolls are hired and paid to influence elections and shape what people think through hate speech on the internet”, continued Adam Struzik, EPP-CoR.
The debate was followed by the inauguration ceremony of Foyer Paweł Adamowicz in the main building of the European Committee Regions in honour of the late Mayor and active member of the EPP Group in the CoR.
Speaking on behalf of the CoR’s Polish delegation, Marek Wozniak said: “It is very important for us to have a place to commemorate Adamowicz here in the CoR. A place that represents more than words to remember the former Mayor of Gdansk, who was a strong defender of EU values. These values are not given; we need to continue fighting for them every day.”
Photos of the debate and ceremony are available here.