rime Minister Taavi Rõivas replied to the interpellation concerning the psychological defence of the Republic of Estonia (No. 163), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Martin Helme, Jaak Madison, Henn Põlluaas, Mart Helme, Uno Kaskpeit, Raivo Põldaru and Arno Sild on 23 February.
The interpellators wished to know about the Government’s psychological defence strategy against propaganda attacks from Russia.
Rõivas said that Estonia’s response to propaganda attacks from Russia is similar to the strategic communication strategies of NATO and the European Union. “This means in the first place that we do not give up our values of openness and freedom of speech,” Rõivas stressed. He introduced the four directions of the strategy. The first is the awareness of the situation. “We monitor hostile propaganda and reveal its mechanism to the society. This includes also the development of critical thinking in school education,” Rõivas explained. Second, alternatives or diverse media space. “Estonia must have alternative information to that offered by propaganda. We have to preclude people from being in the influence sphere of only one information source. An example of this is the launching and continuing development of ETV+,” the Prime Minister said. Third, proactiveness. “We must always present our position proactively and, if necessary, also repeat it. Above all, it means both technical and human resource-based readiness to respond to heightened information demand in a situation of crises,” Rõivas said in justification. Fourth, regulations. “Estonia will have to continue updating its laws in the very rapidly changing world of media technology,” Rõivas said when introducing the content of the strategy.
In reply to the question as to how the Government was going to respond to potential hostilities of the propaganda channel “Sputnik”, the Prime Minister said that free press is the most effective antidote to propaganda. “The Estonian governmental authorities do not regard “Sputnik” as a journalistic organisation or an expression of free press. The Estonian administrative agencies do not regard the enquiries from “Sputnik” as journalistic points of topic. The response of the Government, however, comes from the general Estonian values of openness and freedom of speech,” Rõivas explained. “We do not prohibit their activities as long as they do not violate Estonian laws. However, we monitor their activities, and should a conflict with Estonian laws or abuse of freedom of speech appear in them, a response of the competent agencies can be expected,” the Prime Minister said. In his opinion, the Estonian population for the most part has proved surprisingly resistant to hostile propaganda.
Rõivas also replied to the interpellation concerning Nord Stream 2 (No 176).
The Minister of Education and Research Jürgen Ligi replied to the interpellation concerning the low interest of young people in the teacher’s profession (No. 160) and the interpellation concerning the children who fail to comply with the obligation to attend school (No. 170).
The sitting ended at 6.34 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
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