Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic

11/25/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/26/2021 01:15

Martin Klus: 'Even during the pandemic, extremists in Slovakia are spreading hatred and polarizing society, not only in the squares, but also on social networks and conspiracy[...]

"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed an increase in hate speech and misinformation in the information space. The alarming thing is that even with the contribution of a part of the opposition that inclines to ultra-right and radical ideology, we have already reached the stage of a society greatly polarized. At the same time, we are witnessing the questioning of truth, scientific knowledge and the elementary rules of coexistence in society. I regret that some political leaders in Slovakia have also shamefully exploited the pandemic to raise populist voices and challenge the efforts of experts to protect public health. There is no doubt that fake vaccine reports are one of the main reasons why citizens are still hesitant about vaccination. We cannot continue to fight against the pandemic this way. Science provides us with sufficient answers on how to deal with the coronavirus. It is time to reject lies and stand firmly in defence of the truth, science and decency. I am pleased that, even in Banská Bystrica, the Human Forum 2021, which is dedicated to promoting the protection of democracy and human rights in Slovakia, is also contributing to this."

This was stated by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Martin Klus on Wednesday, 24 November 2021 in Banská Bystrica, during the discussion entitled The State of Extremism in Slovakia and in the World and their Risks to the Development of Democracy, which was held within the framework of the 8th International Discussion Forum on Democracy and Human Rights - Human Forum 2021.

The initiator and main organiser of the series of events is the civic platform Not in Our City (Nie v našom meste), in cooperation with the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations of the MBU in Banská Bystrica and several other community centres or local civic associations.

The State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, who eight years ago stood at the birth of this international forum, in a discussion with domestic and foreign experts on extremism in society, paid attention mainly to the spread of hate speech, radical ideas, but also hoaxes in the information space, especially on social networks.

"For years, we have been pointing out that extremist expressions have become increasingly apparent in the European Union, even in places and communities where we have never experienced them before. The COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed the need to seriously address modern forms of radicalism and hatred in the online space, which can subsequently manifest itself in ordinary civil life. Unlimited tolerance of disinformation and injustices in social networks, often spread by non-existing individuals or internet bots, have contributed to the polarization of society and are already reflected in a real threat to public health and establishment of democracy in Slovakia," said Martin Klus.

During the first day of the International Discussion Forum on Democracy and Human Rights - HUMAN FORUM 2021, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Martin Klus also addressed civil society representatives for the first time in the framework of a round table in relation to the upcoming Summit for Democracy, initiated by US President Joe Biden.

"Slovakia welcomes the organisation of the Summit for Democracy and appreciates the invitation of the President of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová. One of our priorities is to show leadership in the topic of media freedom. We will reflect these efforts not only on the domestic but also on the European political stage. The first step will be to support the Media Freedom Act of the European Commission, which aims to protect the independence of the media and media environment in the EU," explains Martin Klus while stating that the fight against corruption, as well as the strengthening of civil society, are among the other key areas; Slovakia will be even more committed to promoting democracy and protecting human rights.

The State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic also called on representatives of non-governmental organisations and citizens' initiatives to actively support these efforts and also to cooperate in fulfilling the commitments of the Slovak Republic at the Summit for Democracy.