Following our successful Winter University in February, we held our fourth Council Meeting of the current working year in Latvia in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for the Baltic States and Nordic countries. Due to its geopolitical relevance and expertise in strategic communication, we chose the city of Riga to discuss the theme of political communication in a changing media environment and how to engage young people with modern communication strategies.
During the four-day conference, we provided 75 delegates from 32 countries with practical training and high-level panels. Hosams Abu, MP and Board Member of the Unity party and Edgars Ikstens, International Secretary of the Unity party gave the inauguration speech alongside EDS Secretary General Tomasz Kaniecki. They introduced the delegates to the situation of the Baltic countries, upcoming Latvian elections in October and the role that youth is to play therein. “We need better instruments to empower our youth to participate in a dialogue, debates, to join parties, therefore playing a more impactful role in the future of the EU,” argued Kaniecki.
The second day of the conference marked panel discussions and working groups. Early morning, Elina Lange-Ionatamishvili with NATO StratCom, delivered an analysis on the evolution on political communication the past years and how NATO is tackling the challenge of Russia’s use of misinformation in their hybrid operations in Eastern Europe. The critical panel discussion of the day constituted of Artis Pabriks, former Defence and Foreign Minister and Ojars Eriks Kalnins, Head of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Seima. Our guests explained why it has been crucial in the Baltic history to structure a dominant narrative and how the digital revolution affects this strategy. The afternoon was dominated by the EDS working groups, where documents on Higher Education and Reseach, Policies for Europe and Human Rights were debated amongst participants.
The evening session concluded with a panel on the youth engagement through the social media. Matteo Albania, EPP Communication and Marketing Officer, Beppe Galea, EDS Vice Chairman for Communication, Michael Cottakis, Director of the 1989 Generation Initiative at the European Institute, LSE and Arturs Mednis, New Black analysed the strengths and weaknesses of our political families in their digital communication. Their expertise allowed attendants to study practical cases of digital narrative and what goes into building digital storytelling.
At the last day of the event, the delegates participated in extensive training given by the company “Quo to doma?” to enhance their debating skills. Through Cartesian thinking and argument construction, delegates learned how to win a debate by convincing their public.
The Council Meeting took place after the training, adopting a total of eight resolutions. EDS calls for consolidation of the corporate tax at a European Union level, as an idea presented by the Policies for Europe working group. We also acknowledged our partners on the importance of securing the cyberspace and the digital market, introduced in the Human Rights working group. The Higher Education & Research working group worked on a motion to increase the democratic participation of students in both their local and university communities.