German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced in a press conference in Tallinn on Friday that Germany and Estonia will start cooperating in the media sphere, with the aim of counterbalancing Russian propaganda.
Steinmeier, on a two-day tour of the Baltic Sea region, visiting Finland and the Baltic states, said after a meeting with Estonian Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus that Germany prefers long-term cooperation with Estonia, rather than short-term measures, when it comes to dealing with security concerns.
The two countries intend to cooperate in public media sphere, with the aim of strengthening civil society, promoting education and counterbalancing Russian disinformation. The specific steps include supporting the development of ERR's (Estonian Public Broadcasting) TV and online services in Russian, and sharing TV and web programs - documentaries, info, entertainment - by Deutsche Welle in Russian for ERR.
Germany will also start supporting basic and advanced training programs for journalists and journalism students via German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Editorial internships in Germany for interested Estonian journalists via International Journalist's Programme (IJP) will also be offered.
The German foreign minister stressed that these measures are not meant to respond to Russian propaganda with their own methods, but rather to make sure that neutral information reaches the audiences. “You cannot combat propaganda with counter-propaganda in a democratic society.”
Steinmeier also emphasized the security cooperation between the two countries. “We are improving NATO presence in Estonia and Germany is participating. There is a German vessel in the Baltic Sea and work is underway to set up a NATO rapid reaction force. Estonia can rely on Article 5 guarantee.”
The foreign ministers also discussed cyber-security. According to Steinmeier Estonia has done a good job in this field.
Steinmeier’s visit came just three days after German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen visited Tallinn and confirmed that Germany will participate in the Baltic Air Policing mission again this year and four fighter jets will be based in Ämari Air Base. German troops will also take part in the multinational military exercises in Estonia next year.
Steinmeier will also meet with Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
Germany is an important ally for Estonia both in NATO and the European Union. Last autumn, Germany supported the Baltic Air Policing mission from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, with four Luftwaffe Eurofighter Typhoon jets patrolling the skies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Editor: S. Tambur