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The Czech government should set out a clear plan for how to proceed in building strategic state communication and combating disinformation

What is the current situation? A fortnight ago, the government decided to remove Michal Klíma from his position as the government’s media and disinformation commissioner, and at the same time decided to abolish the position altogether. The action plan against disinformation, which Mr Klíma and his team prepared, will probably never be finalised and approved, and Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in an interview with Deník that we don’t even need one. The agenda related to disinformation has been moved under the national security adviser Tomáš Pojar, whose statements on this agenda so far, however, have been very restrained. It is not yet clear what will happen to the work that has been started on the strategic communication of the state. We describe the current situation in more detail in a commentary for Forum 24.

Why is it important? The Czech Republic is facing one disinformation wave after another, and the majority of society (up to 76% according to STEM) agrees that disinformation is a threat. This is also evidenced by the Analysis of the Czech Republic’s readiness to face a serious disinformation wave, prepared by the Ministry of the Interior in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice. The analysis shows, among other things, that the organisational, personnel and technical capacities of the Czech state to counter a serious wave of disinformation are insufficient or non-existent in the vast majority of the areas concerned. The need to build such capacities is based on the 2016 National Security Audit and is also envisaged in the 2020 Action Plan for Countering Hybrid Activities. Moreover, the current government has committed to this in its programme statement.

What should the Czech Republic do? The government should clearly define how it will proceed in the area of building strategic and crisis communication of the state and in the area of countering disinformation in order to fulfil what it promised in its programme statement. The already established strategic communication capacities in the Cabinet Office and other ministries should be maintained. The government should support and further develop their activities, following the example of countries such as Sweden, Estonia and the UK, where the crisis and strategic communication system is considered one of the most important tools for establishing a positive relationship between the state and citizens and strengthening mutual trust.