WHEN THE PANDEMIC IS USED FOR PROPAGANDA: SILENCE ABOUT THE EUROPEAN AID, WHILE RUSSIA AND CHINA ARE GLORIFIED

In the recent period we have witnessed an anti-Western propaganda pointing out that the European Union is not helping Italy, one of the European countries that has been hit the hardest by the Coronavirus. In addition, there is a positive narrative about Russia and China as the only countries that are helping the countries affected by the virus.

The web portals Deneshen, Galama, and Infomax have published texts that belittle the help coming from the European Union to Italy, while there are attempts to glorify the help of Russia, China and Cuba for Italy, presenting them as the only aid.

Why China and Russia help Italy?

Both countries have challenging political systems that are not recognized for their high level of democracy and human rights and freedoms. For this reason, diplomatic propaganda is most present at the times when there are natural disasters and pandemics.

China is under pressure from high numbers of dead and infected people with the Coronavirus, and very early it declared victory in the fight against the virus, and now appears in the role of a humanitarian country helping other nations. Our team has already written on this topic in the analysis of propaganda during the Coronavirus. Although China is trying to impose itself as ahelping nation in order to restore the image of a major power in the world, it will be very difficult for it to cover the facts that, firstly, for a long period of time it has been trying to hide the outbreak, and secondly, while attempting to thwart its spreading, it has committed a number of violations of human rights and freedoms.

Meanwhile, Russia has come under pressure from criticism for the rise in the number of people suffering from pneumonia, and it this is considered to be in fact a cover up for real cases with Coronavirus. As a reminder, the official numbers of people infected with the Coronavirus in Russia are very small compared to the population, around 500 out of 144.5 million population. In addition, it is important for Russia to show itself as a serious country that can deal with this situation, but also to help other states.

Both countries desperately need to show themselves as super powers in this moment, but also to appear more humane than the European Union. In this way, with the help of propaganda, both countries manage to present themselves as humanitarian, and more humane than the European Union and the West. Any kind of assistance is welcome, but if used for propaganda purposes, such as these, it causes divisions and additional mistrust in the institutions, which is the last thing that we need at this time. In fact, it is contrary to all pledges of unity and solidarity in the world.

Although Euro-Atlantic integration has been a strategic goal of North Macedonia since 1993, and citizens’ support for these processes has been increasing for decades, the question is what is the interest of certain local media to incite divisions and belittle the aspirations and desires of the citizens of Northern Macedonia with such propagandistic texts.

 

The EU helped Italy and other European states

 

Despite the pompeous announcement that Russia, China and Cuba are the only countries that “seriously” help Italy, while the EU is just a silent witness of the drama that her member state faces, the media that reported on this topic, intentionally or not, omitted one very important fact. A few days ago, on 19.03.2020, immediately after Italy’s requests, the European Commission has made an urgent decision to grant 50 million euro financial aid. The decision enters into force 48 hours after its adoption. This means that one day before the assistance of Russia, China and Cuba arrived, on 21.03.2020, the aid of the European Union has already been in force.

The European Commission approved aid to other countries as well

 

European Union assistance to France

 

The European Commission has approved three country-aid schemes to support the French economy following the spread of the Coronavirus. Two schemes enable the French Public Investment Bank “Brifrans” to provide state guarantees for commercial loans and credits for companies with up to 5,000 employees, and a scheme for providing bank guarantees to banks for loans intended for all types of companies. The French plan is expected to mobilize more than 300 billion euro of assistance to companies affected by the economic impact of the spread of the Coronavirus.

 

Тhe EU has approved similar assistance for Denmark

 

The European Commission has secured a 130-million-euro plan to help small and medium-sized enterprises hit by the Coronavirus outbreak, in accordance with EU country-aid regulations. The Commission has concluded that the Danish guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises will contribute to managing the economic impact of the Coronavirus in Denmark.

 

The European Commission provided assistance to Germany as well

 

The European Commission has approved two schemes for state aid to the German economy due to difficulties with the Coronavirus. A loan program has been provided, covering up to 90 percent of the credit risk of companies of all types, and assistance in other forms.

 

Help for Portugal too

 

The European Commission has approved a 3-billion aid to Portugal for small and medium-sized companies that were hit by the Coronavirus, in four different areas, such as tourism, hotels, processing industry, tourist agency activities, events organization etc. The schemes are intended to limit the risks associated with providing operating loans for those companies that are seriously affected by the economic impact following the spread of the Coronavirus. The intention is for these companies to have sufficient liquidity in order to be able to save jobs and continue their operations.

 

EU also helps countries repatriate stranded citizens

 

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has so far facilitated the repatriation of 1,381 EU citizens to Europe from Wuhan, Japan, Oakland, Morocco and Tunisia since the beginning of the outbreak. Both High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, together with the European External Action Service and the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, are working to support swift return of EU citizens from third countries.

 

Help to earthquake-stricken Croatia at the time of the Coronavirus

 

The European Commission has activated the European Union’s civil protection mechanism to help earthquake-hit Croatia in the middle of the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The European Commission assisted in sending tents, beds, mattresses, heaters and sleeping bags from Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and Italy, which were the first countries to respond to the EU call.

 

Given that any help is welcome, we will leave it to the citizens to draw their own conclusions whether the EU has really left Italy and other countries on their own.

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