Labelled as “Bridging the Gap in Euro-Mediterranean relations: Youth as drivers of Cohesion”, on 16-17 September 2022, more than 40 young researchers from all over the Euro-Mediterranean area attended the V Euromed Young Researchers Forum in Mollina (Málaga).
This year’s edition tackled how the war in Ukraine has incited strong reactions, particularly of Western governments who responded swiftly with measures such as military support to Ukraine, sanctions and humanitarian aid. Analyses of media and social media discourses reveal how the European Union’s (EU) response to the conflict has often been met by accusations of double standards, racism and hypocrisy in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, epitomising pre-existing misunderstandings. These analyses also reveal that propaganda and disinformation campaigns play an important role in amplifying certain discourses and influencing public opinion. This challenging context could put a strain Euro-Mediterranean relations in an increasingly geopolitically volatile region.
This Forum invited participants to reflect on how young people have perceived the war in Ukraine on both shores of the Mediterranean as well as the responses to the war; analyse misconceptions (which messages are being spread), the actors and platforms involved both in spreading and in combatting disinformation campaigns, and their potential impacts; discuss how narratives can be reconciled; examine the role of youth in fostering more cohesion and putting forward solutions and recommendations to bridge the growing gaps between both shores of the Mediterranean.
This report provides an overview of all the different sessions held during the event: 1. Two working sessions where the participants presented their research under the topics of disinformation and social cleaveages related to the war in Ukraine; 2. A practitioners’ perspectives session, where the participants engaged in an open space for dialogue with Mr. Luis Miguel Bueno Padilla, a Spanish career diplomat and the EU Spokesperson in Arabic for the MENA region, on the issues related to EU’s efforts to tackle disinformation; 3. The Policy Talks, an exchange between young researchers and policy stakeholders where the main conclusions and recommendations from the working groups were presented.