Civic Council – Talks Across Europe #3

How do culture and the media safeguard democratic values and contribute to the idea of ‘a European people’?

Program editor & Moderator
Anne-Marijn Epker

In this final session of the Civic Council on European Democracy we discuss with great thinkers from Poland ánd other European countries how culture and the media can, on the one hand, safeguard democratic values, but on the other hand be effective propaganda tools for radical-right wing politicians to spread populism and nationalism.

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Over three decades after its first free democratic election, Poland’s meticulously built democracy and civil society are facing extreme challenges. Since 2015, Poland has registered an exceptional degree of decline in democratic quality, looking at the electoral process, media freedom, and judicial review. During that period, the rule of law, human rights, minority rights and the free press have been violated by the ruling right-wing government.

Given these crucial challenges for Polish society that are also found in other European countries, the role of culture and free media in sheltering the values of democracy have become more evident. Especially in these times of ever-increasing polarization between pro- and anti-democratic forces both leveraging cultural trends and the media to further their own political agenda. What is the role of culture and the media in protecting democracies both in Poland and Europe and how can they contribute to the idea of ‘a European demos’?

What is the Civic Council on European Democracy?

The Civic Council is an initiative of the Forum on European Culture in Amsterdam. This project is carried out in close cooperation with Gazeta Wyborcza and European Alternatives. During the three sessions of the Civic Council, we combine the perspectives of European thinkers, civil society actors and artists to create new ideas on how to improve our European democracies and bring Europeans closer together. 

To get an idea of what the earlier Civic Councils looked like, please feel free to watch the videos on our Youtube channel.

This program is part of the Forum on European Culture and is made possible by Europe for Citizens.


Miłosz WiatrowskiHistorian
Kalypso NicolaïdisDirector of the Center for International Studies at Oxford University
Reka Kinga PappEditor in Chief Eurozine
Simon StraussWriter, theater critic, and historian
Alicja GescinskaAuthor
Rytis ZemkauskasJournalist, writer, broadcaster and film director
Zuzanna LewandowskaProgram director of Wyborcza Philanthropies
Sylwia Gregorczyk – AbramCo-Founder of the Justice Defense Committee and the Free Courts Foundation
Zofia KrólEditor-in-chief for Dwutygodnik
Grzegorz JarzynaArtistic leader for TR Warszawa
Bassem AkikiMusic Director of the Wrocław Opera
Olga BrzezińskaCo-founder of the City of Literature Foundation
Zuzanna RadzikVice President of the Forum For Dialogue
Yoeri AlbrechtDirector De Balie
Agata SzczęśniakJournalist & Sociologist


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