War is a road to nowhere. Journalism must contribute to a return to peace

  • 24.02.2022
  • UBJ
  • Snezhana Todorova

Only dialogue and mutual respect can lead humanity to a good future. The voice of reason and responsibility must prevail over the thunder of weapons in order to give diplomatic and humane solutions a chance again.

The world is facing a severe test - after a long pumping of tension and confrontation in the clash of geopolitical interests over Ukraine, Russia has today launched military action on Ukrainian territory, which has shaken the current international security system, which has already been fundamentally shaken  by previous wars and confrontations over the past three decades.

No matter how many substantial arguments are being put forward to justify these Russian actions, which undoubtedly have their own long and painful background in the present Ukrainian which has been going on for eight years now, the fact is that we are witnessing a shocking military clash with destruction and inevitable casualties between two brotherly, Slavic peoples with a common root. We are witnessing something totally unacceptable - bombings and rocket strikes in the heart of Europe in the 21st century! And this takes place on a land that suffered immensely during the last world war... There is hardly a normal human being whose first impulse in this situstion would not be to appeal: 'Stop the war! We want peace!"

Of course, journalists, as chroniclers of world events, processes and interconnections, are aware of the brutal episodes of military encroachments against numerous countries and peoples that have accumulated over the years. Abuses that go against international law and human morality. Let us just recall the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia, or the war of the United States and the "coalition of the willing" against Iraq with the fabricated pretext of non-existent chemical weapons... We can add the wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria...

International relations and the credibility of diplomacy have suffered greatly during these dramatic decades. A vicious model of forceful solutions was imposed without consideration for the other, mainly smaller partners on the world stage.

Today, we are seeing a similar style applied by Russia to Ukraine. It emerged after a long accumulation of painful and unresolved problems over the years, which have come to the world's attention in recent months of constant escalation. There was a general expectation that, despite those tensions, solutions to these problems would be sought in the field of diplomacy. But the turn to military options generated enormous shock, disappointment and anxiety.

We all know the maxim that the worst peace is also better than the most just war. When the guns start talking, it is always the innocent civilians who suffer the most and pay the highest price. Again, they are the direct victims of sanctions.

And in the war of information which is an inevitable companion to military tragedies, and which have seen unfolding in full force in recent months, the first casualty is the truth...

It is very difficult now, in the stream of so contradictory and even mutually exclusive information, intertwined with propaganda suggestions, to discern the truth.  It is difficult even for professionally experienced journalists to have developed such skills. And what to say about the broad sections of society, thrown against their will into a geopolitical turmoil as profound as the current one...

Let us hope that the journalistic community both in this country and around the world will now live up to its public mission and responsibility. Let us hope that further risks and manipulations are not fuelled. May we all heed first and foremost our human duty to assist the restorstion of peace as soon as possible. Let the voice of reason and responsibility be loud enough. May the way be reopened for diplomatic and humane solutions that take into account the pains and burdens of all those hitherto unheard and ignored. Only dialogue and mutual respect can lead humanity to a better future. The opposite is a road to nowhere.

Snezhana Todorova,

Chairwoman of the Managing Board of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists