Angela Grămadă: Chisinau needs specialists who can communicate in times of crisis

Moldovan authorities need communicators in key public institutions to effectively inform the population and avoid panic in times of crisis. Also, central authorities need to pay more attention to local needs and capitalize on the expertise of the media and NGOs at this level. This is the opinion of Angela Grămadă, head of the Association of Experts for Security and Global Affairs.

Asked to formulate some recommendations to the government during an IPN debate, Angela Grămadă cited Ukraine’s experience:

“The international public has been very impressed with the way Ukrainian citizens acted: that they knew where the nearest shelters were, what measures they should take immediately, they did not panic, they did not invade the shops, as it happened during the pandemic in several neighboring countries, including Romania. They knew how to manage their emotions and the resources at their disposal so that they could last more than three months. This means that the authorities in Chisinau should also identify some communicators in key public institutions, including those in charge of security.”

“If we look at Ukraine, that’s exactly what they did: they communicated a lot to the citizens about the way the negotiations for the prisoners, for the green corridors, about the shelters were conducted. They had well-developed applications in which people were notified that an attack on one city or another was about to take place. People knew immediately, television was constantly communicating with these institutions so that the information could reach the citizens. I believe that this is a big problem for the authorities in Chisinau, that they do not have such communicators”.

According to the expert, the officials who appear in front of the public should not have “an air of arrogance, that I know better or that this piece of information is a state secret”. “Let me give you a concrete example: the attacks that took place in the Transnistrian region, they were incorrectly communicated to the citizens. Because, when the authorities did not have too many details about what happened there, they had to go out in front of the inhabitants (on both banks) and say: information will appear later, in a short period of time, and during this period, please do not access information that is not verified from official sources, do not let yourselves fooled by propaganda managed by authorities which does not act in the national interest of the Republic of Moldova”, added Angela Grămadă .

According to the expert, the Moldovan authorities should identify communicators who know how to provide “exactly the amount of information that can be transmitted, but so as not to increase the level of panic and increase the number of people who decide to leave the Republic of Moldova”.

Another suggestion is for the authorities not to limit themselves to adopting legislation to eradicate propaganda or symbols associated with the military aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, “but to start sanctioning those involved in such processes and who disregard the content of these rules (...) I saw that on May 9 some have defied the law and laughed that the authorities are unable to enforce these laws. And they continue to do so because they have received instructions from outside”.

A third suggestion from Angela Grămadă is that the central authorities should focus more on the needs of the local authorities. “There, at the local level, the situation is much more dramatic, in terms of civil protection plans, communication mechanisms at the regional level between different institutions able to provide assistance in case of need. I mean hospitals, firefighters, police and so on. Communication between these institutions is quite poor. And this is because (...) certain state resources are not managed correctly and because due attention is not paid from the center”, believes the expert.

One last suggestion is to invest in civil protection programs. “There must be a partnership between the central and local authorities, but this partnership must be extended to the press and to local NGOs, too. Because, very often, the existing expertise among the local media and civil society, in terms of analysis, recommendations and suggestions, is neglected, often consciously by the central authority”, concluded Angela Grămadă.

The debate was the 246th installment of the “Political Culture” Series, run by IPN with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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