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27-06-2019 19:30

Welcoming address by the Director of the Press and Information Office, Ms Sophie Michaelides, at the Foreign Ministry and the PIO Reception

Welcome.

I do wish to emphasize that your presence here is highly important, as it signifies the conscious will and commitment to concretely enhance our relations both on bilateral level and within the context of the European Union.

A Union that admittedly faces all kinds of challenges in a world that has become increasingly complex and subject to rapid change. No wonder that European citizens appear unsettled and anxious that the work of the EU and its Institutions is far from their reality and needs.

Thankfully there is a shared understanding that the only way we can address these challenges is to create a stronger, more united and democratic EU that is:

  1. protective of its citizens,
  2. competitive,
  3. fair,
  4. sustainable,
  5. and influential.

I am sure our Foreign Minister will talk more extensively on these five pillars of policy recommendations for the future of Europe, as they do set the Union’s strategic agenda for the next five years. 

On my part, as head of the PIO, the Communication Authority of the Republic of Cyprus, I wish to emphasize that a decisive factor for the successful implementation of these strategic priorities will be how we engage European citizens in this process.

  • Adequate planning,
  • transparency
  • and an integrated approach with clear definition of roles and objectives,

-are the tools to interact successfully with citizens.

Strategic communication isn’t just about addressing issues and informing; it is also about engaging and understanding your audience. This process is no picnic for Government communications professionals. That is why, we at the PIO and our colleagues across Europe, find ourselves in a constant effort to be creatively brave. We need to think outside the box, go against the norms, utilize new channels, work with influencers, listen more acutely and use old tactics in new ways, in order to overcome mistrust, and combat both misinformation and disinformation. Strengthening and expanding the cooperation between EU countries at operational level, as well as sharing best practices in the communications field, are even more urgent.

The importance of creativity, collective effort and exchange of expertise is particularly evident in the field of crisis management communications. For example, the crisis of climate change, has become overwhelming, and here I need to applaud our President, Mr Anastasiades, for his  Initiative on Climate Change and stand by our Minister’s efforts to promote it internationally. 

The Issue of climate change is indeed one of the 2 major issues of concern, hand in hand with the ongoing migration crisis. The way we talk about both, the language we use and how we frame the discussion, not only creates or destroys the solidarity between member states, which is necessary in order to face the issues together and solve the problems by picking up our fair, just and promised weight, but also affects the way people think and act. 

And the way people act or react, has become an important pillar for successful strategic government communication in times of crisis, since digital technology and Artificial Intelligence are now part of the team.

We have progressed from doing digital communication, to communicating in a completely digital environment. We operate in a media environment where speed is essential, since a tweet or a post can steal or create the headlines. And sometimes, God forbit, start a war.

We are, as you dear Diplomats and journalists, an important and essential part of the chain where the Political, Diplomatic, Media, Communication, Information and the Technology industries come together with Society, and create efficient networks of cooperation. Because, no one can keep the dialogue going between the “message industry” and the “receiving end”, ALONE.

Distinguished guests,

At this point I have to switch off my journalistic background and stop talking, so as to warmly welcome you and thank you for your presence.

Allow me to thank Mr Korneliou for giving us the opportunity to be part of his team within our big European family, and let me give the floor to His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs, my dear friend Nicos Christodoulides.

Thank you.

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AM/SCH