Prague hosted a Wikimedia Europe meeting

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On Friday 9 June, Wikimedia Czech Republic hosted the opening of the General Assembly of the newly established Wikimedia Europe, which brings together the advocacy activities of the European Wikimedia movement. On this occasion, a memorandum was signed with the National Library, which develops cooperation between WMCZ and NL in several ways. Deputy Prime Minister for Digitalisation Ondřej Profant, Deputy Minister of Culture Ondřej Chrást, Member and Quaestor of the European Parliament Marcel Kolaja and other respected guests spoke at the meeting.

Representatives of Wikimedia Europe, guests from the Ministry of Culture and the European Parliament attended

All present were welcomed by Anna Mazgal, Director of Wikimedia Europe. Wikimedia Europe currently has 21 members and we are delighted that the first official general meeting could take place in sunny Prague. One of the main objectives of this newly formed organisation is to play an even stronger role in shaping European regulation in the areas of free knowledge, access to information and freedom of expression.

Wikimedia Austria’s Executive Director Claudia Garad, who is also President of Wikimedia Europe, said she is pleased that Wikimedia Europe now has a clear structure and direction. The first general assembly of more than 20 Wikimedia Europe members took place all Friday to set the scene for next year’s activities.

Photo: Petr Freitag, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The importance of European cooperation in an age of disinformation

For Wikimedia Czech Republic Board member Martin Urbanec and executive director Klára Joklová spoke. The latter mentioned the concrete positive impacts that Wikimedia projects and cooperation with cultural institutions have on people’s lives. Martin Urbanec spoke about the importance of partnerships that bring relevant resources and information to Wikimedia projects. Especially nowadays when we have to face disinformation.

PHOTO: Richard Sekerák (WMCZ), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation Ondřej Profant mentioned the importance of free knowledge for all. He stressed the importance of Wikimedia projects and highlighted in particular Wikidata, through which databases of state and cultural institutions can be linked to Wikidata and thus source information.

His words were complemented by MEP Marcel Kolaja, who praised the Wikimedia movement for working so hard to make all human knowledge publicly available and free. He stressed that the internet is not just made up of big tech corporations and that it is thanks to Wikimedia projects that other creative forms of work and projects on the internet can be lobbied for. He emphasized that we need strong Creative Commons advocacy in Europe, which, as mentioned above, is one of the main goals of Wikimedia Europe.

Memorandum between the Czech National Library and Wikimedia CZ

The General Director of the National Library, Tomáš Foltýn, pointed out that we are in a data war and that it is the duty of the National Library and other cultural institutions to share as much relevant data as possible with the public. He highlighted the importance of cooperation with Wikidata and described the fact that today he officially signed the memorandum in the presence of a representative of the Ministry of Culture, a member of the European Parliament and members of Wikimedia Europe as something extraordinary. He thanked the WMCZ staff and volunteers involved in the cooperation with the NL and his team at the NL.

The last speaker was Ondřej Chrást, Deputy Minister of Culture, who expressed his delight that the National Library, which is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture, is leading the way in releasing databases and free data.

“We are facing fake news and only trustworthy information can protect us. And it is Wikimedia that is fighting all over the world for public and free access to information, something that is both absolutely unique and extremely necessary in this day and age. This collaboration is a case study and a proof that insitutions of Ministry of Culture can work with organisations like Wikimedia to contribute to free public access to information,” he added.“

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