Estonia joins the new European centre countering hybrid threats

Estonia has joined the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats – three months after the centre was established in Helsinki and following a domestic criticism of missing out.

The main activity of the centre, which will commence its work in the second half of 2017, is developing strategic level dialogue and consultation between its member states, the European Union and NATO. The centre will conduct research into hybrid threats and the methods to counter them, and also exercises to improve both the individual capabilities of its member states and interoperability for countering hybrid threats.

Estonia’s secretary of state, Heiki Loot, signed the joining memorandum in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, together with the representatives of Norway and Spain.

Loot said in a statement that the centre would hopefully further strengthen the cooperation between NATO and the EU in the security field. “The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats helps strengthen security in Estonia and the whole of Europe. Estonia is ready to actively contribute its knowledge and experience to the work of the centre and to developing the capability for countering hybrid threats.”

Missing out

The centre was established in Helsinki on 11 April 2017 by Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. At the time, the Estonian government came under domestic criticism for missing the opportunity to become a founding member. The former Estonian president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, called it “a complete and utter foreign policy failure” on Twitter.

However, Estonian prime minister Jüri Ratas announced on 19 April that the country would join the centre. The government said that since Estonia participated in the discussions leading to the forming of the centre, it can still be considered a founding member – even if it joined at a later date.

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The cover image is illustrative.

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and Politics & Society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.