August 21, 2015
NATO STRATCOM in Riga will make a significant contribution to strengthening the Alliance’s capabilities
On Thursday, August 20, Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma delivered the opening address at the high-level session “The Role of Strategic Communication in the Process of NATO Transformation” of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, and expressed gratitude to NATO partners for their contribution to Centre’s development and acquisition of experience, reports BC press secretary to the Prime Minister Aiva Rozenberga.
“Currently, the Member States’ societies are challenged by new propaganda techniques. Together, we have to find the right answers and solutions to these challenges to strengthen true democracy,” said L. Straujuma at the opening of the conference.
L. Straujuma noted that the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence will make a significant contribution to strengthening the Alliance’s capabilities. “It is our job as political leaders to turn the Centre’s expertise and recommendations into practical policy measures at the level of both NATO and the Member States,” said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister emphasized that Latvia is committed to strengthen the Alliance by increasing defence budget to 2% of GDP by 2018.
If in 2012 strategic communication seemed something mystical, now it is the reality, President Raimonds Vejonis said during the official opening of NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (STRATCOM) in Riga yesterday.
The president emphasized the importance of strategic communication in today’s digital era and hybrid war threats.
“Each day there is fight going on over people’s minds and hearts,” said Vejonis, adding that today requires one to be prepared for any kind of situation, and the importance of strategic communication will be increasing with every day.
Vejonis wished the STRATCOM team every success and new innovative ideas. He also promised that Latvia will do everything in its power to live up to NATO’s expectations.
President Dalia Grybauskaite also attended the inauguration ceremony of the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (StratCom COE).
The main objective of the Center, which was established in Riga last July, is to strengthen information security, protect the public space of NATO countries against disinformation and lies, be engaged in the formation of the Alliance’s strategic communications doctrine, prepare and establish the best practices on how to expose hostile propaganda, and counter information attacks.
“A third NATO Center of Excellence has been accredited to the Baltic States – it means that our region is very important for the Alliance. NATO not only understands very well the threats faced by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia but also values our knowledge and expertise in fighting these threats,” the President said.
The NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence has been operational in Lithuania since 2012 while Estonia has hosted the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence since 2008. All NATO Centers in the Baltic countries are dedicated to counter newly emerging security challenges. The objective of these Centers is to protect energy infrastructure, counter increasingly stronger cyber attacks and attempts to incite discord and manipulate people’s consciousness.
According to the President, propaganda is especially dangerous since it can destabilize the situation in the region, create a favorable climate for a military intervention and break people’s will to resist.
Lithuania pays special attention to the fight against propaganda. The EU plan on strategic communication to counter disinformation has been prepared at the initiative of our country. The President has also initiated amendments to the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public, providing for strict responsibility for the incitement of war and discord.
Lithuania has also already joined the NATO StratCom Center in Riga. One Lithuanian officer already works at the Center. A second representative of our country will begin to work at the Center in September.
Altogether, seven members of the Alliance – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy – have joined the activities of the Center. In the near future, the Netherlands, the United States of America and Finland, which is a NATO partner, are also planning to send their experts.
The inauguration ceremony of the Center was also attended by U.S. Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse as well as by the representatives of the governments and armed forces of NATO countries.