Hybrid threats are a challenge for both Nato and the European Union, President Sauli Niinistö reminded in his speech at the inauguration ceremony of the European Centre for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki on Monday.
“The threats exploit our lack of understanding, preparation and foresight. Often we may see what the adversary is doing, but we fail to understand what it actually means,” he stated.
Hybrid threats, he pointed out, come in a variety of forms and are designed to exploit economic freedoms and vulnerabilities in critical societal functions in order to apply influence on their target.
“Hybrid threats call for enhanced awareness. We have to understand – at a strategic level – the aims and means of our challengers. We need to identify our vulnerabilities, and we need to be prepared and resilient,” he emphasised.
Niinistö also warned against inflating the threat and succumbing to alarmism, saying he has observed such tendencies in debates concerning the threat posed by Russia. The European Centre for Countering Hybrid Threats, he added, will hopefully make measured, research-based contributions to such debates.
Hybrid threats are not always external, he also reminded.
“Our own divisions create opportunities for hybrid threats. Identifying and abusing them is always a delight for external actors. We must take better care of the cohesion of our own societies,” said Niinistö.
The opening ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre), Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of Nato, and Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Stoltenberg similarly voiced his confidence that the centre of excellence will be able to make important contributions to the security environment.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva