Closing remarks by Minister Soini at the Hybrid Challenge 2017 Seminar

Closing remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Mr Timo Soini in the high-level seminar Hybrid Challenge 2017, 6.September 2017.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I understand that you have had an interesting and fruitful discussion on “the Hybrid Challenge”. It is clear that our unity and success are interlinked in countering the hybrid threat we now face. Hence, it is a pleasure to see so many countries represented here today.

In April, at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding establishing this Centre of Excellence, I underlined the whole-of-society approach, the new reality of cyber venues as well as table top exercises.

I was happy to hear that these three themes have been discussed also in today´s seminar.

Firstly, strategic response with whole-of-society approach: The work done in the Multinational Capability Development Campaign is an example of achievements we can reach through cooperation.

Deepening the common understanding of hybrid threats helps us to improve our resilience and capabilities for both prevention and response.

Secondly, cyber space vulnerabilities for hybrid influencing: Cyber crime, cyber terrorism or cyber methods of hybrid influencing are not purely technical questions. They are highly political and strategic issues. Cyber can be used as a tool in broader hybrid influencing – election-related issues being a recent example of this.

Thirdly, table top exercises: EU CYBRID exercise organised by the Estonian Presidency is a very topical initiative and deserves congratulations. This is an example to follow. It would be important for the EU and NATO to exercise jointly. The parallel and coordinated exercises of EU PACE and NATO CMX are promising examples of how we can find practical solutions.

Since April, a lot has happened. Now, the number of participating countries has increased from nine to twelve, the Centre has a legal personality, Finland has provided core resources,  and the Secretariat has seven experts to run the functions of the Centre.  I am pleased that the Hybrid Centre of Excellence has reached Initial Operational Capability in the beginning of September.

More importantly, this seminar has shown that the multinational Centre is not only paragraphs in the Memorandum of Understanding. We have witnessed that all twelve participating countries are indeed committed to this cooperation. We have heard that the EU and NATO are committed to boost their cooperation by using the Centre of Excellence as a  platform.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to underline that the hybrid challenge is not only about analysing actors of hybrids threats. It is also about self-assessment of vulnerabilities of our societies.

Therefore, today in a joint conference with my Swedish colleague Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, we introduced an initiative to assess the hybrid threats and risks in the Baltic Sea region in the light of possible hybrid operations. Assessment could be done in close cooperation between the EU and NATO. This initiative, if accepted by the Center, could be useful in developing a joint self-assessment also in other regions like Mediterranean region or Black Sea region.

The Hybrid Centre of Excellence is an effort to prepare, to detect and to defend.

On behalf of the Government of Finland, I would like to thank Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States as well as the EU and NATO for joining us in taking the lead. All of you have joined in the Centre’s activities and decision making. You have sent your delegation here today to launch the activities of the Centre.

This ownership of participating countries and institutions gives me confidence in the future of this new form of cooperation.

Thank you for your attention.