UPDATED: Sweden will join NATO's Riga STRATCOMCOE

Take note – story published 7 years ago

Sweden has confirmed it will become the next country to join the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (STRATCOMCOE) which is based in Riga, Swedish Radio reported September 30. 

The decision comes despite the fact that Sweden is not a member of the NATO alliance and sees it follow another non-NATO country, Finland, into the fold.

Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman confirmed the government had taken a decision on September 29 to join STRATCOMCOE as a result of increasing attempts to influence public opinion in Sweden by covert means, which have included forged letters purporting to be from officials and Russia-backed attempts to spread disinformation via social media channels.

Ygeman insisted joining the center would not see Sweden "becoming part of someone else's propaganda".

"We will increase our own knowledge and ability and we will be helping to increase the knowledge and the ability of other countries," Swedish Radio reported Ygeman as saying.

The Riga-based STRATCOMCOE center was formally opened last year and operates as a research center for NATO member states and "partner countries", analysing and investigating various strategic communications phenomena and publishing academic reports.

It describes its purpose in these terms: "NATO Strategic Communications is the coordinated and appropriate use of NATO communications activities and capabilities in support of Alliance policies, operations and activities, and in order to advance NATO's aims."

Currently in addition to Latvia there are six "sponsoring nations" (UK, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, Germany and Italy), one "partner nation" (Finland) and three other countries in the process of joining (Sweden, France and the Netherlands).

Stockholm-based strategic defense expert Anke Schmidt-Felzmann, a researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs told LSM it was important for Sweden to gain access to the developing expertize of STRATCOMCOE since Sweden is "one of the main targets of malign disinformation activities and influence operations."

"Secondly, joining the center sends an important signal also to Russia and the jihadist networks targeting Sweden and different societal groups that the Swedish authorities are taking the challenge seriously and responding effectively," she said.

"Sweden has a lot to contribute to STRATCOMCOE from past experiences and current monitoring of information flows directed against Sweden, as a closer cooperation and exchange of information between Sweden and the other Baltic Sea states and other EU partners and NATO countries will help all sides identify patterns and structures of info ops directed against them and hopefully help them develop more effective routines and strategies to respond," Schmidt-Felzmann added.

"The seconded expert that Sweden is sending to Riga is a very suitable person, so I have high hopes that this expert will make a difference for the work and information flows between Sweden and the center plus its partners, at both ends," she concluded.


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