NATO Strategic Communications Center unveiled in Riga

State officials and military brass descended on Riga Thursday for the official launch of NATO's new Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in the city.

At a ceremony held at the new facility in the Pardaugava district of the capital was attended by Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and US Senator John McCain.  

Strategic Communciations is defined by NATO as the coordination of public diplomacy, public affairs, information operations and psychological operations.

"Every day the battle for people's hearts and minds takes place," Vejonis told the assembled guests.

"Strategic communications plays a key role in the information age ad I am very honored that Latvia has been chosen as a partner by NATO... Latvia is determined to contribute," Vejonis added.

Grybauskaite described the opening of the center as "another milestone in our defense" and said she was optimistic about efforts to counter Russian propaganda.

"NATO will cope with the challenge as it did on so many occasions... disinformation is short-lived and ultimately will fail," she said before all the contributing nations playing a role in the center helped to snip a ribbon.

After the ceremony, McCain said "Everyone knows that Vladimir Putin is conducting a disinformation and propaganda campaign not only in Ukraine but in the Baltics."

The Kremlin offensive "has had some effect, particularly among Russian-speakers" he suggested, without specifying exactly how the effects had manifested themselves.

Outside the Latvian National Library, which is hosting a large conference Latvian MEP and former Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks told LSM how he had played a role in devising the concept of the center (with apologies for the low sound quality).

Artis Pabriks MEP on NATO STRATCOMCOE center foundation

    In an address to the conference, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said: "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."

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