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EU, NATO chiefs inaugurate new center to counter hybrid threats
From:Xinhua  |  2017-10-03 01:01

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HELSINKI, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation between NATO and the European Union (EU) was underlined in Helsinki on Monday at the opening ceremony of the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE).

In his opening remarks, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto warned against alarmism, saying "We must avoid inflating the threats."

The Finnish president noted the EU and NATO share the same security environment. Niinisto said the joint presence of both the NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Frederica Mogherini signified the determination to counter threats together.

NATO, meanwhile, said in a press release that the center is an initiative of the Finnish government, supported by 11 other nations, as well as NATO and the EU.

"The center will make an important contribution to our security," the NATO chief said in his speech.

Stoltenberg said hybrid threats range from covert to overt, and "from tweets to tanks."

Mogherini said the Center reflects "an unprecedented level of cooperation" between the EU and NATO. She said individual countries would not be able to cope with the complex threats alone, but can do it together.

Hanna Smith, Director of Strategic Planning and Response of the Center, noted the Center can facilitate more dialogue between the member states.

"We have to be able to identify a threat and and to see if it is a threat or not," said the director. Asked about access to intelligence sources, she said the work of the Center will be research oriented and classified information would not be needed.

The budget of the Helsinki Hybrid CoE is relatively small, at 1.5 million euros, and half of it is met by Finland.

Of the 12 members, Finland and Sweden are not in NATO, and Norway and the U.S. are not in the EU.

Asked why the Center has only 12 members, Stoltenberg said other countries could join later or cooperate with the Center.