Baltic security experts showcase the regional importance of EU and NATO

  • 2024-07-01
  • Otto Tabuns, The Baltic Security Foundation

For five years the Baltic Security Foundation (BSF) has been bringing together security experts to foster and promote Baltic security and defense. Expanding from the initial focus on the three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the individual and institutional partnernships of the Foundation include representatives from the Baltic Sea region countries, the European Union and North America. This allows membership to not only local security researchers and stakeholders but also others who specialize in the issues that are also present in the Baltic area. 

The BSF team is proud of the experience of colleagues being respected in other roles, too. The president of BSF Mr. Olevs Nikers was invited and hosted by the National Defense University in Washington for his Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program. Additionally, Mr. Nikers has also been appointed to advise the Minister of Defense of Latvia. Our information security researcher Ms. Ieva Remerte has been appointed as Research Assistant in the International Law Commission at the United Nations in Geneva. Our defense researcher Mr. Markuss Kozlinskis joined the Public Policy and Nuclear Threats workshop-in-residence at the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. BSF director Otto Tabuns was invited to speak at the opening of the Baltic Advocacy Days organized by the Joint Baltic American National Committee and has been selected by the Center for European Policy Analysis for the James S. Denton Transatlantic Fellowship program.

The work of our colleagues has garnered an increasing interest of young scholars and youth leaders from Europe and the United States to research the Baltic case in the context of regional and international security. The BSF has facilitated this by hosting visiting fellows and interns from several universities on both sides of the Atlantic. The students represent higher education institutions in Europe such as the University of Groningen, Riga Graduate School of Law (RGSL) and the University of Glasgow. They have been joined by peers from such American institutions as the Texas A&M University Bush School, George Mason University, Tufts University and Stanford University. At the beginning of the year the Foundation hosted an interdisciplinary group of students from the University of Delaware, researching societal security, identity and national security perceptions. This summer, the BSF is hosting Joel Perriard from the Bush School and Reinis Rorbaks from RGSL for their defense research internships. These efforts are part of the BSF Transatlantic Security Exchange program. 

The BSF team has actively continued its Education Program on topics associated with the mission of the foundation. Otto Tabuns was invited to speak with diplomacy students at RGSL to answer questions on key issues of international relations today and provide professional and research advice. Additionally, in the third workshop of Riga-based Youth Political Society, Otto Tabuns discussed youth involvement in democracy with Latvian and Ukrainian students. They identified challenges directed at the democratic procedures in Latvia and the Baltic region, security implications of issues associated with elections and potential short-term and long-term solutions for increased youth involvement in civic society. Olevs Nikers gave a guest lecture at the Riga Business School Crisis Management Course on the role of society in the national readiness to deal with the most important security challenges. Meeting with students who plan to join and lead different businesses, Nikers focused on scenarios that the students need to research for the benefit of the resilience of their preferred future industries. Among activities outside of Riga, Otto Tabuns met with school directors and student researchers in Jelgava to brief them on questions about international and European security, international law and conflict management, as well as information integrity and security. 

Ukraine is a particular focus of the Foundation due to its wide-ranging impact on the Baltic region. Lessons learned from the Russian aggression for the Nordic-Baltic Five are currently being researched together with the Jamestown Foundation. The findings of this research are going to be shared during the NATO Washington Summit in July. The BSF team is also continuing to help the Ukrainian refugees in the Baltic States. The largest number of people have been helped via language courses organized by the BSF with support from the U.S. government, private donors and volunteers. Since August 2022, our intensive language courses, weekly conversation club and a writers workshop has benefitted more than 800 Ukrainian refugees. The outcomes include a better integration in their host countries by improving their communication with host societies and increasing their employability in the host countries, making them less dependent on others. Another result significant for both the refugees and the host societies is the advanced ability for the refugees to diversify their information space so that they do not have to rely on sources controlled by the Russian government.

The Baltic Sea region contains the external border of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as well as that of the European Union making it crucial for our allies as well as such states whose interests do not align with ours. This situation requires cross-border cooperation to understand and deal with the issues that apply to several regional countries at the same time. For that purpose, BSF is providing expertise on the three Baltic States in research conducted together with German, Latvian and Finnish partners on challenges at EU’s North-East external borders. While regional conventional defense capabilities are continuously strengthened, a notable remaining challenge in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is information integrity. One of the solutions provided by BSF is a joint project with the Civic Resilience Initative to monitor and analyze disinformation, as well as develop toolkits and gamified learning tools for educators and students to be more resilient against the hybrid and assymetric threats facing our region today.

Reach out to us at [email protected] to discuss your interest and ideas, as well as potential involvement in our established efforts to promote and foster Baltic regional security and defense.