Four new member states join Estonia-based NATO CCDCOE

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur addressing the CCDCOE flag raising ceremony, on the occasion of both the organization's 15th anniversary, and the accession of Japan, Ukraine, Ireland and Iceland.
Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur addressing the CCDCOE flag raising ceremony, on the occasion of both the organization's 15th anniversary, and the accession of Japan, Ukraine, Ireland and Iceland. Source: NATO CCDCOE

The Tallinn-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) welcomed four new member nations this week, bringing the total to thirty-nine.

On the 15th anniversary of its foundation, the CCDCOE family was joined by Ireland, Iceland, Japan and Ukraine, an event marked by a flag-hoisting ceremony at the organization's headquarters on Filtri tee in the capital.

CCDCOE Director Mart Noorma said: "I am truly grateful that Ireland, Iceland, Japan, and Ukraine have decided to join us."

"We are delighted to have like-minded nations sharing their cyber knowledge and exchanging methods to systematically address cyber attacks. Our goal is to foster increased cooperation and reap the benefits of this large-scale coalition through research, training, and exercises," Noorma went on, per a CCDCOE press release.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) meanwhile said: "First, I would like to congratulate the CCDCOE. During the last 15 years, the CCDCOE has evolved from a small team of experts to the largest NATO center of excellence.

"Second, we warmly welcome the new members, all of whom will add highly appreciated know-how to the CCDCOE's work. We are particularly glad to see Ukraine here with us – this offers a unique opportunity to simultaneously contribute to Ukraine's defense in Russia's brutal war and learn from the cyber battlefield to improve the cyber security of all members," the minister continued.

Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) said that the CCDCOE has proved itself via many international projects over the years – from the cyber defense exercise Locked Shields to the CCDCOE's annual conference CyCon. "The centre can be particularly proud of the Tallinn Manual because it has served as a basis for upholding international law in cyberspace for more than 10 years," Tsahkna said.

"I wish the CCDCOE lengthy success with its new members, as we are stronger together," Tsahkna said.

The four new member states had long been involved in collaboration and cooperation with the CCDCOE, making their accession as full-fledged members the next logical step, the organization says.

For their part, representatives of the countries also welcomed the news.

Ireland's Minister of State for European Affairs and for Defense Peter Burke (Fine Gael) said CCDCOE membership and its benefits "are an important part of our developing cyber security capacity."

"Both in the world as in cyber space, much has happened over these past four years. We have witnessed Russia's brutal and unprovoked act of aggression against Ukraine. Closer to home, we have seen the effects of cyber attacks in Ireland, including the attack on our health service in 2021. Simply put, our world is being transformed in a way that only reinforces the need to work together with our friends," Burke went on.

Ambassador of Iceland, H.E. Harald Aspelund said: "Strengthening cyber resilience, security and defense is one of Iceland's key priorities and I am delighted that as members of this community of knowledge, we will be able both learn and contribute to our collective security."

Sakai Yuki, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim at the Embassy of Japan, passed on a message from Yasukazu Hamada, Japan's defense minister.

"For Japan, strengthening response capabilities in the cyber domain is one of the top priorities. As a member of the CCDCOE, Japan will continue to make necessary contributions, further strengthen cooperation in the cyber domain with NATO and like-minded countries, and maintain and defend international order based on universal values and international law."

Ambassador of Ukraine, H.E Mariana Betsa said that: "Today, a landmark event for Ukraine and for our country's relations with the North Atlantic Alliance took place - the National Flag of Ukraine is officially raised at the Headquarters of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, marking the official accession of Ukraine to the NATO CCDCOE."

"I am deeply convinced that Ukraine's participation in the CCDCOE will enhance the exchange of experience in the field of cyber security between Ukraine and NATO CCDCOE member nations and will be an important step on the way to Ukraine's accession to NATO," ambassador Betsa went on.

CCDCOE flag raising ceremony, on the occasion of both the organization's 15th anniversary, and the accession of Japan, Ukraine, Ireland and Iceland. Source: NATO CCDCOE

"In light of Russia's ongoing military aggression and hybrid warfare, waged against our country, Ukraine's accession to the CCDCOE will further strengthen our country's cyber capabilities," she added, expressing gratitude also to the CCDCOE sponsoring nations which invited Ukraine to join, and to Estonia as host nation.

The NATO CCDCOE also marked its 15th anniversary this week.

It was established on May 14, 2008, at the initiative of Germany, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Spain. As of today, the CCDCOE includes 39 nations.

Its primary objective is to provide unparalleled interdisciplinary proficiency in cyber defense research, training, and exercises across various critical domains, including technology, strategy, operations and law, and as an extensive NATO-accredited center, it plays a significant role in supporting both member nations and NATO, the organization says.

Of the four new members, naturally Japan is not a NATO member state, whereas Iceland is, and Ukraine was listed as an aspiring member in 2018. Ireland is not a NATO member state, arguably relating to the neutrality enshrined in its constitution. The same can be said of Austria, which is constitutionally declared as neutral. The county was in fact the first non-NATO member state to join the CCDCOE.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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