CONFERENCE: Security and Defence in the Baltic Sea Region • 14 May 2024

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DATE: 14 May 2024
TIME: started at 13.00
VENUE: Estonian Embassy in Helsinki. Itäinen Puistotie 10, Helsinki Finland.

Broadcast recording

Photo gallery



12:00 – 13:00 Registration, reception

13:00 Introductory remarks

Sven Sakkov, Estonian Ambassador to Finland
Sirle Sööt, Chair, Estonian World Council, Association of Estonians in Sweden
Margus Tsahkna, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia (Livestream)


Douglas Hickey, US Ambassador to the Republic of Finland
Introduced by Tuuli-Emily Liivat, Global Estonian Youth Network

14:00 PANEL DISCUSSION: “NATO’s Role in Baltic Sea Region Security”

Martin Roger, Director-General for NATO and Trans-AtlanticRelations, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Joakim Paasikivi, Lieutenant Colonel,Swedish Defence University
Andres Kasekamp, Professor of History, Chair of Estonian Studies,Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
Moderator Sven Sakkov, Estonian Ambassador to Finland

15:00 Coffee Break

15:30 KEYNOTE: “Russian Information Warfare as Security Threat”

Jessikka Aro, Finnish journalist and writer, author of “Putin’s World War. Russia’s Covert Operations to Destroy the West”

16:15 PANEL DISCUSSION: “Civil Preparedness and Disinformation”

Jay Janzen, Strategic Communications Director (J10) at NATO
Jakub Kalensky, Senior fellow, Atlantic Council Eurasia Centre, former Deputy Director of COI Hybrid Influence
Marko Mihkelson, Member of Estonian Parliament, Chair of Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee
Moderator Marcus Kolga, President, DisInfoWatch, Fellow McDonald Laurier Institute, Central and Eastern European Council in Canada

17:30 Closing Remarks

Ilona Kolberg, Network of Estonian Organisations in Finland
Märt Vesinurm, Network of Estonian Organisations in Finland

Conference moderator: Reet Marten Sehr, Chair Estonian World Council Foreign Relations committee, Chair, Estonian Central Council in Canada



Sven Sakkov

Sven Sakkov has been the Ambassador of Estonia to Finland since October 2020. An expert in defense and security policy, he has served as the director of the Tallinn-based think tank International Centre for Defence and Security, the director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, and as the undersecretary for policy at the Estonian Ministry of Defence. During his 29-year career, Sakkov has worked for President Lennart Meri and has been posted to the Estonian Mission to NATO, as well as the Estonian Embassy in Washington D.C. He has an M.Phil. degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge and is a graduate of Tartu University and the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.


Sirle Sööt

Sirle Sööt has served as the chairperson of the Association of Estonians in Sweden (REL) since 2013. She is one of the organizers of the #STOPNORDSTREAM2 campaign in Sweden. In 2023, she was elected president of the Estonian World Council (ÜEKN), becoming the first person born in Estonia to hold this position. Born in 1977 in Viljandi, she relocated to Sweden in 2002 for family reasons. Sirle graduated from the Estonian School of Diplomacy and holds law degrees from Estonia and Sweden, with a master’s in EU law from Stockholm University.


Margus Tsahkna

Margus Tsahkna has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia since April 2023. He has previously served as the Estonian Minister of Defence and Minister of Social Affairs. Mr. Tsahkna joined the political party Eesti 200 in 2018. Prior to that, he was a member of the political parties Pro Patria Union and Pro Patria and Res Publica Union. He graduated from the University of Tartu where he studied theology and law, including one year as an exchange student at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. He is married and is the father of a daughter and three sons.


Douglas Hickey

Douglas Hickey, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland, has been serving in this role since April 6, 2022. Previously, Ambassador Hickey served as the Managing Director of Hickey Gryphon QOF. He has more than 30 years of operational experience, holding senior-level positions in the telecom, internet, and technology industries. In 2014, President Obama appointed him as the United States Commissioner General at Expo Milano. Ambassador Hickey also served as the President and CEO of San Francisco-based BinWise, Inc., and before that was Managing Director of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. He was also CEO of Critical Path and CEO of Global Center. Mr. Hickey earned his B.A. from Siena College in Loudonville, New York, and was awarded an Honorary Ph.D. from Siena College in 2016.


Tuuli-Emily Liivat

Tuuli-Emily Liivat is passionate about maintaining Estonian identity among the next generations of the Estonian diaspora. She has founded the NGOs Estonian Youth in Finland (SEN) and the Worldwide Estonian Youth Network (ÜENV). Tuuli-Emily is also actively involved in the Finnish-Estonian think tank PAJA and Estonian activities in Finland.


Martin Roger

Martin Roger has been the Director General for NATO and Transatlantic Relations at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since August 2022. Previously, he served as the Estonian Ambassador to Poland (2018-22) and as the Director for Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (2014-2018) at the Estonian MFA. His earlier tours abroad include being the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Estonian Embassy in Paris and a Political and Legal Officer at the Estonian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. He has also been seconded to the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly (2007-2008), working on legal and counter-terrorism files, as well as to the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications as the Director for European and International Cooperation. Martin is a graduate of the University of Tartu’s Faculty of Law and holds an LL.M. in International Law from the University of Amsterdam.


Joakim Paasikivi

Joakim Paasikivi, Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4) of the Swedish Army, has been serving as a lecturer in the strategy section at the Swedish Defence University (SEDU) since autumn 2021. He is the most prominent expert on Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine and regional security policy in Swedish media since 2022. Before that, he served at the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia, from 2018 to 2021, as a lecturer in Joint Intelligence. From 2006 to 2018, he served at the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service. He attended the Swedish Defence University Higher Command Program and has been a Staff Officer for bilateral affairs at the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate at the Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters. He has served internationally as a UN Military Observer in Angola, as a liaison officer at the US Central Command in the USA, and at the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia.


Andres Kasekamp

Andres Kasekamp is the Chair of Estonian Studies and Professor of History at the Munk School of Global Affairs in the University of Toronto since 2017. Previously, he was Professor of Baltic Politics at the University of Tartu and Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute. He holds a PhD in history from University College London (1996). His research on Baltic membership in NATO has been published in the Journal of Strategic Studies, and his most recent book, A History of the Baltic States, has been translated into eight languages, including Finnish. Prof. Kasekamp has served as the President of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies and is a member of several international academic and editorial advisory boards, including the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. He has been awarded the Estonian National Science Prize, the Baltic Assembly Science Prize, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Silver Decoration, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Baltic Defence College. He has appeared as an expert in front of the foreign affairs committees of the Estonian, Finnish, and Canadian parliaments, European Parliament, and the Baltic Assembly. He comments frequently on geopolitical issues in the Canadian, Estonian, and international media, which has resulted in him being banned from Russia.


Jessikka Aro

Jessikka Aro is an award-winning former journalist, communications expert, and author specializing in Russian information warfare. Jessikka started to investigate the Russian trolls’ impact on real people in 2014 and became the target of a criminal filth campaign by them that is ongoing to this day. Despite this, Aro continues to train journalists, experts, and general audiences to recognize and counter the Kremlin’s information operations. Her first book, Putin’s Trolls, was an international bestseller, and her next book, Putin’s World War, will be published in May 2024. In 2019, Aro was supposed to have received the International Women of Courage Award, but the award was rescinded by the Trump administration, in protest over Aro’s critical tweets about it.


Jay H. Janzen

Jay H. Janzen is J10 Strategic Communications Director, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). He is a strategic communications professional with over three decades of multinational and military experience. Prior to his current role, Mr. Janzen was a Brigadier-General in the Canadian Armed Forces, where he led efforts to enhance strategic communication and military public affairs capabilities. Earlier in his career, he deployed to Bosnia and twice to Afghanistan, where he was involved in communications efforts. Previous notable positions include the director of Public Affairs for the Canadian Army, the Chief of Media Operations at SHAPE, and the Director General StratCom for the Canadian Armed Forces. He is a graduate of Royal Roads Military College, NATO Defence College, and the Canadian National Security Program. He was awarded the NATO Meritorious Service Medal and was appointed as an Officer in the Canadian Order of Military Merit.


Jakub Kalenský

Jakub Kalenský is the Deputy Director of the Centre’s Hybrid Influence COI, focusing on disinformation and countering this threat. He joined the Centre of Excellence in 2022. Jakub has specialized in disinformation and Russian hybrid activities since 2015, when he joined the newly created East StratCom Task Force in the European Union’s diplomatic service, the EEAS. On this team, Jakub was responsible for raising awareness about Russia’s disinformation campaigns. Together with his colleagues, he founded the EUvsDisinfo campaign. Between 2018 and 2021, Jakub worked in the Atlantic Council’s Ukrainian Election Task Force and in the Digital Forensic Research Lab. He testified in the European Parliament, in the US Congress, and in other legislative houses in Europe on Russian disinformation attacks and the countermeasures against it. Since 2024, Jakub is a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Natolin). Before specializing in countering disinformation, Jakub worked as a journalist in the Czech Republic.


Marko Mihkelson

Marko Mihkelson is the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament. Marko was first elected to the Parliament in 2003 and is currently serving his sixth mandate. He has served in previous parliaments as the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Chair of the EU Affairs Committee, and the Chair of the National Defense Committee. Between 2000 and 2003, he worked as the Director of the Baltic Centre for Russian Studies, from 1997 to 2000, he was the Editor-in-Chief of the largest Estonian national daily newspaper, Postimees, and from 1994 to 1997, was Postimees’s correspondent in Moscow. He has an MA degree in History from the University of Tartu. Marko is the Chair of the Council of Foreign Relations of Estonia and a member of the European Council of Foreign Relations and ICDS. He is the author of the books Russia: In Dusk and Dawn (2010) and The Disruptive Era (2018). X: @markomihkelson


Marcus Kolga

Marcus Kolga is the founder and director of DisinfoWatch and a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier and CDA institutes. He is a journalist, filmmaker, digital communications developer, and human rights activist. He led the Canadian civil society campaign for Magnitsky legislation and continues to advocate for global human rights and democracy activists. In 2017, Marcus was a recipient of the Magnitsky Human Rights Award. He is a regular commentator on international affairs and human rights, and his articles have been published by The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The National Post, The New York Daily Mail, Maclean’s, EUobserver, and other international publications. He was named to the Kremlin’s sanctions blacklist in March 2022. Marcus has been awarded the President of Estonia Order of the White Star.


Ilona Kolberg

Ilona Kolberg is currently a board member of the Network of Estonian Organisations in Finland and the Estonian World Council. She graduated from the University of Tartu as an English philologist and also studied at the Vanemuine Theatre Studio. She has worked as a lecturer of theatre history, language, and worked as a translator and theatre critic. Ilona has lived in Finland since 2000 and is currently the Chair of the Estonian Cultural Society Mihkel and artistic director of Teatteri Tuikku. She has participated in the activities of the Estonian community in Finland since 2011 and was chairperson of the ESTO 2019 Helsinki Committee.


Märt Vesinurm

Märt Vesinurm is the Vice-Chair of the Network of Estonian Organizations in Finland and an active participant in Finnish social discourse. He holds an M.Sc. in Information Networks from Aalto University and a B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Helsinki. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Management at Aalto University. Previously, he has been a visiting researcher at Stanford University. In his free time, he enjoys playing grand strategy games and the occasional scuba diving trip.


Reet Marten Sehr

Reet Marten Sehr is the Chair of the Board of the Estonian Central Council in Canada, the Canadian representative on the Global Estonian Advisory Committee, a board member of the Estonian World Congress (ÜEKN), and the Chair of the ÜEKN Foreign Relations Committee. An educator by profession, her long career in education includes being a Faculty Advisor, course developer, and facilitator at OISE, University of Toronto, Adjunct Professor at York University, Education Officer for English Language Learning at the Ontario Ministry of Education, and an Ontario school principal and teacher. She has been involved in numerous international education projects, including in Estonia since 1989. Reet has been awarded the President of Estonia’s Order of the White Star and the Estonian Central Council in Canada Gold Medal of Merit.