Estonia has become known in the world as being a forefront country in a potential Western-Russian conflict. Many communication experts, who volunteer in Propastop, decided to look deeper into this subject and discuss, whether anything could be done to this reputation. Whether and how to change this image, or how could this be put to better use?
Below is presented a list of ideas and proposals.
• Associating war threat with Estonia is just one part of a greater geopolitical situation. Wars in Georgia and Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, has put Russia’s neighbouring countries in a position of fear, that same could anytime happen to them. For this reason, Russia’s eastern neighbours have sought out protection from Europe and and NATO. Thus, the subject does not concern only Estonia.
• Russian propaganda aims to show Estonia and Eastern-European countries as aggressors. According to Kremlin narrative, the allied forces are brought here to attack Russia. This story is targeted towards Russian inner audience, but also Russian-speakers at the countries themselves, to create antagonism between people and local government.
• To counter Kremlin propaganda, Estonia has to reaffirm that the allied forces and defence budget increase is strictly defence purposed.
• How to clarify it? It should be explained on expert level in the media, that NATO forces in receiving countries are not capable attacking Russia. This message should be conveyed in simpler terms so that the majority would understand it.
• For people who are not following Estonian media (russian-speaking people in Estonia), they should be convinced through advertising. One option would be to portray soldiers from the Allied Forces on a poster with a message “Honestly, we are not going to attack Russia!”. The poster would have a direct link to a web page, where it would be explained in the simplest way, that the allied forces are here only for defence reasons.
• There should also be a web page for foreign journalists, who could attain information about Estonian security circumstance, of the countries defence model and the role of the Allies.
• Forefront tag is not necessarily all bad. This narrative could be used in various ways, for example developing different projects concerning cyber security. It gives also ground for journalists to counter the issue and explain, how although the threat is there, Estonia is doing everything it can to deter this menace.
• There rises the question again, how there is a lack of a central institution on the government level, that could deal with this types of problems. There is a need for an organisation, which deals systematically with Estonia’s reputation.
Photo: Scottish soldiers prepare for UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus 2104. Defence Images / Flickr / CC
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