Mr Petros Petrikkos, PhD Candidate in International Relations and European Studies at the Department of Politics and Governance, University of Nicosia, Research Associate at the Diplomatic Academy – University of Nicosia, and Doctoral Fellow on the CSDP at the European Security and Defence College received an ITC Conference Grant for his participation in a high-level conference and workshop, organised by the European Security and Defence College’s Doctoral School on the Common Security and Defence Policy on 14-16 March 2022. The conference, under the heading of ‘Research Methodology Course on CSDP – EU as a Security and Defence Actor’ primarily examined the growing role of the EU in foreign, security, and defence policy formulation. It was hosted by the University of Piraeus in Greece.
During the conference, Petrikkos presented his progress on his PhD thesis, which looks at hybrid threats in small states and societies, focusing on Cyprus and Estonia as case studies. His contribution complemented the proceedings of the ‘Hybrid Threats and Intelligence’ workshop, sharing his conceptual and methodological approaches in his research topic. While the concept of ‘hybridity’ remains an essentially contested concept, Petrikkos’ work, which leans on critical approaches to Security Studies, utilises interpretivist methodology and concepts that focus on understanding how foreign, security, and defence policies are reimagined and reconstructed on a day-to-day basis.
Cyprus and Estonia, while different in terms of background and policy priorities, both have experienced overarching existential threats. Both cases have sought to control the narrative through which they reinvent themselves within the EU, while at the same time, pointing towards perceived existential threats, such as Turkey and Russia respectively. Policy formulation, as a mechanism of response to hybrid threats originating from either overarching threat, seeks to protect Cypriot and Estonian political imagery abroad, thereby attracting support from other EU member-states, appearing as reliable stakeholders and partners, and building resilience within society.
In contrast to this, the majority of literature on small states and hybrid threats respectively has mostly focused on traditional approaches to security and survival. As two small states in the EU, Petrikkos argued in his presentation that understanding how small states and societies interact with hybrid threats can further enhance our understanding of specific policy gaps in EU foreign, security, and defence policies and strategies.