October 27, 2020 3:06 pm
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bulgaria n macedonia kosovo sign 5g security agreements with u s

October 27, 2020

Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Kosovo have all declared in agreements with the United States that say they’ll aim to safeguard their developing 5G wireless networks from Chinese-government influence, welcoming them into what the U.S. calls its “Clean Network” initiative. The mission of this initiative is to ensure that reliable, trustworthy companies help to develop and construct 5G networks.

“With today’s historic signing of a 5G security memorandum,” tweeted the U.S. Embassy in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, “Bulgaria has joined the Clean Network, and joins a growing coalition of countries and companies committed to protecting their 5G networks from untrusted vendors.”

This initiative seeks to get rid of “long-term threats to data privacy, security and human rights posed to the free world from authoritarian malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party,” said the US Department of State, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe have reported.

This follows another European country, Sweden, this past month announcing that it would not offer 5G network contracts to entities which use services and products from the Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE, which many nations consider as being under the influence of China’s authoritarian regime led by the Chinese Communist Party.

RELATED: Sweden is banning Huawei and ZTE from its 5G networks

If they were to give such companies access to their 5G networks, many countries believe that it will make it easy for the Chinese government to conduct espionage via those networks on citizens, companies, and government entities and officials.

Prior to Sweden, the U.S. and the United Kingdom both led the charge earlier this year in banning Huawei from their networks. The U.S. has especially been trying to persuade its allies to follow suit.

Currently, the European Union is divided about what exact measures to take as many of its member states have joined the “Clean Network” initiative. These other countries, aside from Sweden, include: Romania, Greece, the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Denmark, and Latvia.

The leader of Bulgaria was especially thrilled when announcing the news of this agreement.

“Bulgaria and the U.S. are allies and strategic partners!” tweeted Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. “We discussed our economic cooperation with @KeithJKrach and later Bulgaria and the U.S. signed key documents in the field of the security of 5G networks and the nuclear energy for civilian purposes.”

Stevo Pendarovski, the President of North Macedonia, was more even-keeled but positive nonetheless.

“Given the advantages of 5G generation wireless communication,” he tweeted, “this memorandum of cooperation is vital for the future prosperity of our country from an economic point of view, as well as for national security.”

The President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, has yet to tweet about the agreement.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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