Foreign minister: Estonia-US 5G memorandum will not hurt China relations

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) Source: ERR

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu believes that a memorandum on the use of 5G technologies Prime Minister Jüri Ratas hopes to sign in USA this week will not impact Estonia's relationship with China.

Even though the memorandum does not mention Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, signing it would make it very difficult for Estonia to use Huawei tech in building its 5G network because the Americans believe it might jeopardize the security of communications networks.

"Countries have their economic interests which they defend. But I do not believe this could be treated as ruining our political relationship because the document makes no mention of specific companies," Reinsalu told ERR when asked whether signing of the memorandum could jeopardize Estonia-China relations.

"It is possible we will be introducing security restrictions should analysis warrant it – we are capable of explaining them to all countries and representatives who ask us. Our national security is our priority," the foreign minister added.

Reinsalu said the state is preparing a security checks procedure ministries have been asked to coordinate. "This means that companies that want to use 5G technology in the future have to undergo an inspection based on certain principles outlined in the memorandum, with the state retaining the sovereign right and readiness to introduce security restrictions if necessary," Reinsalu said.

"It is very important to understand that security interests need to be kept in mind when developing new technology and that Estonia is willing to do it. Economic and security matters overlapping is hardly anything new and such situations need to be addressed," he emphasized. "We want to pursue serious security cooperation with USA and stand for the independence of our own security in this world," the minister added.

Reinsalu added that Estonia would like to concentrate its 5G security competency to the NATO Cooperative Cyberdefense Center of Excellence in Tallinn in the future.

Prime Minister Ratas is in Washington, USA this week where he hopes to sign a memorandum that all but rules out use of Huawei technology in Estonia's 5G networks, Postimees reported on Monday. The memorandum, the main principles of which the government has approved, will see Estonia and USA mutually pledge to only use the technology of trustworthy suppliers in their communications networks. US and other Western experts believe Huawei technology is not safe to use in 5G networks because it could give China access to network traffic.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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