ICDS director: 5G memorandum a matter of security for Estonia

ICDS Director Sven Sakkov.
ICDS Director Sven Sakkov. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonia's decision to sign the 5G memorandum with the U.S. is a national security-related matter and is not part of a trade war, International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) Director Sven Sakkov said on ETV news broadcast Aktuaalne kaamera on Monday night.

"It seems to me as though it is to the advantage of some companies who are heavily reliant on Huawei technology to illustrate the issue in the context of the trade war," Sakkov said. "For example, Elisa Eesti CEO Sami Seppänen has said that there is no proof anywhere in the world of Huawei's security risks, and that this issue is rooted in the U.S.-Chinese trade war."

The ICDS director believes this is wrong.

"For Estonia, this is a matter of security ⁠— of national security ⁠— because the 5G network is not just the next communications network; it is where our entire lives will be located in the future," he said. "It is where cars will drive, where surgeons will perform surgeries, where factories will operate. Our entire lives will be on there. This is not just a matter of a network."

Sakkov also said that whose 5G network to use will be a matter of trust.

"I believe that is a matter of trust," he explained. "Is there sufficient trust in this producer which has the corresponding technology? Very big countries such as Germany or the U.K. are capable of checking it for themselves. Estonia isn't capable of constantly checking all of that code and technology, because everything may be perfect, but then when a new update comes along, everything is different and you have to do it all again."

Then there is the matter of whether one can trust the control mechanisms in place in the society from which the company originates, he continued.

"Is this a free society?" the center director asked. "Does it have press freedom, an independent judiciary, political opposition, and a civil society keeping an eye on potential abuse?"

Nonetheless, Sakkov does not believe that Estonian-Chinese relations will suffer as a result of Estonia's signing of the memorandum.

"As this is in my opinion a matter of security, then this is specifically a matter of state sovereignty," he said. "The People's Republic of China is the country that talks the most on the world stage about the importance of states' sovereignty. I believe that Estonian diplomats will be able to explain this to China in light of that."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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