US President Donald Trump has written a letter to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to congratulate him for “Albania’s leadership in the region and throughout Europe in exposing China’s malign influence, human rights abuses, and predatory lending practices.”
His letter is in reference to Albania signing The Clean Network pledge, an initiative by the US State Department. It aims to address long-term threats to data privacy, security, and human rights allegedly posed by the Chinese Communist Party.
Notably, the network excludes members from utilising any 5G services from “untrusted IT vendors” including Huawei and ZTE. The 5G Clean Path is described as an “end-to-end communication path that doesn’t use any transmission, control, computing, or storage equipment” from any of these companies.
“The 5G Clean Path embodies the highest standards of security against untrusted, high-risk vendors’ ability to disrupt, manipulate or deny services to private citizens, financial institutions, or critical infrastructure. All mobile data traffic entering American diplomatic systems will be subject to new, stringent requirements.”
Trump continues by praising Rama for his outspoken support for secure telecommunications networks and said he was setting a clear example. He hopes that Albania and the US can “soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding of 5G security that paves the way for others in the Balkans to do the same.”
Serbia also signed the pledge but then opened a Huawei Innovations and Development Centre in Belgrade just days later. The government is also working on a project called Safe City that will see thousands of smart surveillance cameras distributed throughout the capital. They have facial and object recognition capabilities.
The President then thanked Rama for his support in economic normalization between Serbia and Kosovo and encouraged him to move the Albanian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Previously Vodafone Albania had been set to launch 5G services in Albania. Prime Minister Edi Rama welcomed the technology in November 20919 saying that it was “fantastic” and the start of an “industrial revolution on 5G”. then in April 2020, he said that there were no 5G antennas in Albania and they will not be allowed.
“I have never heard greater idiocy than this. There are no 5G antennas in Albania and the debate over 5G is well-known. It is known that Albania has had a very clear position on the issue”.
Yet on the sme day, the Ministrry of Infrastructure published a plan and noted that a 5G network will b constructed in the country. In fact, this is a policy of the EU and as a candidate country, Albania has committed to implementing it.
Exit repeatdly requested clarification from Vodafone but no answer has been forthcoming.
It appears that Rama’s change of heart on the implementation of 5G came after pressure from US officials.
The US Charge D’Affaires Leyla Moses-Ones commented on Albania’s impending transition to 5G saying that “China desires to seize the digital lifeline of the Western Balkans to sophone information from and choke the networks of US allies. Albania is already doing the right thing by exercising vigilance by protecting its networks. Some things in Albania are not for sale.”