Greece Opens Door for Chinese Investments in Telecommunications

(Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitropoulos Sotiris)

ATHENS – Despite worries China could use telecommunications to spy, Greece’s government said it would welcome more investments Digital minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis, told EURACTIV, a move that comes after US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt warned of Chinese influence.

It also happened a day after US President Donald Trump said he will talk about Greece’s 5G cybersecurity when Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visits Washington on Jan. 7, as the Greek leader is aggressively wooing foreign investors, especially from China.

“With regards to the presence of specific companies we are, on the whole, welcoming of Chinese investment in Greece,” Pierrakakis said, indicating a willingness to work with the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei while concerns remain about the involvement of third-country players in the EU’s 5G network.

Greece is set to hold a 5G spectrum auction before the end of 2020 as Huawei repeatedly has denied it is an agent for Chinese intelligence to use their mobile phones and 5G networks as spy tools for the government.

European Union telecoms ministers want a common approach to 5G cybersecurity, saying the approach should be “comprehensive and risk-based” but also that non-technical factors should also be taken into account when a supplier’s risk profile is drawn up.

Pierrakakis said he wants to make sure Greek citizens have access to the key enabling technologies that could help bolster the country’s digital profile, the country ranking 26th among the 28 members of the EU, after finishing dead last in 2018.

“Our primary concern is how to leapfrog this position within four years,” he told EURACTIV. “We have made a public commitment that we would ideally like to reach the average within four years.”