The New York Times has alleged in a report that a Greek minister and other officials received gifts from China’s Huawei in 2020 to 2021 to further its interests in Greece.
The report titled “Gifts, Gadgets and Greece: Inside a Huawei Lobbying Campaign,” says that “leaked internal messages detail efforts by the Chinese tech giant to court Greek officials and fight an American-led effort against its technology.”
“In November 2020, executives at Huawei, the Chinese telecom-equipment maker, exchanged messages about holding a meeting with a ‘friend’ and an ‘adviser’ in Greece,” The New York Times has reported.
It adds that “the contacts, identified as Greek government advisers, were set to provide Huawei with something valuable: a document outlining government contracts and ‘first priority projects’ that the company might want to work on in the country.”
According to the newspaper, “Huawei managers discussed giving the advisers a Huawei Mate XS smartphone, the company’s GT 2 smartwatch and wine, according to internal text messages and other documents.”
Huawei employees discussed providing gadgets to a senior Greek government minister and his son, giving devices to police and immigration officials and organizing transportation for Greek regulators during an industry conference in the United Arab Emirates in 2021.
The New York Times further notes that Greece “has reliably defended Beijing’s interests in the European Union, particularly after the 2008 global financial crisis, when China provided financial aid for projects such as the port of Piraeus, which a Chinese state company now owns. More recently, though, Greece has reoriented itself more toward the West.”
“The country has also taken a contradictory stance on Huawei,” the newspaper reports, adding that “it has not banned the firm’s products, but the government and businesses in the country have tried distancing themselves from the Chinese company.”
Greek minister’s alleged gifts from Huawei
The paper alleges that Adonis Georgiadis, the Minister of Development and Investment at the time, “had fostered a relationship with Huawei for years.”
Huawei employees discussed how Georgiadis…received devices from the company, The New York Times reported, noting that he also posted pictures of his visits to Huawei’s offices and events on social media.
It adds that “the nonbinding 2020 agreement signed by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greek officials, which was aimed at strengthening tech and scientific collaboration, did not ultimately mention cybersecurity or Chinese companies.”
Georgiades denied the allegations in an e-mail to the paper. He said he was not involved in the specifics of the tech-science agreement and had no communication with Huawei before it was signed.
He added that he never accepted gifts from Huawei but bought ‘two or three’ devices for family members with retail receipts.
“I never had, or still have, no special relationship with that company,” he maintained. “No agreement, investment, contract, concession or project was rendered to Huawei during my term of office.”
Pavlos Marinakis, the Greek government spokesman, told The New York Times that “Huawei’s technology had a limited presence in the country’s new telecom networks.”
“There has never been, whatsoever, any direct or indirect influence by said company in government policy decisions, agreements and/or contracts,” he concluded.