Albanian PM seeks Israel’s cyber expertise after Iranian attacks

The Iranian cyberattack on Albania earlier this year threatened to paralyze public services and digital systems, hack into state records and further sow chaos.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama speaks during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 13, 2022. (photo credit:  REUTERS/JOHANNA GERON)
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama speaks during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 13, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JOHANNA GERON)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama arrived in Israel on Sunday to strengthen his country’s cyber defense after a series of attacks from Iran that led his country to cut ties with Tehran.

During his visit to Israel, Rama plans to meet with the head of the National Cyber Directorate and leading Israeli companies in the field, as well as Prime Minister Yair Lapid, President Isaac Herzog, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Iranian cyberattack on Albania earlier this year threatened to paralyze public services and digital systems, hack into state records and further sow chaos. Hackers published personal data of members of the Albanian government.

Rama said in September that his country’s decision to sever relations with Iran was “an extreme response… that is unwanted but totally forced on us, is fully proportionate to the gravity and risk of the cyberattack thatthreatened to … stir chaos and insecurity in the country."

Rama also seeks to advance a summit of Balkan prime ministers in Israel, to strengthen their ties with the Jewish state in the areas of energy, agriculture, cyber and more.

Israeli-Kazakh businessman Alexander Machkevitch, who heads one of the world’s largest mining and raw material production companies, Euroasian Resources Group, was involved in coordinating Rama’s visit to the Jewish state.

Albanian-Israeli relations

Albania, a Muslim-majority state, has had relations with Israel since 1991.

It is the only country in Europe with a larger Jewish population after World War II than before it; the country had 200 Jewish residents before the war and emerged with 2,000, many of whom were Jews given refuge from other lands. Albania was the first Muslim-majority country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of antisemitism in 2020.

Israel took in Kosovar Albanian refugees during the Kosovo War in 1999 and IDF search and rescue experts aided Albania after a deadly earthquake in 2020.