In a sensitive international context challenged by the increase of the danger represented by terrorist threat, Romania is caught with its main intelligence services led by interims.
The Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) has no manager since September 2014, when Teodor Melescanu resigned to run for President. At the time being, the institution is managed by its deputy Director , General Silviu Predoiu.
The Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) was left without a leader two days ago, as George Maior (photo) also resigned. His resignation is all the more surprising as, in a vast television interview granted no more than four days before, Maior had suggested that he would keep his position at the top of the Service, enjoying full support from behalf of President Iohannis. At the time being, the interim leader of SRI is General Florian Coldea.
Both interim managers of SIE and SRI, General Predoiu and General Coldea are two reputed and valuable specialists in the field of intelligence, appreciated and acknowledged both internally and by foreign partners and there is no doubt that they can lead the services with high professionalism.
Yet, appointing new managers as fast as possible is a striking necessity and it may be a highly important signal to foreign partners and allies who are more than likely to look forwards to the new appointments with great interest.
Faced with this situation, President Iohannis must reach these two crucial decisions as fast as possible, as they are some of the most important actions of his term as a President: respectively appointing the leaders of the two intelligence structures. His responsibility is established by the Constitution, which points out that the SIE and SRI managers are proposed by the Head of the State and appointed by the Parliament, in a common meeting of the two Chambers. Yet this responsibility is enormous, as both the intelligence specialists of the two institutions and partner services abroad have huge expectations, based on the outstanding reputation and prestige both SRI and SIE are enjoying internationally due to the success of their actions and of the excellent results achieved by their reform. Both SRI and SIE are, at the time being, two of the best qualified intelligence structures in the world, and are frequently granted international acknowledgement from behalf of similar organizations and specialized structures.
The first question that pops out at the time being is whether Iohannis will follow the rule imposed by Traian Basescu, namely to choose managers of the Services from the Opposition. If Iohannis decides to go on with this rule (at least for one of the services, if not for both), Iohannis should turn to PNL to find the new leaders, which is highly desired by his former party colleagues as well. Nonetheless, the persons chosen by him must be accepted by the PSD-PC-UNPR-PLR coalition as well, as they own the majority in the Parliament.
It is to be seen what solutions would President Iohannis select and how the President would prove his abilities as a negotiator on the subject of appointing SIE and SRI managers. Until the effective appointments, it is no doubt that speculations regarding the future leaders of SRI and SIE would continue. So far, the rumour market has brought up, as possible followers of Maior to the head of SRI, although chances are yet unknown, the names of presidential advisers Mihai Razvan Ungureanu and George Scutaru, of Vice-Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea and of Minister Ioan Rus.
Sources quoted yesterday by Realitatea TV claimed that George Maior’s position as leader of SRI might be granted to an independent, according to President Klaus Iohannis’ wish. Some of the names brought up for this position are those of Eduard Hellvig and Teodor Atanasiu, presently members of PNL.
Speculations concern not only the topic of the next leader of PSD but George Maior’s future as well. Some rumours say that he will be appointed Ambassador in an important capital in the Euro-Atlantic space, other claim that he will be the next Prime Minister while another set of suppositions say that he will be the new President of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD) replacing Victor Ponta.
Emil Hurezeanu: We wonder what President Iohannis will do
“Former President Traian Basescu attempted -and was unable to fully succeed -to make us believe that he had appointed representatives of the Opposition at the top of the Services. Of course Mr. Maior was a member of PSD, but he was the President’s trusted man. Even Mr. President was close enough to PSD or to a left-wing party named PD before becoming President and turning suddenly into a right-wing person, in one night, massively unbalancing the ship of democracy,” analyst Emil Hurezeanu declared on Tuesday evening for Digi24. He analyzed the possible reasons and consequences of George Maior’s resignation from the top of SRI and also sketched the qualities Maior’s successor needed to have.
“The most important are the President’s trust in the respective person and his proved competence”, Emil Hurezeanu outlined. “He is not supposed to be competent in deciphering the mysteries of intelligence services, he is not supposed to be a secret agent, no! He has to be somebody experienced in politics, experienced as a public person, with an intact capital of professionalism and morality, which will have nothing else to do other than encounter the specific professionalism of these services”, Emil Hurezeanu explained at Digi24.
“This Service leader is actually sort of an intermediary between the respective apparatus, which, according to some people, will never be entirely known by a manager and will never by controlled by him, as those people are working in various shadows, not necessarily in the open, and the President. Therefore, it is important for the service as well that the new leader would be a person the President trust, an influential person in the entourage of the President and, at the same time, an adequate person, compatible with the heads of services from abroad,” Emil Hurezeanu pointed out.
The analyst mentioned that former SIE Director Mihai Razvan Ungureanu and George Maior were persons who spoke, read and wrote several foreign languages, who graduated prestigious schools, who were proficient in English and who were far more interesting and of higher achievements than many of the Romanian politicians.
“Let us not jump to conclusions, because the resignation of the manager of an intelligence service is not a minor issue”, Emil Hurezeanu advises.
George Maior’s resignation is no surprise, according to journalist Emil Hurezeanu. On the contrary, this gesture was to be expected, considering the change at Cotroceni.
„After all, all new presidents, in all democratic countries, create, perhaps not immediately but after a period of transition, a team that includes the head of National Security Council – and in the US, it is ranked higher than the heads of CIA and FBI. Americans change the heads of CIA and if FBI as well. Heads of CIA and FBI who have worked with Republicans as well are going to return. The competences of Republicans, in this case, were more obvious than those of Democrats, especially in highly difficult moments, in crucial moments, war, conflicts, new dangers – so, it is no problem at all, it is the natural way of things, it is a natural process”, the analyst explained.
„We wonder what President Iohannis will do. He has complete freedom to seek the Government’s opinion as well”, Emil Hurezeanu said, admitting that the President needed majority so that his new proposal for the management of SRI would be passed in the Parliament.
Ion Cristoiu: I am sure it will be difficult to find a successor for Maior
In a leading article published in Evenimentul Zilei, entitled „Why Maior resigned? A question nobody wants to answer, though they should”, journalist Ion Cristoiu sums up the explanations given to George Maior’s resignation:
1. George Maior prepared his resignation by his highly critical interventions targeting the Constitutional Court due to the three draft laws on National security, overruled by the Court one after the other.
2. George Maior was determined to resign by Klaus Iohannis, terrified by the fact that he has to arbitrate the conflict of SRI and the Constitutional Court.
3. George Maior resigned because major pressures are put on SRI, the institution that fuels DNA with vital information in the struggle against Corruption, from behalf of all politicians and moguls, determining him to give up on the ascension to top level corruption.
4. George Maior resigned due to an agreement with Klaus Iohannis, so that he could run for Prime-Minister of a National Union Government, the only government that would suit the President’s interests.
Cristoiu concludes in his article: „We know one thing for sure: it will be terribly hard to find a successor for George Maior, at a time when the political class, in its entirety, seems highly anxious because of the amplitude reached by the struggle against Corruption”.