PNL MEP Eduard Hellvig was proposed on Thursday by President Klaus Iohannis as Head of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). On Monday, he will attend a hearing at the Parliament Control Committee and then, he will undergo the ballot of the two Chambers.
President Klaus Iohannis explained that Eduard Hellvig was a “reasonably calm” person to be appointed as Head of SRI. He went on by explaining what would happen next to present interim leader Florian Coldea.
In an interview broadcasted on Thursday evening at Digi 24, after having announced earlier the proposal that Hellvig should overtake the leadership of SRI, Klaus Iohannis declared that Hellvig was “a reasonably calm person worth appointing” and that “during the stage we are now going through, calm is an important asset”.
“We solve nothing by being emotional. We sought for a solution and we found this one”, Klaus Iohannis also added.
He was asked what would happen next to present interim leader Florian Coldea, and replied by pointing out that he was Deputy Chief of SRI and that “he would keep the position of Deputy Chief of SRI”.
SRI needs a leader that would develop it towards the European area
Regarding his proposal of leader for SRI, the President declared that “SRI needed a leader that would develop the Service towards the European area”.
“The Service needs somebody who has enough authority and an adequately positive image to help SRI in this approach. Mr. Hellvig has these qualities.
For nominating a leader of SRI, I did not seek a certain political profile, I am not looking for a political profile, I am looking for a civilian profile”, the Head of the State pointed out. Asked whether there were any other proposals for the head of SRI, Iohannis mentioned:
“It is a secondary topic. I made my decision on Mr. Hellvig, I talked to him and I made this proposal”.
“We needed to clear things up with SRI right now. After, we will approach SIE”, the Head of the State explained his decision to nominate only George Maior’s successor. Moreover, discussing George Maior’s departure from SRI, Iohannis declared that he had written his resignation and forwarded it, and the President had accepted it.
Cezar Preda: If Florian Coldea is guilty, he will pay. If he is not, the one who accused him will pay
PNL Deputy Cezar Preda, member of the SRI Control Committee, thinks that Eduard Hellvig fulfills all required conditions to be a good manager of the service and says that, if accusations brought to General Florian Coldea are proved false, the one who made them must pay.
Asked whether he thought that the SRI manager must be apolitical or, on the contrary, the Romanian President’s trusted person, Cezar Preda declared that “a profile should not be painted in black and white”.
“I think that a civilian leader of the Romanian Intelligence Service should be a person that, on one hand, understands the military constituents of these services and has a required level of knowledge in state security sciences and, on the other hand, has high-level political connections, so that he could be a genuine civilian interface to what the military security of a country means. I think that Hellvig has everything he needs, and the fact that he is a man the president trusts confers the President not only responsibility, but also the required dimension to ask the Parliament and political forces for a vote of confidence”, Cezar Preda declared for Ziare.com.
A service leader should have an intelligence above average
Moreover, the PNL Deputy thinks that the leader of an intelligence service should, obviously, be endowed with an intelligence above average.
“I think it is a good choice. Personally, I do not know Mr. Hellvig very well. I only worked with him institutionally. And, as a member of the SRI control committee, we will continue working institutionally. I think that the nomination is a positive one and will be voted for in the Parliament.
Civilian heads of intelligence services should, first of all, be people endowed with a high level of intelligence. Claiming that you are an expert in services is like pretending that you are an expert in Romania’s Presidency. You go there and learn. (…) I think that things will work out fine, just like they did for eight years, with Mr. George Maior, before we entered this cavalcade of legally prosecuted and of SRI responsibilities”, Cezar Preda declared.
Asked whether the activity of SRI was affected in any way by accusations brought lately against interim chairman Florian Coldea, which would explain the frequent hints to “calm” made on Thursday by President Klaus Iohannis, Cezar Preda underlined the fact that the Head of the State did a great thing by announcing a decision.
“A team should be complete, especially as the Deputy Chief is subject to such accusations while bearing the responsibility of a top command position. This temporariness must be ended and this is why I think that Romania’s President did a very good thing. Now, it will be a complete team and General Coldea will not be the highest ranked in the service.
Regarding the accusations made by Ms. Udrea (and others), I think that there is a major confusion being made and the actions we will witness will be different from what the civil and political groups mean. We, politicians, are easily accused and these accusations might leave traces and wounds, but we easily overcome them. This was how that moment worked out, we suffered a little bit, but it was a political battle and it ended”.
“In the case of military, things are different. When you made an accusation regarding an officer, you either prove what you said, or he will go at any length to prove you wrong and demand his justice. A person in the military cannot remain in an area of confusions, like civilians; his reputation cannot be stained. They are either guilty or not. Just like in war: if you attacked an army officer, you kill him or he kills you. Thus, if Florian Coldea is guilty, he will pay; and if he is innocent, the ones who launched these accusations will pay”, Cezar Preda declared.
Under these circumstances, asked whether he thought that General Coldea could keep his position Deputy Chief of SRI after DNA started the inquiry as a result of Elena Udrea’s denunciation, Cezar Preda pointed out very firmly:
“Is it possible that a political statement could break the career of a man? Is anyone in this country entitled to damage the military career of 40-year-old man, a four-star General? If he is proven innocent, the ones who accused him will pay. If he is guilty, he will pay”, the Liberal Deputy outlined once again.
Andreea Pora: Hellvig’s nomination to SRI in context of Udrea-started scandal is clever
‘From a political point of view, the move Iohannis made when nominating Eduard Hellvig as SRI head in the context of the scandal set in motion by Udrea is a clever one. The appointment of a new SRI chief was a touchstone for the president as long as the majority of MPs belonged to PSD and I believe that it weighed on choosing Hellvig. Withdrawn, discreet, always in the shadow of prominent leaders, with a sharp sense of orientation in the confusing political space, the man is not going to pose issues during the voting in Parliament. As a matter of fact, almost all parties have announced their support. The timing announced by Ponta – <we’ll first discuss it in the parliamentary groups> is a mere image game as he didn’t want to appear as he had sprung to attention in front of Iohannis. Everything had been previously negotiated anyway. On Hellvig’s competence in the field I don’t know much, however his recent positions on Euro-Atlantic orientation are correct, although there is a nuance we need to note: the Bucharest-Washington axis is no longer passing through London, but through Berlin. Is that a surprise to anyone? The position on Russia is also decisive and radical (‘Russian neo-imperialism’) and his post-nomination reaction regarding SRI’s priorities was clear: ‘strengthen the rule of law’, ‘combat corruption and develop national security defence capabilities’. The message is right – maybe too right – for the current troubled moments when people try to undermine the credibility of the service, when a question has been insistently asked – if perhaps the intention as not to strangle the flow of information from SRI to DNA, with consequences on anti-corruption cases. Perhaps that’s why the end of Hellvig’s posted message deserves special attention: ‘I am deeply convinced that a functional democracy has the necessary mechanisms so that the state and its citizens are always on the same side of the barricade. On one condition – all institutions must operate in keeping with the rules of democracy and open society’. Does he mean that they have not operated in the way so far? What institutions does he mean – SRI itself or other ones? In the same agitated context one also needs to note President Iohannis’ firm announcement: Coldea will not be replaced. Bad luck for Udrea,” considers journalist Andreea Pora.