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June 26, 2022

Who will lead SIE? The management of the Service stirs debates between PNL and PSD

President Klaus Iohannis is awaited to make a nomination for the top position of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) after his proposal for the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), Eduard Hellvig, was accepted without any objections by the Parliament. The Head of the State avoided to make both nominations at once, and PM Victor Ponta spoke out that “the entire power” should not be gained by only one party. Liberals claim nonetheless that the position of manager of SIE will be gained by PNL as well, while Social-Democrats think that the Head of SIE should be a member of another party, because it would be “dangerous” if both services would follow the same political direction.

The leadership of SIE has been vacant since September 2014, when former Director Teodor Melescanu resigned in order to stand for election as president. Currently, Melescanu is Prime Minister Ponta’s adviser and the Foreign Intelligence Service is being headed by General Silviu Predoiu, Deputy SIE Director.

PNL Deputy Mihaita Calimente, President of the Commission of Parliament Control on the Activity of SIE declared exclusively for RomaniaTV.net that the leadership of SIE and that of SRI should both belong to PNL.

Moreover, the Deputy mentioned that there were no negotiations between PNL and PSD concerning the nomination of a candidate to the management of the Foreign Intelligence Service.

“As far as I know, no negotiations took place so far. I talked to decision makers of the party and they confirmed that no discussions occurred on this topic. I wondered, too, who would come to SIE, but there was nothing on this subject”, Mihaita Calimente, manager of the SIE Control Commission declared for RomaniaTV.net.

Asked whether the leading position of SIE should go to PSD, considering the declaration by PM Victor Ponta that a balance was needed so that the two institutions would not be managed by the same political force, Deputy Mihaita Calimente declared: “If we consider how Basescu tricked us, claiming that he was giving them to the opposition when he actually gave them to his people in the opposition, both positions should obviously go to the opposition. (…) I think that the SIE leader would be a PNL member as well. This is what I would do, if I were the President”.

Moreover, Calimente made jokes related to the “balance of political forces” mentioned by PM Ponta. “This would mean that Mr. Ponta should also appoint a couple of representatives of the opposition in the Government, let us say for Finances and Development”.

The President of the SIE Control Commission also showed that the appointment of managers for SRI and SIE “is an attribution of the President”. “The key is in the hands of the President, as he is the one to nominate both the Head of SIE and the Head of SRI”.

Mihaita Calimente also mentioned the fact that “the President wants to work with people he knows and trusts”. Asked whether Social-Democrats could block the appointment of a SIE manager from behalf of PNL in the Parliament, Calimente replied: “PSD does not have a word in this matter. They cannot block these appointments forever and it is natural that the President would like to work with people he knows and trusts”.


PSD thinks it would be dangerous that the management of SIE would go to PNL as well


Nonetheless, PSD thinks it is dangerous that the management of SIE would go to PNL as well. Social-Democrat Deputy Mircea Dobre declared that it would be normal to have negotiations between PNL and PSD for the top position of SIE and that the future leader of the Foreign Intelligence Services should be a member of a different party”.

“It is normal to have negotiations as, finally, if the head of SRI is appointed by Iohannis and is a member of PNL, it would be natural that the other leader, that of SIE, would be a member of another party, to avoid a dangerous perception”, Dobre declared for a different TV station.

Moreover, the PSD Deputy announced again the principle of balance: “It should be a balanced matter. We are talking about the principle of democracy: that the entirety of power should not be focused in one area.”


The President of Senate: The Head of SIE should be a member of the coalition


The Head of the Senate, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, coalition partner of PSD, also stated that the manager of SIE should be selected of the coalition, but admitted that this topic was not discussed.

“We could discuss a certain tendency of monopolizing power, shown by PNL, and I think we should not accept it resignedly. A serious discussion should be conducted on this topic and, this time, I would prefer the nomination of a subject who had a serious resume to recommend him. (…) In my opinion, the Head of SIE should be nominated from the coalition”, Tariceanu declared.

PNL Deputy Ovidiu Raetchi replied on this matter to the PLR leader:

“The management of SIE cannot be the subject of the political algorithm suggested by Calin Popescu-Tariceanu. It would create a dangerous precedent. Affected by the sensation that they had lost control over SRI – as they seemed to count on it if Victor Ponta had won the presidential elections – the leaders of the governing coalition hope to negotiate the management of SIE with President Iohannis.

This wish was revealed on Wednesday by the President of the Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, who had declared that the manager of SIE should be nominated by the coalition – and this was precisely on the day of the visit made by the Head of FBI and of the CSAT meeting”, Raetchi reacted.

Rumours already appeared in the press, regarding two names that appeared to be among the favourites for the position of manager of the Foreign Intelligence Service: Mihai Razvan Ungureanu and Sorin Ducaru.


Ducaru denies the rumours


However, contacted by Nine O’Clock, Sorin Ducaru , currently Assistant NATO Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges since September 2013, has firmly denied such a possibility regarding his nomination as SIE Director.

Liberal Mihaita Calimente revealed though that “we do not know whether these two names are in the President’s intentions”. The Deputy also declared that Mihai Razvan Ungureanu had been “a good manager”, yet, he doubted that “he wished the same position again”.

Regarding Sorin Ducaru, a diplomat with an impressive career, Calimente was genuinely enthusiastic: “Mr. Ducaru is absolutely qualified for this position”.

George Maior was another name mentioned in rumours about the future manager of SIE. Calin Popescu Tariceanu admitted that there were no discussions at the level of coalition about lobbying for Maior, yet he mentioned that Maior had “experience”.

PSD leader Victor Ponta declared many times that, although PSD accepted Eduard Hellvig as leader of SRI, there is a matter of principle to be discussed: “It comes from a fact that was pointed out very frequently: the entirety of power should not go to only one party. Now we see that this theory only applies to PSD. PSD is the party not supposed to gain all power; if it goes somewhere else, there is no problem”.

Ponta outlined the fact that PSD wished a public discussion in the Parliament, among political forces and public opinion regarding the maintenance of a balance of power and opposition, when appointments are made.

The SIE manager is proposed by the President of the country and validated by ballot by the reunited plenum of the Parliament.





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