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March 6, 2021

President Iohannis nominates Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu for director of SIE

President Klaus Iohannis has nominated Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu to become the new head of Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service – SIE, reads a release of the Presidential Administration.

The Presidential Administration points out that, according to the Constitution provisions, the head of state informed the chairs of the two Chambers of Parliament of this nomination and the Legislature is going to adopt a decision in this respect.

‘The President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, has nominated for the office as Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mr. Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu. According to the Constitution, President Klaus Iohannis has informed, by official letter, the speakers of the two Chambers of Parliament on the nomination and the Parliament will adopt a decision in the matter’, states a Presidential Administration release.

The office as SIE head has been vacant since September last year, when Teodor Melescanu resigned.


Ungureanu: ‘It is an honour to me’


‘This nomination is an honour to me and I hope it is an informed nomination. I would like the Parliament to entrust me with its confidence by vote. From now on, we will see. (…) Before anything else, Mr. President, we believe we need a strong Service of Foreign Intelligence, one that is genuinely committed to what national security means today in such a troubled regional context’, Ungureanu said at the Senate on Wednesday, according to Agerpres.

He stressed that, regarding his nomination, there would be a debate both on the joint Standing Bureaus of the Parliament and the specialised Committee and that a decision would be made by the vote of the joint plenary meeting of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate.

‘The vote is sacred and, after the vote of the joint plenary sitting, we will see the result’, he said.

Asked what he thought about the fact that two PNL members were in charge of Romanian intelligence services, Ungureanu answered: ‘That’s not unusual. We already have this tradition of appointing opposition political representatives to lead the main intelligence and counterintelligence agencies. Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu noted that ‘SIE had been very well run without a civil director’.


PSD doesn’t agree to nomination


The Social Democratic Party (PSD) said on Wednesday, after the nomination, that its MPs would not vote for Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu as head of SIE. The leader of PSD senators, Ilie Sarbu, said the proposal made by President Klaus Iohannis was procedurally illegal and that PM Ponta ‘doesn’t know anything and has not been consulted’.

‘This proposal, from a legal point of view, can only come to Parliament via CSAT’, Ilie Sarbu said, according to Mediafax. He also said that, apart from the fact that the proposal of the president was not legal from a procedural point of view, ‘a tradition is being broken’.

‘A tradition has been also broken – that one of the two main intelligence services should be led by the opposition and one by the power. We haven’t fought too much for the presidency of SIE’, the leader of the Social-Democrats in the Senate also said.


PNL loves the president’s choice


The Liberals are happy with the fact that President Klaus Iohannis ahs nominated PNL Senator Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu as the new SIE chief.

‘He is a person with a lot of experience, he has led SIE before. I believe that he will receive the votes not just from our group, from PNL, I think he will be approved by the Parliament’, Vasile Blaga said at the Parliament Palace on Wednesday.

The PNL co-president refused to comment on PSD’s position, who say will not support the candidate.

‘It’s their position and I am not going to comment on it. But they should not forget that the intelligence heads have always been from the opposition. That has been very common’, he said.

‘I am convinced that votes will also come from PSD, there are lucid people in there, you could also see that yesterday, with the National Strategy’, Blaga also said.

PNL Deputy Mihaita Calimente, Chair of the joint SIE Oversight Committee, said he was happy with the nomination of Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu as head of SIE and expressed his trust that he would receive the vote of the Parliament.

‘Not only I agree, but I also hail this appointment. As chairman and member of the Committee, I worked with him when he was the director of SIE. It was a very good cooperation, Mr. Ungureanu proved genuine skills for leading the services, the results Romania obtained were notable’, Mihaita Calimente said on B1 TV.

‘I believe the proposal will be adopted by Parliament’, he stressed.

Both UDMR and UNPR said they would vote for appointing Ungureanu as Director of SIE, according to Realitatea TV.


Had run SIE before, from 2007 to 2012


Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu was born on September 22, 1968 in Iasi. A 1992 graduate of the Department of History and Philosophy of the Al. I. Cuza University of Iasi, he holds a master’s degree awarded in 1993 by the Centre for Jewish and Hebrew Studies, St. Cross College, University of Oxford, the UK. On March 27, 2004 he was awarded a doctor’s degree in modern history by the History Department of the Al. I. Cuza University of Iasi, for a thesis on conversion and integration in Romania’s society in early modern times.

On July 6, 2012, he initiated the NGO Centre-Right Civic Initiative. On September 7, 2012, he was elected chairman of the Civic Force Party (PFC) at an extraordinary meeting of the party’s National Convention.

Ungureanu has held several offices. In 1998-2001, he was a state secretary with the Romanian Foreign Ministry; in 2001-2003 he was the regional envoy of the South-East Europe Stability Pact; in 2003-2004 he was deputy coordinator of the South East European Cooperation Initiative based in Vienna; Romania’s special representative to the South East European Cooperation Initiative (Vienna, 2007).

Ungureanu was Romania’s foreign minister December 29, 2004 – March 22, 2007.

He held the office of Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service head in 2007-2012, under the office tenure of former President Traian Basescu. He resigned from office on February 8, 2012.

Ungureanu was prime minister February-May 2012, in April the same year he shortly held the office of interim environment and forestry minister.

In the parliamentary election of December 9, 2012, he became senator on the lists of Right Romania Alliance (ARD), in College 1, of Arad Municipality.

After President Klaus Iohannis was elected, Ungureanu became his personal adviser. In the National Liberal Party (PNL) he holds the first vice-president chair.


Daniel Savu, PSD: ‘I find him to be extremely toxic for Romania’


PSD Senator Daniel Savu, former counter-intelligence officer, said on Wednesday that the proposal President Klaus Iohannis had made for the head of SIE was his ‘revenge’ for Victor Ponta’s refusal to step down.

‘After appointing Mr. Helvig, PNL’s Secretary General., as the head of SRI, he is now proposing Mr. Ungureanu, a highly controversial character. Only from his previous SIE term we can remember his financial relationship with OMV. The problems during his time as prime-minister, the short period that pulled him back, I don’t think recommend him. But I can see that it’s becoming the trend in Romania for the Soros graduates to be placed as leaders of secret services. That’s exactly why I have to wonder – what is Romanian counter-espionage doing? Both intelligence chiefs – Mr. Helvig and Mr. Ungureanu – have run projects for the Soros Foundation and are Soros graduates. I am surprised we cannot find among the Romanians who have not graduated from the Soros Foundation people capable of running the secret services. I would like my former colleagues in counter-intelligence to be active. I am totally dissatisfied with the imbalance Mr. Iohannis is creating in Romania by appointing two intelligence heads from PNL. That’s not the practice. Political nominations are not really common as far as SIE is concerned. This is Mr. Iohannis’ revenge for the fact that Mr. Ponta did not resign’, said Senator Daniel Savu.

‘I will surely vote against Mr. Ungureanu, whom I find to be extremely toxic for Romania. Both as prime-minister and as head of SIE’, the politician said.

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