POLITICS

President Iohannis continues consultations on ‘Big Brother’ laws, at Cotroceni

The consultations President Klaus Iohannis is holding with the parliamentary parties and formations on the national security legislation continue on Wednesday, at the Cotroceni Palace, with the National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR) delegation.

The UNPR delegation is headed by the union chairman Valeriu Steriu, and is made up of deputy chairs Gheorge Emacu and Eugen Nicolicea, UNPR deputies’ leader Ion Raducanu and the formation’s deputy secretary general Ion Toma.

Presidential advisers Simina Tanasescu, Mihaela Ciochina, Laurentiu Stefan and Ion Oprisor also participate in the discussions.

After the UNPR delegation, the head of state will discuss with Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) representatives and with those of the minorities’ parliamentary group.

At the end of the consultations, the President will hold a press statement.

 

Consultations with the political formations on the national security laws began on Tuesday

 

President Klaus Iohannis took part on Tuesday in the first round of consultations with some of the parliamentary parties on the topic of the national security laws. Two sets of laws were on the agenda of the talks. The first set concerns the antiterrorism law, the prepaid phone cards law and the cybersecurity law. The second set concerns the national security law, the servicemen’s statute law and the law on the activity of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) and Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).

The representatives of PSD, PNL and UDMR sat at the President’s table one by one, the final conclusion being that they all expressed their support for the set of laws dubbed the ‘Big Brother law,” on one condition however: that the rights and freedoms of citizens are not violated. Moreover, PNL and UDMR insisted that Parliament should exercise real control over all services, not just over SRI and SIE.

 

PSD: “For us it is very important for citizens to have their personal data protected”

 

PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated, when leaving the consultations, that PSD is ready to take part in the drawing up of a legislative package that includes an anti-terror law, a law on prepaid cards and a cybersecurity law, so that the package may pass this parliamentary session.

“Mr President told us that the prime minister informed him the Government is working on the three bills that will be then submitted to Parliament for debates. We told the President and are telling the prime minister as well (…) that we want to be proactive, and that two of our colleagues are ready to actually take part in the ongoing drawing up of the bills so as to gain time. Maybe we will manage to pass these three important bills this parliamentary sitting,” Dragnea said Tuesday at the end of national security law consultations between President Klaus Iohannis and PSD.

“They will be put up for debate in Parliament and we said we want to be proactive, so two colleagues are willing to take part in the Government’s process of drafting these laws, in order to win time. Maybe we will manage to adopt them during this sitting. Sorin Grindeanu and Georgian Pop will be our representatives, maybe the other parties will have representatives too. When the draft laws end up in Parliament the parties should already have had a contribution,” Dragnea pointed out.

Referring to the package of “more difficult” laws, Dragnea pointed out that the setting up of working group for the drafting of these normative acts was proposed during the talks, a group made up of the representatives of parties, special institutions and Government experts. “It should start working, establishing a deadline too. We cannot talk about them now, let’s see whether they will be drafted by the time of the autumn sitting,” the PSD President pointed out.

Referring to the prepaid phone cards law, Dragnea emphasised that “for us it is very important for citizens to have their personal data protected.”

“Even if they have to disclose their personal data when they buy a [prepaid] card, let us make sure no one can access these data except on the basis of a warrant issued by a judge,” the Social Democrat leader pointed out.

In what concerns the antiterrorism law, Dragnea pointed out that it should be “adapted to the new realities we all know.”

Before the start of the consultations, Liviu Dragnea asked journalists if they have prepaid phone cards and when they answered in the negative, Dragnea jokingly advised them: “Very bad, get them while you still can.”

The PSD delegation, headed by party president Liviu Dragnea was made up of: PSD executive president Valeriu Zgonea, deputy presidents Mihai Tudose and Georgian Pop, and former communications minister Sorin Grindeanu. Moreover, presidential advisers Simina Tanasescu, Mihaela Ciochina, Laurentiu Stefan and Ion Oprisor also participated in the consultations.

 

PNL: “We also want stronger parliamentary control over [intelligence] services in Romania”

 

The PNL delegation followed. The Liberals’ statements after the meeting were similar to the Social Democrats’ statements: timetable for security laws, care for citizen, control over intelligence services.

“The most important conclusion we reached in the talks and consultations we have just finished with the President is that we need to update the legislation, that this updating and adjustment cannot be done at the initiative of just one parliamentary group, we have previously failed this way. (…) Each time this important decision to change the legislation is exclusively assumed by one political party the result is failure in promoting this legislation, that is why the PNL delegation agreed to participate together with representatives of other parliamentary parties in the committee that will draw up the new legislation. We want a balance between the observance of private life, rights and liberties of citizens in Romania and the need for security of the Romanian state and of each and every citizen of Romania,” Alina Gorghiu said.

She showed that in May the Government will come up with a legislative initiative regarding anti-terrorism, prepaid phone cards and cyber security.

Gorghiu added that PNL wants a much stronger parliamentary control over the intelligence services of Romania.

In turn, PNL co-president Vasile Blaga said that PNL will appoint two MPs to the committee on national security legislation, who will also be part of the future legislature, so that this committee may seamlessly continue its activity.

“An efficient control means professionalism also on the part of the members of these commissions. We too will nominate 2 colleagues that will be part of the future Parliament, so that this commission could continue its activity. A single commission at parliamentary level that would concern itself with control over the [intelligence] services would be welcomed,” Blaga pointed out.

The Liberal leader underscored that the national security legislation must be drawn up by the Government, by all the ministries involved, pointing out that, in his opinion, it would not be good for party representatives to participate in drawing up national security laws.

 

UDMR: There has to be a balance between the need for security and fundamental rights

 

UDMR President Kelemen Hunor stated after the consultations that his party’s point of view is that there has to be a balance between the need for security and fundamental rights.

Also, he called for reconsideration of the control over intelligence services, pointing out that some of them are currently under no control at all.

“The civil control, the parliamentary control must be real and there shouldn’t be any area, at the National Defence Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism or the National Anticorruption Directorate, where there is surveillance technology, where intelligence work is carried out, without parliamentary control. At present, only the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) are under parliamentary control. The quality of this control is debatable, whether it is a real control or not. These laws were issued many years ago, the situation is obsolete, and solutions must be found to place under civil control or under real parliamentary control all that means intelligence service and intelligence work,” Kelemen said at the end of the UDMR consultations with President Iohannis.

Kelemen showed that a real control over the said services is needed and asserted that at present the parliamentary control over SRI and SIE is rather formal.

According to him, from the UK, to Italy and Germany there are many models of a “real civil control,” and the best solution for Romania, one that does not restrain rights and liberties, has to be sought.

In context, referring to the prepaid mobile phone cards issue, he said that UDMR will support solving this matter, on condition that a solution for the protection of personal data is found.

On the other hand, the UDMR leader also spoke of the relation between the ethnic majority and the Hungarian minority, saying that it must be based on trust.

 

 

 

 

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