*6,000 denials of entry to Romania issued in 2016
Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Director Eduard Hellvig stated on Wednesday that the SRI’s 2016 strategy was to keep away from the country’s borders any threat to national security.
“Our report is a precise X-ray of a tough year, rich in challenges, but one that Romania ended well. In 2016, SRI’s strategy was to keep far from the country’s borders any threat to national security. Measures meant to deter any illicit actions were carried out in domains such as: cybersecurity, counter-espionage, extremism and organised crime. For instance, approximately 6,000 measures to deny or ban entry to Romania were adopted,” Eduard Hellvig said.
“I invite you to take a serious look around Romania and contrast that to our state of security. You’ll find relevant counter-examples – armed conflicts, secessionist movements, terrorism, organised crime, illegal migration or obvious backsliding from the rules of the democratic game. Their absence [here] is also due to the people on whose behalf I am talking,” Hellvig stated at the SRI’s activity review meeting.
He stated that he wants the SRI to continue finding “its natural place in a democratic society,” as provider of intelligence for the state’s decision-makers, “early warning system for risks, promotor of national security interests.”
“I support democracy because Romania cannot make progress except through these values. It’s important, for society as a whole, for SRI’s activities to fall strictly within the limits of the Constitution and of the laws that set clear borders within which our institution is called upon to operate,” Hellvig emphasised.
“It’s important for all of SRI’s activities to fall strictly within constitutional and legal limits”
SRI Director Eduard Hellvig stated on Wednesday, at the end of SRI’s activity review meeting, that he supports democracy, this being the reason why it is important, for society as a whole, for SRI’s activities to fall “strictly” within the constitutional and legal limits that set borders within which the institution can operate.
He added that “to support the state’s decision making, the SRI showed consistency in informing its legal beneficiaries and visibly improved its communication with them, a fact backed by a significant rise in the positive feedback from decision-makers.”
“In 2016, hundreds of international cooperation activities were carried out and partnership operations and projects were jointly managed. This places the Romanian Intelligence Service in an important position at international level,” he added.
Hellvig gave assurances that the SRI’s modernisation and consolidation will not stop.
“We’ve entered a new stage. During my term, I plan for us to optimise the resources of this service, to manage them efficiently and responsibly, and once this process starts, I guarantee it’s irreversible. Our modernisation and consolidation will not stop. We have top-level officers and skilled managers who will carry this undertaken option to its completion,” the SRI Director emphasised.
He claimed that, in 2017, the SRI wants “to find once again its natural place in a democratic society, that of provider of intelligence for the state’s decision-makers, of early warning system for risks, of promotor of national security interests.”
Eduard Hellvig added that all SRI activities must fall within the limits of the Constitution and of laws.
“I support democracy because Romania cannot make progress except through these values. It’s important, for society as a whole, for SRI’s activities to fall strictly within the limits of the Constitution and of the laws that set clear borders within which our institution is called upon to operate,” the SRI Director pointed out.
He reiterated that the Service wants to modernise “even more the partnership it has with state institutions.”
“We will work for a more transparent oversight model and for a more open relationship with Parliament and with civil society. We will be an honest partner for all institutions, for the perfecting of the legislation and in order to give an example of efficiency and professionalism. There is the need to permanently align SRI’s role and missions with the rules of the democratic game. The first steps have already been made, things will continue,” he added.
Hellvig also stated that the SRI has many things to do, considering that “the future includes many threats.”
“Unfortunately, in 2017, just as in the following years, the intelligence services will be engaged in direct confrontations whose severity is not yet fully felt. The world we are living in is facing important problems, and our analysis is that the degree of global insecurity is yet to reach its apex. We must pay attention, together, in the country and with external partners, at the dangers stemming from terrorism, espionage, illegal trafficking, cyber-attacks or forms of hybrid aggression and informational aggression. I’m saying “together” because this word will be a very important one in developing Romania’s security capabilities,” the SRI Director stated.
He declared that the SRI’s slogan for this year is “partnership in the service of the citizens.”
“Our officers will go out in society more, to explain to people and institutions how they must generate measures for the protection of data and assets, how to protect their connected infrastructures, how to protect themselves from attempts of illicit influencing. Our main ally is the citizen. And an educated citizen is a strong ally!”, Eduard Hellvig concluded.
“It’s time for an honest partnership between SRI and state institutions; only this way will Romania be kept out of harm’s way”
At the same time, Hellvig added that it is time for an “honest” partnership between the SRI and all state institutions, because Romania can be kept safe from domestic and foreign threats only by working as a team.
“It’s time for an honest partnership between the SRI and all state institutions, because I believe only as a team can we keep Romania safe from threats coming from within the country, but also from abroad. That’s precisely why, today, I want to thank firstly all Romanian citizens who contribute – in various forms and instances, each one of them, and first of all by observing the law – to protecting Romania’s national security,” the SRI Director pointed out.
He thanked Romania’s domestic and foreign partners for the support they gave the SRI in 2016.
“I want to assure them of a continued, constructive, open and responsible partnership. And I assure you, the representatives of the media, of the same honesty and institutional transparency, but don’t forget that the SRI will remain a secret service,” Eduard Hellvig concluded.
“It’s time for large debate on national security law package”
The SRI Director also stated on Wednesday, at the institution’s activity review meeting, that it’s time for a large debate on a package of national security laws that must be “minimally intrusive” and offer “constitutional guarantees.”
“Our main ally is and will remain the citizen, and an educated citizen is a strong ally. Our other support is and will remain the law. […] We work only based on the mandate received from the decision-making bodies. In 2017, the SRI is called to protect and promote Romania’s national security based on a law from 1991. 26 years have passed since then and the realities have changed radically. […] It’s time for a large public debate on a package of minimally intrusive national security laws, with constitutional guarantees for citizens, especially with ethical benchmarks, but adapted to what we are living today. The law must protect the citizens’ rights and liberties, but must also offer a framework through which these rights and freedoms are ensured. Without abuses, based on a Western model, transparent and correct,” Hellvig stated.
On the other hand, the Director says he is in favour of more attention to the dangers represented by terrorism, espionage, illegal trafficking, cyber-attacks, but also by other categories of cyber-attacks or forms of hybrid and informational aggressions.
“Through our programme of promoting a culture of security, we want to create in society the necessary antibodies to reject the subtle forms of aggression that some states are trying to use where they have an interest. The Service’s officers will go out in society more, to explain to people and institutions how they must generate measures for the protection of data and assets, how to protect their connected infrastructures, how to shelter themselves from attempts of illicit influencing,” the SRI Director added.
Iohannis: I’ve urged SRI to unconditional balance, objectivity and the deepening of the partnership with civil society
Present at SRI’s activity review meeting, President Klaus Iohannis asked the Service for “unconditional balance and objectivity and the deepening of the partnership with civil society.”
“I have urged SRI to show unconditional balance and objectivity in conducting its activities, and also to deepen its partnership with civil society, with the citizens whose security it is called upon to guard,” Iohannis told a news conference following a meeting on Wednesday that took stock of SRI’s activity in 2016.
He went on to underscore the important part that the SRI plays in preserving national security.
“I have voiced my trust in SRI’s capability of defending us against current and future risks. As an essential pillar of the national security system, the activity of the service, conducted at standards comparable to those in consolidated democracies, enjoys respect from partners, beneficiaries and society alike,” said Iohannis.
He commended the SRI for the outcome of its main missions in 2016 and for its important contributions toward founding strategic decisions, fending off cyberattacks, fighting against organised crime and preventing threats of a terrorist nature.
“Romania and Romanians have been preserved in a safety zone as a result of constant efforts and efficiency of preventive actions on the part of SRI, which cooperated intensely with institutional partners at home and international partners abroad,” said Iohannis.
He also underscored SRI’s preoccupations with achieving a partnership with the citizens.
“I have hailed the Romanian Intelligence Service’s preoccupations with developing its technical and operational capabilities needed to manage the challenges of the information era, and for doing so with good results,” said Iohannis.
He mentioned that in 2016 the SRI continued to enjoy the reputation of a trustful partner in external formats, showing that the SRI actively and consistently contributed toward buttressing Romania’s foreign policy interests.
“I am still expecting at least the same level of contribution to the provision of knowledge required to base decisions regarding the advancement of Romania’s interests,” said Iohannis.
He reiterated the need for instruments, including legislative ones, adjusted to domestic and foreign realities and required for ensuring national security and providing an adequate framework for intelligence activities, being made available to the Romanian State, and to the SRI, implicitly.
“Such instruments are still overdue, even though regional and international developments call for high flexibility and action mobility,” said Iohannis.
In the end, Iohannis praised the SRI for its continual efforts to consolidate its capabilities to manage challenges against national and Euro-Atlantic security.
“I congratulate the SRI staff for their results and success, which oftentimes go unmentioned, as it is in fact natural in the case of a secret service,” said Iohannis.