SRI chief Eduard Hellvig on Tuesday, in one of his rare public outings, sent a series of cryptic messages, without saying exactly to whom he was referring.
„I also know about the problems generated by some former SRI workers positioned either behind all sorts of people or gravitating around state companies. I can tell you that we are aware of these problems and we will do our best to solve them. However, the great gain of this mandate has been the separation from politics, absolutely normal in a democratic society,” Hellvig said in a speech at the Babes Bolyai University in Cluj.
The SRI chief also said that before his mandate, the SRI had made „a few important mistakes”, without elaborating further. He said only that „too many politicians, in previous decades, got used to receiving ‘indications’ or ‘suggestions’ about what to do”. Suggesting that these mistakes included involving the intelligence services in politics.
Helvig also said he knew there was a lot of mistrust in society about the number of „covert” people and their agenda in various strategic sectors, but gave assurances that in his term in office „their work is carried out strictly within the law”. He said that politics and intelligence gathering should not overlap and that „too many want others to make decisions for them, too many even expect to receive suggestions from the intelligence services”.
Below are the most relevant statements from the speech given at the UBB
- Of course, the SRI has made mistakes. Many, in these 32 years. Fixing mistakes is a complicated process that takes time, expertise, and a lot of effort. One boss’s mistake affects an entire department, and often most of the people in that department are very honest people. Changing people’s minds about a secret service is even more complicated.
- We try to do it gradually, but it’s still not enough. Some of them, made before my tenure, were serious mistakes, and surely my critics will find enough of them during my tenure. I sincerely apologize for them – all of them, including the ones before me. But I am constantly guided by the desire to build, not destroy. I know the sins of which the institution is accused, some real, some wrongly attributed to us.
- I also know of the problems generated by some former SRI workers positioned either behind all sorts of people or gravitating around state companies. I can tell you that we are aware of these problems and we will do our best to solve them. However, the great gain of this mandate has been the separation from politics, which is absolutely normal in a democratic society.
- Politics and intelligence gathering must not overlap. Too often, however, the mistakes of the past also affect the behavior of the present. Too many politicians, in previous decades, have become accustomed to being „told” or ” suggested” what to do. Politicians are elected by the people to think for themselves, invested with their trust to make decisions about what Romania will look like in the future, not just to put out fires of the present and implement plans thought up by others. Yet too many want others to make decisions for them, and too many even expect suggestions from the services. We will only strengthen democracy when we encourage each institution to assume its mandate without abuses and without excesses.
- I know that there is a lot of mistrust in society about the number of „covert” people and their agenda in various strategic sectors. I can assure you that since the beginning of my mandate their work has been carried out strictly within the limits of the law. I know that there is legitimate concern about the situation of the doctorates and masters’ degrees that we support. We have indeed achieved a major reform here and I hope that others will take the measures taken over the years as a good practice manual.
- We have audited and reformed the entire doctoral school, we have gotten rid of what was not working, and today the National Intelligence Academy is a better, more integral place. Personally, I also supported the organization of courses on totalitarianism, so that our officers could learn, from the beginning, what were the horrors of the abuses during the communist dictatorship. Last but not least, I have stimulated the institution to create new courses, which allow students to have access to the most modern technologies.
- I know that the ghost of the Securitate is still attached to our image, as it has returned many times in the Romanian public space during these decades. But here, too, we have done things that I am satisfied with. During my mandate, I handed over the entire Securitate archive to the CNSAS. And we are the only secret service in Romania to have done that.