Eduard Hellvig announced, on Monday, that he is ending his mandate as director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) after 8 years. He was appointed to the position on March 3, 2015, at the proposal of President Klaus Iohannis.
“It is healthy for a director of services to have a limited mandate. It’s a gesture of democratic health”, said Hellvig. “It is a wrong custom in our country, that those who hold positions of power do not leave them until the last moment, possibly forced. Most people who hold power do not relinquish it when they achieve their goals, for various reasons. I personally believe that such a step is needed. It is primarily a gesture of democratic health, which I have argued unequivocally since the first year of my mandate. It is healthy for democracy, for the balance of power in the state, for an intelligence service director to have a time-limited mandate,” he argued.
“Petrification in office is not good, it can lead to setting wrong objectives for the institution, to losing contact with social reality, to confusing the office with the person who holds it. I do not want this for myself, nor for an institution that is more valuable than any director it has had. I do not want to avoid the frontal approach of a topic that is legitimately debated in the public space: the position of director of an intelligence service gives access to a significant volume of sensitive information. I don’t think it’s good for democracy for one person to concentrate exposure to classified information for a long time. Quite simply, I believe that the citizens and the state are better served if the leadership of the SRI is succeeded by leaders at clearly established time intervals. I believe that since I have achieved my stated goals, there is no reason to continue to exercise this position,” the resigning SRI chief said in a press statement.
He added that the Romania Intelligence Service has undergone major transformation in the past years.
“I think it is important for society and citizens to know that the SRI has changed significantly in these years, so that it can act more efficiently and more adapted to the current challenges, in order to protect Romania. We are at the end of a very important process of reconfiguring all SRI components, both at the local and regional level. It was a process aimed at providing the institution with a conceptual integrated security system, as well as increasing its efficiency in preventing and countering threats to national security.”
Accoridng to Hellvig, the SRI activity report for 2022 shows the successful completion of two major projects – Regio and Centrio, followed by multiple stages of organizational resettlement. “Through these two reorganization projects, SRI became a modern, flexible and debureaucratized institution,” he argued.
“The Regio project started in 2017 and had as its objective the territorial reorganization of the institution, in order to adapt to the current realities and to the predominant threats of a particular geographical area. Today there are no more 41 miniature Services related to each county and the Capital. Now we are talking about a new regional organization, with fewer directions, with a shortened chain of command and with increased flexibility, which has already produced very good results.
The Centrio project meant the next step – that is, the fundamental transformation of the Service’s central units in relation to a simple idea: operations first. Together with important institutional partners, on the Euro-Atlantic model, we reformulated the work concepts so that human and financial resources, investments and priorities are directed in direct relation to national security objectives. This also involved assurances related to maintaining the legal and constitutional framework, with an emphasis on increasing efficiency and consolidating the good prestige created in the relationship with our EU and NATO partners,” further reads Hellvig’s statement.
Eduard Hellvig was the campaign manager of Klaus Iohannis in the 2014 presidential election, when he had a very close fight with Victor Ponta, the PSD candidate. In the period 1998-2000 Hellvig was a political adviser to the former PNL vice-president Horia Rusu and to the Minister of the Interior Constantin Dudu Ionescu, as well as an adviser to the Romanian presidential candidate Mugur Isărescu.
In 2004, he was elected deputy for Bihor in the Romanian Parliament, during his mandate he was secretary of the Commission for Defence, Public Order and National Security and a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Eduard Hellvig was elected in 2006 to be part of Romania’s first MEPs, during which he was part of the International Trade Commission (INTA) and the Security and Defense Subcommittee (SEDE).
From 2008 he was a member of the National Liberal Party, in 2009 becoming the advisor to the president of the PNL Crin Antonescu. From the beginning of 2011 until March 11, 2014 he held the position of secretary general of the National Liberal Party.
In 2012 he was part of the Victor Ponta Government, as Minister of Regional Development and Tourism. In 2012 he was part of the Victor Ponta Government, as Minister of Regional Development and Tourism.
Eduard Hellvig was vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies and was part of the Commission for European Affairs and the Romanian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. On September 3, 2013, he resigned from the Romanian Parliament to take over the mandate of liberal MEP.
Who’s taken the interim position?
Eduard Hellvig’s SRI director position will be temporarily occupied by the first deputy of the SRI, general Răzvan Ionescu, with over two decades of experience in the operative work of the Service. Before being the first deputy head of the SRI, he headed a central unit for combating cross-border threats.
Aged 47, Răzvan Ionescu is a graduate of the Faculty of Physics of the University of Bucharest. He attended postgraduate courses specializing in Geopolitics and Geostrategy from the Academy of Economic Studies, graduated from the NATO Senior Executive master’s degree from SNSPA and graduated from the seminar on Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism from the European Center for Security Studies George C. Marshall from Germany.