Mihai Razvan Ungureanu nominated as SIE director amidst ruling coalition’s opposition

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President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday nominated Mihai Razvan Ungureanu to run the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) in a notice sent to both chambers of the Parliament.

According to the Constitution, Klaus Iohannis informed the speakers of the Parliament’s chambers on this nomination in an official letter. The Parliament is to decide on this matter, reads a release of the Romanian Presidential Administration.

Yet, President Iohannis’ nomination for SIE prompted the first criticism, unveiling the ruling coalition’s deep discontent.

PM Victor Ponta retorted from Turkey where he is admitted in hospital, saying the Social Democrat Party cannot vote for Ungureanu’s becoming the new SIE head, as president Iohannis did not consult anyone in the ruling party on this matter. The prime minister accused the President of dishonestly going back on his promise in this regard.

Previously in the day, the leader of the PSD senators, Ilie Sarbu, also PM Ponta’s father in law, said the nomination is illegal from the procedural point of view, arguing the premier “doesn’t know anything about that and has not been consulted.”

“Legally speaking, the proposal can enter the Parliament’s debate only through the Supreme Council of National Defence (…) Moreover the tradition has been broken, that one of the intelligence directors should be from the opposition and the other from the ruling coalition. We haven’t struggled very hard to nominate the SIE director (…) The proposal for SIE leadership is part of Iohannis’ and National Liberal Party’s strategy to assume the entire rule,” Sarbu stated.

In retort, PNL co-president Vasile Blaga urged PSD to not forget that the directors of intelligence services have always come from the opposition side, expressing conviction the Parliament will Ok Ungureanu’s nomination.

In her turn, the other PNL co-president, Alina Gorghiu said that Ungureanu’s appointment as foreign intelligence head is a major step in shitfing the parliamentary majority, while PSD is reticent to convoke the plenum for this. She warns that unless the Parliament plenum is convened, the Liberals will call for an extraordinary session.

The position of SIE director is vacant since September 22, 2014, when Teodor Melescanu resigned from office to join the presidential race.

Mihai Razvan Ungureanu was foreign minister of Romanian from December 2004 to March 2007. He was appointed as director of Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) later in 2007.

Following the resignation of the government led by Emil Boc Ungureanu was appointed Prime Minister serving through April 2012 when his cabinet was dismissed after a parliamentary vote of no-confidence.

“This nomination is an honor to me and I hope it was an informed one. I would like the Parliament to invest me, we’ll see what comes next from now on,” Ungureanu said on Wednesday.

Asked if he left things unfinished at SIE when he had his first term called off, Ungureanu said there were many projects that he had accomplished.

“We think, Mr. President primarily, that a strong Foreign Intelligence Service is needed, that must be truly involved in ensuring national security in a regional context which is so cloudy, so confused,” he added.

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