Romanian president lauds intelligence services, says country ‘is safe’

President Klaus Iohannis was heckled during a speech in which he condemned the government for "doing too little". [Romanian Presidency]

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis yesterday (29 March) praised the country’s intelligence services and insisted that Romania is a safe country. EURACTIV Romania reports.

During an annual review meeting of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), Iohannis commended the institution for carrying out its remit and for “making Romania safer in a time of many problems and risks”.

The president, who was joined by the head of the SRI, Eduard Hellvig, said that, “Romania is a safe country that has been spared security and terror incidents.” He also added that SRI’s efforts have been “essential to the fight against corruption”, mentioning also its role in combating tax evasion and organised crime.

The head of state stressed that collaboration and coordination between European intelligence services is essential, given the backdrop of the increasing terrorist threat on the continent.

His comments come at a time when Belgian security services are being heavily criticised for their perceived failings in preventing the Brussels attacks and amidst fresh calls for a pan-European intelligence service or network to be established, to facilitate better sharing of information.

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In turn, Hellvig said that the service’s record over the last year shows that “we are performing, but we are not perfect”, highlighting that SRI had prevented any terrorist attacks from happening, kept extremism and organised crime under control, fought high level corruption and increased the country’s cybersecurity.

However, he did add that there was still work to be done in terms of transparency and resource management.

Hellvig added that last year 340 people were expelled because of a perceived terrorist risk or not allowed to enter the country. SRI is also monitoring “9,000 other people who do not have access to the national territory”.

“We must maintain and develop active partnerships with a focus on regional relations. Romania is today a stronghold of security, but we must be careful not to transform ourselves into an island among our neighbours,” the SRI chief concluded.

In addition to the threat of terror, Romania’s intelligence service is wary of the security challenges posed by its eastern neighbours, including Russia’s recent expansionist tendencies in Ukraine, the instability of Ukraine itself and the unpredictability of Moldova.

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