March 29, 2023

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Hellvig: The SRI renounced political influence. Too many politicians have become accustomed to receiving “directions”

The director of SRI, Eduard Hellvig, claims that during his mandate, the institution separated from politics.

He apologized for the officers’ mistakes, made over time, and which brought a negative perception to the institution, considered the successor of the former Security.

Eduard Hellvig he spoke to the students from Babeș Bolyai University in Cluj on Tuesday, publicly admitting his past mistakes.

I also want to talk about SRI, about our values ​​and achievements, because this institution is a good example of slow but decisive transformation, of gradual but sustainable modernization, of overcoming a threshold in evolution from which we no longer talk about improvisation and stuck in practices of the past, but of innovation and high-level performance.
See it as a symbolic illustration of the transformation of Romania as a whole. Which we often do not understand as it is, because we are used to perceiving it in a paradigm of absolute catastrophe.
And if reform could be done in such a complex institution with such historical baggage, I am optimistic to say that it can be done in other places as well.
Of course, the SRI also made mistakes. Many, in these 32 years. Fixing the mistakes made is a complicated process that requires 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 honest people. Changing people’s minds about a secret service is even trickier. We are trying to do it gradually, but it is still not enough.
Several of them, made before my tenure, were major mistakes, and surely my critics will find plenty of them during my tenure as well. I sincerely apologize for them – for all of them, including those before me.
But I am constantly guided by the desire to build, not to destroy. I know the sins of which the institution is accused, some real, others unjustly attributed to us”
Hellvig said.

The SRI and the politicians

The director of the SRI claims that during his mandate, the SRI was no longer under the influence of politicians.

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Eduard Hellvig

“I also know about the problems generated by some former SRI workers positioned either behind all kinds of people or gravitating around state companies. I can tell you that we are aware of these issues and will do everything in our power to resolve them. However, the great gain of this mandate was the separation from politics, absolutely normal in a democratic society. Policy and information gathering activity should not overlap. Too often, however, the mistakes of the past also affect the behavior of the present. Too many politicians, in previous decades, got used to receiving “directions” or “suggestions” about what to do.
Politicians are elected by the people to think with their minds, invested with their confidence to make decisions about what Romania will look like in the future, not just to put out fires of the present and apply plans thought by others. However, too many want others to make decisions for them, too many even expect to receive suggestions from services.
We will only strengthen democracy when we stimulate each institution to assume the mandate it has, without abuses and without excesses.
I know that there is a lot of mistrust in society regarding the number of “covered” and their agenda in various strategic sectors.
I know that the ghost of Security is still attached to our image, as it has returned many times in the Romanian public space in these decades. But here too I did things that I’m happy with. During my mandate I handed over the entire Security archive to CNSAS. And we are the only secret service in Romania that has done this.
I should have done it sooner, but I’m still very glad that my colleagues and I took it upon ourselves and did this absolutely necessary thing.”

Eduard Hellvig announces the continuation of operations to declassify major events from us.

Declassification will continue, including making available to researchers declassified information about events that took place after 1989. Healing the past can only be possible by presenting the truth. Of course, mistakes are still made. I also know that there will be a lot of discussion again about the new national security laws. And here I repeat what I have already stated. We want updated laws, but we want them as close as possible to the Western model. And if we still got here, it would be desirable for Romanian society and political decision-makers to decide what role they want to assign to the intelligence services. We cannot at the same time be a kind of firemen called to put out the fires started by others and then accused of having put them out. This is actually the elephant in the room and this discussion will not be avoidable indefinitely.
People from the SRI are still being talked about as security guards.
Which is completely unfair. But those who populate this institution today deserve to be spoken of in fair terms. Most of them are young, 30-40 years old, and they learned about the old Securitate from books and archives.”

The danger of exacerbated nationalism

Eduard Hellvig also spoke about the danger of the polarization of society, nationalism and extremism in contrast to European values.

“Liberal, democratic societies are always torn by internal divisions. And democracy sometimes gives the impression of chaos, disorder, lack of perspective. But it is democracy that allows freedoms and future projects that no illiberal society can provide.
And all the things that have allowed us to assert ourselves in the last 30 years as a free, pro-Western, democratic society with a growing economy are also related to our national identity. That’s why I don’t think there should be such a big separation between national pride and upholding universal democratic principles. Thanks to these principles, European societies have succeeded in being the development model to which so many millions of migrants aspire. And the cultivation of national pride should not be left only to the approaches of extremists or populists.
As a personal opinion, I think that a moderate, balanced nationalism should be reassumed, redefined and recultivated by those who have democratic and balanced thinking in Western states, including in the Romania of the future.
There is an old saying of the Transylvanian Germans that I heard very often as a child, and which I like to repeat in public: The first generation fights, the second generation works, and only the third generation eats.
I heard it often, because it explained to me why I had to work and fight. And I was told that the generation that will eat will also come, but it will not be my generation.”

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