Friday, March 23, 2007

Romania: Security laws discussed in Parliament

March 2007

The Legal and Defence Commissions of the Chamber of Deputies started the debates over the five draft laws from the package regarding the national security, but they found out that there is not any point of view of the Government or the Supreme Defence Country (CSAT) over this package, Nine o' Clock reports.
The most important thing, however, is that the discussions over these draft laws take place in the absence of a national security strategy that Cotroceni Palace should have worked out two and a half years ago. According to the Constitution of Romania, “the President of Romania is the commander of the army and fulfils the office of president of the Supreme Defence Council.”

Moreover, art. 5 from the Law regarding the planning of defence stipulates that the President of Romania submits to Parliament, in six months at most after he was sworn in, the National defence strategy, which Parliament discusses and approves through resolution, in a joint session. In this context, the package of laws regarding national security, initiated by 71 Liberal MPs, has arrived on the table of the Deputies who decided to request CSAT, the Government and the parliamentary parties a point of view over this issue.

“Without this strategy, the discussions will be subjective,” said the PSD Deputy, Marian Saniuta. SPP, STS might to be subordinated to MAI The representatives of the Services targeted in this legislative package, the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), the Guard and Protection Service (SPP), the Special Telecommunications Service (STS), present at the debates of the Commissions, criticised the five draft laws.

STS and SPP are the most affected because according to the normative acts these Services – which currently are accountable only to Parliament – will be subordinated to the Ministry of Administration and Home Affairs (MAI). Present at the debates, SPP director, Gen. Lucian Pahontu, said that if this Service is shifted to MAI it is not clear any more who will manage the missions to be carried out by SPP and, especially who will he responsible for these missions.

Moreover, the Services are prohibited to receive funds from other sources than the state budget and, also, to have agents under cover in the media, politics or unions.

The package of laws also stipulates the strengthening of parliamentary control over the activity of the intelligence Services. The Democrat Deputy Daniel Buda asked why the Government has not worked out the legislative package, if Premier Calin Popescu Tariceanu is one of the initiators.

“This legislative package is in a proportion of 80 per cent similar to the one adopted by the Government in October 2006. (…)

We wanted to issue a political signal and therefore it was signed by 71 MPs. Hopefully, CSAT will prove this time a bigger opening and will express its point of view,” explained the Liberal Deputy George Scutaru. He stressed that if the legislative package is not passed in 60 days, it will be approved tacitly by the Chamber of Deputies and then will go to Senate.

The normative acts have very big chances to be tacitly adopted, as demonstrated yesterday by the Deputies, who tried for over half an hour to set a common working agenda together with the representatives of the involved Services in order to finalise the debates within the 60 days.

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