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The Tsunami Blaga sweeps the Romanian Police

Minister of Administration and Home Affairs, Vasile Blaga, one of the politicians true to the incumbent President, stands out through his management skills.Blaga is one of the new politicians promoted by Traian Băsescu, with a fairly quick rise, just like Traian Băsescu. One may even say that his rise coincides with Traian Băsescu’s. Because Vasile Blaga was Traian Basescu’s confidante ever since the latter took over the helms of PD. At the time, PD was a party on the verge of collapse. Now, PD is in Power, and Vasile Blaga was appointed to two key offices: head of the Presidential Administration, where he did not stay for too long, and Minister of Administration and Home Affairs. Two key positions in the fight against corruption.

As soon as he took the Administration and Interior mandate, Vasile Blaga set off to work. And there was plenty to do, as one of the main problems facing Romania is corruption in administration and Police. Although he doesn’t come from within the system, as he is an engineer by trade, Blaga has indeed launched a reform in the Ministry. One of the first measures he took once appointed a Minister was to replace one of the key persons in the Ministry: controversial general Toma Zaharia, the one who had been running the Ministry from backstage for over 12 years. Toma Zaharia is linked to a number of corruption scandals. Only a few days later, secretaries of state for public administration and police head Dumitru Sorescu were replaced from office. The latter was replaced by senior officer Dan Valentin Fătuloiu, who held the office during the Constantinescu mandate as well. Minister of Administration Vasile Blaga then appointed a new deputy Chief of the Romanian Police Inspectorate General, officer Eugen Corciu who, until Tuesday, had been the director of the National Focus Point with the Ministry of the Interior. Vasile Blaga did not stop here. Next came the restructuring of the Ministry’s Intelligence and Protection General Directorate, headed by another senior character in the Ministry, general Virgil Ardelean, nicknamed “The Fox”. General Virgil Ardelean’s name is also connected to a range of media scandals, most of them related to unauthorised phone tapping on journalists and politicians. The most recent such scandal burst out soon after the new Power took over, and was related to tapping the phone of the officer in charge with the FNI and Banca Agricolă files, but also phones of certain press agencies. This is the scandal that kindled the reform of the Ministry’s Intelligence and Protection Directorate General. Since at the respective time Vasile Blaga was in London with President Traian Băsescu, it was from there that the greenlight came. Because eliminating corruption from the Administration and Interior structure is in fact one of the new Minister’s priorities. Consequently, Minister Vasile Blaga announced establishing a new structure, which he would personally coordinate, and which will take over the task of combating internal corruption from the police intelligence service headed by Virgil Ardelean. “My idea is to bring to the helm of this structure a young prosecutor, an outsider to the system, a person with thorough knowledge of procedures, a good manager and, first of all, one who is above corruption”, Minister Blaga said. He also announced that combating organised crime would be transferred to the specialised Directorate General of the Ministry of Administration and Home Affairs. Through these decisions, two of the most important departments so far coordinated by Virgil Ardelean were taken out of his control. Which reduced Virgil Ardelean’s authority in the Ministry to zero almost, and which will eventually lead to his replacement.

Initial changes at central level were followed by changes in the country, where most of the police heads are former ruling party cronies. So the heads of the Constanţa and Brăila Police are leaving the Interior Ministry, on March 1.

Minister of Administration and Home Affairs Vasile Blaga ordered that decrees be drafted in this respect and submitted for approval to President of Romania Traian Băsescu.

The resulting vacancies will be filled through free competition, in order to exclude all possible influences and subjective interpretations. The only evaluation criteria will be competence and professional ethics. The Minister also announced that the Ministry’s Control Corps would be sent to thoroughly check some of the Police Inspectorates. One example is that of Constanţa, where, “although the European Union speaks about the high smuggling rate in the port, drug trafficking included, in 2004 there was not a single smuggling case investigated by the Constanţa County Police”. Blaga added that for this reason the chief of Constanţa County Police Inspectorate Traian Jipa “will get tired and retire”. Sources with the local police stated that, shortly after Minister Vasile Blaga announced the Constanţa police head could be released from office, Traian Jipa allegedly left for his home in Brăila, and got referred to hospital. Only the senior deputy to the chief inspector, Vasile Bălan, is currently heading the local police inspectorate, given that the other deputy, Lian Constantin, has also taken a sick leave.

Next came “termination of employment with the Ministry, as of February 28, 2005,” for officers Ioan Grecu and George Seriţan, Mircea Bucur, Constantin Codiţă, Nicolae Gheorghe Şuteu and Aurel Milescu. Ioan Grecu is deputy Secretary General of the Ministry; Seriţan has a senior position with the”Alexandru Ioan Cuza”Police Academy in Bucharest; Mircea Bucur is the chief of Brasov County Police Inspectorate, Codiţă – head of the Dolj Inspectorate; Şuteu heads the Sibiu Police while Aurel Milescu is the director of the Fraud Investigation Department with the Romanian Police General Inspectorate (IGPR). All names are stained. Which is why prosecutors with the Public Ministry have heard County- chief inspector Constantin Codiţă, in the file on Dolj businessman Genică Boerică. He was heard as a witness, to present details on how he rented an apartment from an employee with the Dolj County Directorate General for Public Finances, in March – September 2001, through Boerică. Also, during hearings investigators established that, after investigating the Boerică file, Dolj police had filed three motions to dismiss criminal investigations and six motions to transfer the case to other institutions. Businessman Genică Boerică was taken under preventive custody on October 4, 2004, by prosecutors with the Bucharest Court, under charges of tax evasion, money laundering and false statements.

In turn, in July 2001, head of the Braşov Police Mircea Bucur was publicly taking responsibility for his subordinates, members of a quick task force who had beaten up an Italian citizen they had mistaken for a dangerous criminal. The Braşov police chief added that he accepted “all consequences” and said he would do his best to make sure no such mistakes will be made again by Brasov County Police officers.

What to do next ?

The Ministry of Administration and Home Affairs is an important issue in the European Union accession negotiations. So Minister Blaga will have quite a difficult time. Administration must be fully reformed, and as far as the Home Affairs chapter goes, Romania has to meet all the seven conditions requested by the EU, in order to avoid activation of the safeguard clause. Brussels authorities expressed their willingness to help Romania on its difficult road to meeting commitments undertaken upon closing accession negotiations. They refer to ensuring a high control and monitoring level in checkpoints and along the green and blue border, with Romania undertaking to present to the European Commission a multi-annual investment plan in this respect, as well as a Border Police recruitment plan.All these involve regular reports to the European Union and a range of notable legislative modifications. Furthermore, the Minister must work to eliminate corruption from the system, an endeavour in which he will have few allies inside the Ministry.

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 23
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