18 July 2019

When will the first Supreme Defence Council meeting take place this year?

Stefan Danila

Does Romania’s Supreme Council of National Defence (CSAT) function in very high secrecy or is it suspended? It seems nobody is surprised by the fact a meeting was not announced this year. According to the Constitution, “The Supreme Council for National Defence organizes and coordinates unitary actions regarding the country’s defence and national security, participation to maintaining international security and common defence in military alliance systems, as well as actions to maintain or re-establish peace”. This fundamental institution of the Romanian state has its own regulatory law and rules of procedure, according to the law. Despite the fact that attributions are specified clearly, there was no CSAT meeting this year.

Image source: Mediafax

I re-read both the law[i] and the rules of procedure from its official site. I did not find any amendments to suggest that information regarding meeting dates is now classified. Only on their content. According to the law, CSAT holds meetings on a quarterly basis. This continues with “any time it is necessary”, expressing the possibility of additional meetings, when needed, but does not give the possibility of cancelling the quarterly ones. The previous meetings, on December 11 and 19, respectively, last year, showed that meetings outside those already planned can be organized, but we cannot suspect that these two meetings solved all the problems, or that this institution was considered useless after them.

The multiple activities carried out to accomplish duties as president of the Council of the European Union, the important EU summit in Sibiu, the European Parliament elections cannot excuse the lack of concern for national security issus, mainly at the level of the CSAT president and deputy president.

The lack of coordination between the two components of executive power affected many activities, with one the very important institutions being the one responsible for national security. It is no surprise then to observe Romania’s delayed reaction to the situation in the Republic of Moldova, decisional confusion regarding its Embassy to Israel, appointments to ranks of lieutenant-general or higher, or promotions of those who accomplish the attributions of offices reserved for the ranks of general or admiral (regardless of the number of stars), but also other less visible decisions or indecisions.

There is also the practice of approving important documents by having them successively presented to the secretary’s office, but this cannot be generalized all the way to breaking legal provisions. There is a Plan of CSAT activities approved at the end of last year. This plan was not respected this year. There is a structure designated to accomplish some tasks, which it might have accomplished. Up to a point where a decision is necessary, for which the law sets responsible parties: the CSAT secretary, deputy president and president.

The plan to equip the armed forces is approved annually, point at which what was accomplished in the previous year is also verified and established. Should a report on last year’s purchases have been presented and discussed? Would it have been necessary? Most of us would say yes, but those who are responsible do not concern themselves with this.

Should institutional reports on the use of founds for operative spending (so full of controversy!) have been discussed before the discharge was approved?

Should a locum for the Chief of the Romanian General Staff have been appointed, and the problem of a new chief, still dispute, been clarified?

Should the appropriate ranks have been granted for those who hold offices required for the ranks of general or admiral, but are assigned to colonel transports whenever they take part in an international mission? Including those who have representative offices, allotted to each state in the Alliance.

Could the cyberattack against some Romanian hospitals also have been analysed?

I cannot list other subjects that should have been discussed, documents which should have been reviewed or approved, which would be the basis of Romanian state institutions' actions.

The fact that the president assumed the good presidency of the Council of the European Union, although he had great reservations on the capabilities of the current government, brings a hope for a return to normality. And one of the signs would be a CSAT meeting before going on holiday. If the holiday has not begun already anyway![ii]

[ii] Consulting any agenda of accountable institutions shows past events, whereas the word “agenda” has a totally different definition.

Translated by Ionut Preda