Romania’s new PM Mihai Ungureanu: Oxford graduate, former External Affairs Minister and ‘head spy’

Romania’s newly installed Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu is the country’s former Foreign Intelligence head, which has earned him the name ‘Head Spy’ in the foreign media. At 44, Ungureanu is the youngest PM, and head of the youngest government the country has seen, with an average age of 48.

Born in Iasi, north of Romania, Ungureanu studied at university in his home town and graduated in history and philosophy three years after the fall of communism in the country. Romanian President Traian Basescu referred to Ungureanu’s age group in a recent speech, saying they were 20-21 when communism fell in the country, underlining the rise of a new generation of politicians. Between 1985 and 1989 he was an acting member of the Communist Youth, but not a member of the Communist Party.

Ungureanu holds a Masters degree in Hebrew studies from the Oxford University- Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, St. Cross College, which earned him sympathy from the British Ambassador to Romania, Martin Harris. The Brit, a Cambridge graduate, congratulated Ungureanu on his blog for being the first Oxford graduate to become a Prime Minister in Romania. “The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have a long record of educating British Prime Ministers. William Gladstone, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, they all studied at Oxford,” Harris wrote on his blog.

After the MA from Oxford, Romania’s new PM got a PhD in modern history from the AI Cuza University in his home town Iasi (2004). That year he became the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, back when he was a member of the National Liberal Party (PNL) and in 2007, he was named head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) in the country. He resigned from his job at the SIE after being named PM.

His resignation from the country’s External Affairs Ministry in 2007 came after a dispute with the then PM, liberal Calin Popescu Tariceanu, over the case of Romanian workers in Iraq. Commentators argue that Ungureanu showed his loyalty to the president Traian Basescu back then, to whom he reported the international issue first.

Fluent in English, French and German,and speaking Magyar fairly well, Ungureanu has also taught history and politics at various universities in Romania during his career. He has had several fellowships in Germany, Israel, UK, the US. The PM is married to Daniela Ungureanu, a doctor at the Intensive Care unit in the Fundeni hospital in Bucharest, and has one child.

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