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Socialist advisers call for more effective secret services

An advisory group of the senior governing Socialist Party (MSZP) criticised the coalition government for what it called an ill-prepared decision on merging the country's secret services, a national daily said on Wednesday.

The government decided earlier that the current five secret services should be merged into three organizations. Uncertain about their future, the services' staff members proved to be irresolute in crucial situations, such as the violent actions that shook the streets of Budapest last autumn. The secret services were inefficient in preventing crimes and detecting the extremist groups' intention to turn anti-government demonstrations into rioting, the group said in a statement reported by Népszabadság.

"In the field of national security it is very easy to conceal truth behind state secrets," the group said, adding that day-to-day political disputes sometimes distracted the party leaders' attention from the strategic issues of national security. According to the advisers, the three civilian and two military secret services are characterized by overlaps, inflexibility in cooperation and rivalry. The group proposed that the secret services should once again be put under the control of a minister without portfolio or a state secretary. It also urged to eliminate overlaps, which would reduce costs and increase efficiency. (english.mti.hu)