Europa Nostra appeals to Romania’s Parliament to opt for an alternative and sustainable development of Rosia Montana
The leading European heritage organisation, Europa Nostra, has expressed its serious concern about the draft law which would allow a Canadian-based company to set up Europe’s biggest open-cast gold mine in Roşia Montană. In a letter addressed to Romanian parliamentarians, the civil society partner of the European Union, the Council of Europe and UNESCO, warned of the anticipated negative impact of the project on cultural heritage and the environment and called for an alternative and sustainable development plan for the region. Europa Nostra, together with the European Investment Bank Institute, listed Rosia Montana as one of ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ monuments and sites in Europe in June. The draft law proposed by the Romanian Government in August has sparked a wave of demonstrations across the country. The Romanian Parliament is expected to vote on it in November.
“Europa Nostra has conveyed to each and every member of the Romanian Parliament its serious concern regarding the proposed draft law on Roşia Montană. The planned legislation contains provisions which constitute a dangerous precedent for Romania since they violate some of the basic principles of human rights, the rule of law and separation of powers, which form part of the core values protected and promoted by the Romanian Constitution and also by the European Union, through treaties which have been ratified by Romania,” states Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra. “More specifically, this draft law gives powers to a private company allowing it to override the national laws of Romania, including the law on the protection of cultural heritage, to remove the rights of some private owners, and even to circumscribe the power of the judiciary,” he adds.
The draft law, announced by the Government at the end of August, has caused wide-spread protests in Romania and beyond. “The mining project, as promoted by Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, contains risks for the environment and cultural heritage and threatens the trust between citizens and public authorities. The approval of the proposed legislation could therefore have far-reaching consequences for democracy and social cohesion in Romania,” highlights Denis de Kergorlay.
Europa Nostra has urged Romanian parliamentarians to start a genuine and thorough discussion on an alternative and sustainable solution for Roşia Montană. “Such a development plan would not only protect and promote the unique cultural and natural assets of the area (which include 150 km of pre-Roman and Roman galleries, archaeological artifacts and settlements witnessing an uninterrupted industrial life), but also bring long-term jobs to the region through the promotion of sustainable tourism, organic agriculture and other locally-based economic activities,” advocates John Sell, Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra.
“Europa Nostra remains confident that with the help of EU Structural Funds, currently under discussion for the period 2014-2020, the Romanian authorities will be able to define an alternative plan for the development of Roşia Montană which would be sustainable, respectful of its environment, culture and heritage, and which will meet with the full agreement of the citizens of Romania,” he stresses.
Following many years of campaigning, Europa Nostra included the historic mining landscape of Roşia Montană in the first list of ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ monuments and sites in Europe, a programme launched in 2013 together with the European Investment Bank Institute, as founding partner, and the Council of Europe Development Bank, as an associate partner. A delegation comprised of top-level heritage and financial experts will visit Romania in the coming months. “We look forward to meeting with representatives of the Romanian Government and Parliament to discuss a long-term development plan for Roşia Montană,” concludes the Executive President of Europa Nostra.