Tudose, we won’t give up Roșia Montană!

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Tudose, we won’t give up Roșia Montană!

Roşia Montană / Romania, 30 August 2017 - The Save Rosia Montana! campaign urges Romania’s Prime Minister Tudose to prevent Rosia Montana from being destroyed in agreeing to a compromise of the arbitration case with Gabriel Resources, the Canadian mining company wanting to develop Europe’s largest open-cast mine at Rosia Montana. A compromise between the two parties to the dispute would be lawful for Romania and would likely lead to the withdrawal of the ongoing UNESCO nomination procedure for Rosia Montana as well as the granting of the permit for the mine.

At the same time, members of Alburnus Maior, an association consisting of property owners from Rosia Montana opposing the mine development, and friends supporting their cause will take the streets on Friday, 1. September  in Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi and other cities in the country [1]. Just 4 years after the onset of the 2013 protests, we are stepping into the streets to protest firmly against the Tudose government's attempt to annul everything achieved for Roşia Montană and the fight against corruption.

The plan prepared for the destruction of Roşia Montană is bound to anti-justice measures already announced by the Government. Basically, a compromise with Gabriel Resources would give a green light to a mine development declared illegal by courts and under current legislation. Prime Minister Tudose's statement of Tuesday, August 29 [2] confirms that a withdrawal of the nomination of Rosia Montana to become a UNESCO World Heritage site has been attempted. This is a necessary condition for any settlement of the dispute with Gabriel Resources.

The prime minister’s haste to end the arbitration is due to the fact that the Gabriel Resources v. Romania[3] case is about to enter a new stage. By September, the Washington Tribunal is set to publish the full complaint of the mining company against the Romanian state. The aim of this so-called ‘memorial’ is to motivate a claim of $4.4bn in damages and therefore will contain detailed information whose aim is to harm the Romanian government as much as possible. It’s publication will only be made if there is no compromise between the Romanian state and Gabriel Resources. Hence the haste for a settlement.

The fear that the ‘memorial’ will become public seems to horrify some of the politicians who have supported the mining project over time. Recent media reports have shown how explosive the content of the memorial will likely be. This in return explains the politicians' haste in ending the arbitration. Among those targeted in memorial submitted by Gabriel Resources are likely to be Călin Popescu Tăriceanu [4] or Mihai Tudose [5], who in the name of the Romanian state decide on the future of the arbitration case.

Recent press releases are meant to distract the public from those really guilty; from the real culprits for which Gabriel Resources today claims billions of dollars from all Romanians. We will not give up Roşia Montană and we will not close our eyes to the corruption and the illegalities that characterized this business under criminal law since 20 years," comments Roxana Pencea Bradatan from the Save Rosia Montana! Campaign.

"Tudose's statement is totally hallucinatory. How can you compare a unique cultural heritage dating from Roman times to a dragonfly? Is this what his head can take? I say to Tudose the same I said to Ponta, Băsescu, Tariceanu and all those prime ministers who wanted to destroy our community: we will not leave our homes and our lands to make room for your cyanide and enrichment!" concludes Eugen David, President of the Alburnus Maior Association.

Background Information:

After the protests of 2013/14, which revived the country’s civic spirit and gave hope to a whole generation of Romanians; both Gabriel Resources (‘Gabriel’) and the Romanian state significantly changed their strategy. Gabriel Resources was forced to pull its ace: the threat of international arbitration against Romania. And the Romanian state played the book of silence.

In summer 2015, Gabriel made the first move. It filed for arbitration with the International Court of Justice in Washington. A series of press threats from the mining company followed with a statement that it was claiming an amount of $4.4bn in damages from the public budget. During this time, the Government made no statement to ensure its citizens it will fight ‘til the very end to defend Romania. Instead the government without assuming any official position has, via arranged leaks, been quick to confirm that the Canadian company has all documents to justify its claims. Moreover on August 21. 2017 the Romanian news agency ‘Agerpres’ published an article disclosing that the very lawyers representing the Romanian government in the arbitration case recommended Prime Minister Tudose to abandon the arbitration and approve the Rosia Montana gold mine instead.

After years of collision, the interests of the mining company and of Romania’s politicians now coincide again. The mining company wants to make money at any cost, and politicians want to protect their skin. In 2014 Romania’s current prime minister Mihai Tudose declared that "the deposit must be exploited," and now finds time to fulfill his duty to Gabriel Resources. The haste is all the greater for Romanian officials as the mining company is likely to give a full show of the dealings they have had with them.

Three days ago the de-clic campaign community launched a petition addressing the prime minister. It’s entitled "We won’t give Roşia Montană!": campanie.de-clic.ro/nu-cedam-Rosia-Montana

Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) is 80% owned by Gabriel Resources (TSX: GBU), the remaining is held by Romania’s government (just under 20%). To develop Europe’s largest gold mine at Rosia Montana both planned to uproot Rosia Montana’s population. From its outset, their project was beleaguered with corruption, operational problems and strong local, national and international opposition. Since 2007 the development has been blocked by final court sentences as a result of actions initiated by NGOs in Romania; including Alburnus Maior, an association of property owners from Rosia Montana. As a result, in 2013 the government tried to pass a law to fast-track the stalled mine by declaring it of national interest. This attempt to defy the law combined with a threat by Gabriel to seek compensation if the mining project was not approved, brought  hundreds of thousands of people in Romania and abroad to the streets until the government backed down.

Notes:

[1] current lists of scheduled protests:

București: https://www.facebook.com/events/689970724545359

Cluj: https://www.facebook.com/events/1902753960046926

Iași: https://www.facebook.com/events/312200695918631

Sibiu: https://www.facebook.com/events/1724256161201294

[2] Extract from Prime Minister Mihai Tudose's statement made on RomaniaTV.net: "It's hard to accept, but after accepting, it is almost impossible to withdraw. We will try to withdraw, to write that we do not maintain the point of view any longer but this is putting us into a totally strange situation with the international bodies in the field. If things remain definitive, it is closed.There are our gold deposits.You could declare them as protected back here at home and we protect them, we de- or un-protect them - we could say that there lives the last species of dragonfly and then we find out that the dragonfly is no longer and has not left heirs. I do not believe in coincidences," concluded Tudose.

[3] https://icsid.worldbank.org/en/Pages/cases/casedetail.aspx?CaseNo=ARB/15/31

[4] http://www.mediafax.ro/politic/tariceanu-pledeaza-pentru-proiectul-rosia-montana-daca-nu-se-face-statul-roman-are-o-mare-problema-de-mediu-9719824

[5] http://www.digi24.ro/stiri/sci-tech/natura-si-mediu/mihai-tudose-ministrul-propus-la-economie-sustine-proiectul-rosia-montana-zacamantul-de-asta-il-avem-ca-sa-l-exploatam-335278