The MPs that are part of the special commission on the Rosia Montana project are expected to visit the mining town this week in order to form an opinion on the issue.
Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea arrived in Rosia Montana yesterday morning and visited the quarry along with the local authorities and the trade union representatives. The Speaker of the Lower Chamber stated that from his point of view the Romanian state “is capable to protect the environment and at the same time to generate jobs,” claiming that if every investment is blocked then there is “a problem.” “Those that are against it should come here, should come in Parliament too, alongside those who support the project, in order to convince the MPs, because every MP has to listen both to the “pros” and “cons,” Zgonea said, quoted by Mediafax.
Present in Alba Iulia on Saturday, Zgonea said that he asked Environment Minister Rovana Plumb and Grand Projects Minister Dan Sova to hold meetings on this issue with all parliamentary groups next week. In what concerns the visit that will be paid by the members of the special commission, Zgonea pointed out that Parliament will offer all facilities needed for this visit, the transportation and lodging costs set to be covered by it.
Apart from the procedural details, the issue of the gold mining project still generates disputes within the Social Liberal Union (USL), PNL President and Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu having stated on Friday that his party’s Permanent National Bureau (BPN) has reconfirmed the decision taken by its parliamentary groups last week, a decision according to which PNL will vote in Parliament against the government’s draft law on Rosia Montana. Antonescu stated that although this is PNL’s firm decision, transformed on Friday into a political decision not just at the parliamentary level but also at the level of the party’s leadership body, this does not mean that the Liberal MPs will not take part in the debates or within the special commission.
In reply, Social-Democrat Valeriu Zgonea pointed out that he does not believe that the Rosia Montana project will be the reason that will lead to USL’s break-up, but opined that it represents a chance for Parliament to regain credibility. Nevertheless, Zgonea warned that PSD and PNL ran under the USL aegis and have joint responsibilities. Nevertheless, opinions differ within PSD too. While Marian Neacsu, leader of PSD’s group within the Lower Chamber, stated that PSD will assume responsibility for a decision on the Rosia Montana mining project, Social-Democrat MEP Corina Cretu pointed out that she does not support the Rosia Montana project but debating this project within Parliament is an important step, pointing out that in this way people will be informed. In his turn, PDL MEP Jean Marinescu stated on Friday that PDL has always supported the Rosia Montana project, but he does not support Ponta’s draft law. Last week UDMR President Kelemen Hunor expressed his opinion against the draft law, stating that the government should pull it out of Parliament, arguing that it contains many unconstitutional elements and the special commission cannot resolve the underlying problem.
Human chain around Palace of Parliament
Meanwhile, protests against the project continue. On Saturday approximately 5,000 persons formed a human chain around the Palace of Parliament for approximately one hour, protesting against the mining project. At the same time, the participants chanted “United, we save Rosia Montana!” Several hundred people continued the protest in University Square too, protesters blocking the square. Saturday marked the third week of anti-mining protests in Bucharest.