POLITICS

Basescu: Referendum on Rosia Montana possible, not initiated

‘From now on I’ll be neutral on this topic’, the President says.

President Traian Basescu seems to have had a change of heart regarding Rosia Montana referendum. While at the beginning of the week he was determined to call for a referendum at the same time with the European elections, on Tuesday night, in a press conference at Cotroceni Palace, the head of state said that he did not initiate a process to call a referendum on the Rosia Montana mining project, but just put it forward as a possibility. “Before coming out with this press statement, I signed a reply [to Valeriu Zgonea’s letter]. Firstly, I didn’t initiate such a process, I just mentioned it as a possibility. Secondly, I consider that a debate in Parliament is likely to clarify many of the Romanians’ questions about this project,” Basescu said, quoted by Agerpres.
He once again pointed out that if, following debates in Parliament, the Romanian society were deeply divided on the Rosia Montana subject, he would not sign into law a bill on the mining project before calling a referendum. The President added that, although he had been one of the supporters of the mining operations at Rosia Montana so far, from this moment, his stances on the topic would be “neutral” so that he could be a credible mediator.
Asked to explain his critics on PM Ponta regarding “how much he took” to approve the bill regulating Rosia Montana mining operations, the president  said he paid Ponta back his own coin, as, while in the Opposition, the Premier had also accused Basescu he had took money for promoting Rosia Montana project. Basescu noticed there are a Premier and an MP at the helm of the Government, but “it’s barely one of two”.
PM Ponta also took a stand yesterday on Rosia Montana, announcing Parliament had set a special commission to debate Government’s bill. The prime-minister took the opportunity to criticize PDL and former Boc Cabinet. “The former Cabinets blocked the bill, did not say yes or no. We negotiated and made essential changes (…) The draft law stipulates that all the incomes will be used for regional projects. Mr. Boc should understand now, as he has done nothing for Transylvania so far”, Ponta said during the Government session. As if reading Ponta’s mind, ex-PM Emil Boc retorted by asking the Government to withdraw Rosia Montana bill. Boc argued the bill is unconstitutional.
Dues for the gold exploitation at Rosia Montana shall attain 6 per cent of the output, reads the draft law posted on the web page of the Department for Infrastructure Projects and Foreign Investments. The draft also stipulates that the exploitation license can be protracted, in compliance with the time span it has been asked for, and the results of the feasibility survey of the project the License’s titular submitted to the National Agency for Mineral Resources for successive time spans of up to 20 years, each. According to the bill, environment agreement is expected to be issued this month, while the exploitation works might start in 2016.
Meanwhile, protests against Rosia Montana bill carried on Tuesday night, hundreds of protesters blocking Victoria Square for the third consecutive day.
Romania still cautious on Syria
In Tuesday’s night press conference, Traian Basescu also reiterated that the position on Syria stays the same, namely that Romania will display caution and solidarity with its allies if they decide to give Syria a signal. “We are keeping the position I voiced at the meeting with Romanian ambassadors accredited abroad, namely that at this stage Romania believes it should display prudence and should its allies decide to take measures to signal to Syria that the use of toxic gases in battle is not tolerated Romania will display solidarity with its allies,’ Basescu told the journalists, stressing that there is no friendship between him and Bashar al-Assad, just an institutional relationship. The President explained that Romania’s position on Syria is prudent also because there is a large number of Romanian nationals there, saying that the repatriation of 19 Romanian nationals is underway. “(…) We have a problem related to the presence in Syria of Romanian nationals in mixed families and their children, while the people holding a Romanian passport is not grouped together. They are speed all over the country. We need to be able to help them as reasonably as possible,” Basescu said, also pointing out there is a large number of Romanians who, disregard Romanian Foreign Ministry’s warning to leave Syria.
Decisions in Videanu, Tokes’ cases, on stand-by
The head of state prefers to defer an immediate decision in Adriean Videanu and Laszlo Tokes’ cases. He said he would make a decision related to the request of the prosecutor general from the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice to launch criminal proceedings against former PDL Minister Videanu after looking into the documents. As regards the Liberal Minister Varujan Vosganian, the President said he was waiting for the Senate’s decision in this case first. As for MEP Laszlo Tokes, Basescu said it is the Council of Honour of the Order of the ‘Star of Romania’ s call to strip Tokes of the distinction. “If the Council of Honour [of the Order of the ‘Star of Romania’] asks the President to strip the recipient of the Order, the President releases the decree. If the Council concludes that the award should not be reversed, then this high decoration cannot be withdrawn”, Basescu said.

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