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September 15, 2019
POLITICS

Rosia Montana miners end underground protest

The decision came after their conversation with PM Ponta. The Parliament is expected today to set up the special commission for the gold mining project.

Thirty-three Rosia Montana miners that had been barricaded themselves since Wednesday in an underground gallery, came out on Sunday evening after a conversation with Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who travelled there. He promised them that the members of a special parliamentary committee will also come on site.
“I promised that a committee will be set up and we will bring all the members to talk to them, to see for themselves and decide whether or not to endorse the Rosia Montana gold mining project. But nobody is allowed to say no when they do not know what life these people have. We have to bring the committee here. I promised them and I will keep my word,” said Ponta.
According to images broadcast by television channels, the miners were welcomed by their families and voiced appreciation for the ‘courage’ of Prime Minister Ponta to come and see the true face of things. “School starts tomorrow and the miners’ children should also go to school. I promised them that we will return with a special committee and each MP will listen to them. Let us hear them all out and think that these people have a right to life,” also said Ponta. Asked why he didn’t come earlier at Rosia Montana, the prime-minister answered he wanted to convince the miners on Sunday to go with their children at school on Monday. “All politicians must come here to see for themselves and then cast their vote,” Ponta added.
In their turn, the miners seemed to trust the premier’s words, but warned they would go extremes if the promise didn’t come true. The miners on Wednesday barricaded themselves in the Catalina-Monulesti gallery to protest Parliament potentially rejecting the draft mining law. “There will be a social bomb here. There is no alternative for the locals. They will be left in the streets,” leader of the Future of the Mining trade union Cristian Albu said on September 11.
The standing bureaus of Romania’s Parliament today are expected to convene in a joint session to set up a special committee to inquire into the Rosia Montana gold mining project, as initially established, and discard emergency talks on a draft law concerning the same project. Parliamentary sources told Mediafax the commission is to be headed by the Social-Democrat Iulian Iancu, who is also the president of the Industries and Services Commission of the Chamber of Deputies. The commission is set to have 20 members from all parliamentary groups, according to the political algorithm.
Ponta-Antonescu-Basescu row
President Traian Basescu took the stand these days on Rosia Montana topic. He said the bill on Rosia Montana is not constitutional, therefore it will be rejected by the Constitutional Court.
“You cannot make a law to target a company”, the head of state explained, according to Mediafax. In retort, PM Ponta said while in Targu Jiu that “the President is trying to throw obstacles in the project’s way”, though he had endorsed it for years. “You know very well Mr. Basescu was in favour of this project for many years. Now he is against it, because the Government wants to do it,” Ponta said. He advised Basescu instead he should involve in mediating this conflict. Moreover, the prime-minister added that President Basescu has also promulgated “with his own hands” laws regarding certain companies, such as Petrom, Rompetrol and even Bechtel.
On the other hand the dispute Ponta-Antonescu over this topic went on. Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu said yesterday it became obvious that Victor Ponta was a Rosia Montana supporter, arguing the prime-minister cannot send a parliamentary commission to Rosia Montana, but only a delegation from the Government. The Liberal leader also pointed out that every session of a parliamentary commission is held in the Parliament, and not in the underground gallery or in Universitatii Square. As for him going to Rosia Montana, Antonescu stated that if he went there, the miners would go back underground as a sign of protest, adding this is not the purpose.
Liberal MP Ludovic Orban was even more critical over Ponta’s statements on Rosia Montana. He said yesterday he would vote any censure motion against the prime-minister, as he thinks Ponta is “a failed cross-breed” between “Nastase’s capitalism” and “Iliescu’s communism”. Yet, PNL president Crin Antonescu said Orban had a personal opinion, and PNL will not endorse any censure motion.
Over 10,000 protesters on the streets
The 15th day of the protests against Rosia Montana mining project took over 10,000 persons on the street on Sunday. They marched for more than four hours uptown, blocking the traffic on several major boulevards. Interior Minister Radu Stroe said in retort that Bucharest meeting developed “following correct canons” and that no gendarme has been aggressed by the protesters. “We need to be a little bit more democratic”, the Liberal minister said.

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