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October 2, 2022

Governor Isarescu: The BNR treasure remains only case in which assumed restitution obligations have not been respected

The treasure of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) remains the only case in which a monetary gold reserve is entrusted with proper documents that it will be returned at any time at the request of the owner, and the obligations assumed have not been respected, the BNR Governor Mugur Isarescu said on Wednesday.

“The treasure of the National Bank of Romania remains the only case in which a monetary gold reserve is entrusted with proper documents and with all the guarantees of the depositary, the Russian Empire, that it will be returned at any time at the owner’s request because later, indeed due to history, these obligations assumed according to all international norms and customs should no longer be respected,” Mugur Isarescu said in the opening speech on the occasion of debating the volume “The destiny of the Romanian treasure. Arguments from the Russian archives.”

In this context, the BNR governor referred to the way in which the National Bank of Romania behaved with the Central Bank of Poland. Romania deposited Polish gold at the Tismana Monastery and “returned it in 1948 exactly to the Polish government without any documents, based on trust.”

The governor briefly presented the chronology of events that are the topic of the mentioned volume. He said that in December 1916, 1,738 gold boxes of the National Bank, worth 314,580,456.84 million lei, and two boxes of Queen Maria’s jewelry, worth 7 million lei, were loaded in a train bound for Moscow, where they were deposited in the treasury of the State Bank of Russia, located in the “Weapons Hall” of the Kremlin. The value of the entire deposit made in Moscow on behalf of the BNR was 321,580,456 lei gold.

In July 1917, the preparation of another transport began, which included the values of the House of Deposits and Consignments, some of the documents kept in the State Archives, the archives of some public and private institutions, works of art and other valuables belonging to private collections, monastic treasures, rare books, manuscripts, documents and numismatic collections of the Romanian Academy, of the Museum of Antiquities, values of large commercial banks, respectively shares, bonds, customer deposits, etc.

In three of the 24 prepared train cars, 188 boxes of gold and other valuables of the National Bank were loaded. The declared value of the 188 boxes was 1,594,757,083 lei. The actual gold was calculated at 574,523 lei, the archive at 500,000 lei, and the rest represented the value of securities, effects, deposits, books and other BNR documents evacuated together with the gold. After this last transport, the quantity of gold deposited in Moscow reached the value of 315,154,980 lei, being about 91.5 tonnes of fine gold.

“It is often said that only a political decision by Moscow can solve this problem. But, I remind you, a right that is not always asserted falls into oblivion. Debating the issue of the Treasure evacuated to Moscow is a responsibility of all institutions that lost their fortunes in 1916 and 1917, but also of historians, who, after 1990, had the opportunity to pronounce regardless of the way in which demarches were conducted from a political and diplomatic point of view. We believe that research and documentation should continue in archives, photo libraries and libraries. The volume we are proposing today for debate is a good proof in this respect,” said Isarescu, according to Agerpres.

He mentioned that the first field of action of the BNR in this case was related to the works of the Romanian – Russian Commission for the study of problems arising from the history of bilateral relations, including the issue of the Romanian Treasure deposited in Moscow during the First World War. A second field of action of the BNR was the research and capitalization of the archival fund of the institution.

A third area of action was efforts to clarify controversial issues, and a fourth area of action of the BNR was the answer “to the obsessive question: why was the treasure evacuated and why in Moscow?”.

The BNR governor said that the issue of the Romanian treasure declared seized by the Russian authorities sine die in Russia remains as relevant today as it was a century ago.

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