Despite protest, Basescu maintains stance on Rosia Montana

He explained the project’s benefits to protesters outside the Presidential Palace and promised them he will work on declassifying the contract.

Over 100 persons gathered outside the Presidential Palace on Tuesday evening, carrying red cards, red pieces of paper and red plastic bags and protesting against the position that Traian Basescu adopted in favor of the mining project in Rosia Montana. The flash mob invitation was launched by Alburnus Maior, the main NGO that opposes the mining project. A similar project took place in Cluj, outside the PDL headquarters.

Several minutes into the protest, President Basescu came out to meet the protesters, talking with them for approximately half an hour. He explained that he decided to come out and meet them because he appreciated their civilized protest. The Head of State told protesters that he has not given up his point of view on the Rosia Montana project, his opinion being based on consultations with the specialists. The President offered assurances that the Rosia Montana mining project will not affect the environment, the scenery, the hiking routes or the historical vestiges.

He reiterated the project’s benefits, talking about the creation of jobs and the sums that the Romanian state could win, however he was interrupted by disgruntled protesters more than once. The President said that Rosia Montana will create 4,000 jobs and “all employees, including the director, will be Romanians.” He also stated that mining the gold at Rosia Montana is a necessity in order for Romania to avoid using foreign loans to finance its social security and pension budgets’ deficits.

Asked by a protester why the gold is not mined by the state or why are not the gold deposits nationalized, the President said that a nationalization would be a return to the system toppled 21 years ago and pointed out that the Constitution offers the possibility of granting the exploitation of resources and added that the state lacks the means to mine the gold at Rosia Montana by itself. Asked by protesters whether he considers declassifying the contract, the President said that he will take care of that too. According to Mediafax, he stated in front of the protesters that the state would “surely have had” a bigger share had he negotiated the contract in 1997, adding that the state’s share stood at 37 per cent at first. The President stated that after receiving the specialists’ reports that recommended the start of the mining operations provided the environment permit is obtained he had “no serious doubts” that he had adopted the correct position.

The Head of State rejected the idea of organizing a referendum on the Rosia Montana issue. He explained that a referendum is not possible because the approach is “extremely technical.”

During the dialogue some of the protesters accused him of intervening out of personal interest. Asked by one of the protesters what was his “price” in exchange for getting involved in the project, President Basescu answered: “You cannot state what your price is because you never tested yourself. I have no price. I’ve tested myself and I can tell you I have no price. I have no price.” Protesters accused the President of lobbying on behalf of a foreign company too. “Then let’s shut down Nokia and Dacia too because they have private foreign capital, let’s shut down Petrom too,” Basescu answered.

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