22 September 2021

Prime Minister Cîțu: Withdrawing Rosia Montana’s UNESCO nomination means you are jeopardizing Romania’s chances at the ICSID tribunal!

30 June 2021 – Declic and Mining Watch Romania strongly condemn prime minister Florin Cîțu’s request to retract Rosia Montana’s UNESCO nomination. If this happens, the nomination now still on the UNESCO Committee’s table [1], will be lost.

Prime minister Cîțu is damaging Romania’s interests and defence in the ISDS case; fuelling the mining company’s argument. It is unacceptable that this government is playing along with Gabriel Resources; thus decreasing the chances for Romania to win the case. The prime minister’s unwise request is jeopardizing all the hard work to crush the C$5.7 billion that Gabriel Resources is demanding,” comments Tudor Brădățan, the Executive Director at Declic.

Prime minister Cîțu is following in the footsteps of politicians such as Traian Băsescu, Victor Ponta and Viorica Dăncilă; becoming the latest supporter of cyanide mining at Roșia Montană. At the latest meeting of the governing coalition Florin Cîțu proposed to withdraw the Roșia Montană UNESCO nomination after members of parliament from the PNL party in Alba publicly asked him to do so. This means that the fate of Rosia Montana hangs on a few votes of support for Florin Cîțu in the forthcoming internal elections within the PNL party.

Discussions within the governing coalition have not been finalised and will continue. USR PLUS, through its deputy prime minister Dan Barna and co-president Dacian Ciolos, are opposing prime minister Cîțu’s request. The UDMR leader did not make any remarks, but in  2011 when Minister for Culture, Kelemen Hunor signed the archaeological discharge certificate for the Cârnic massif in Roșia Montană.

According to PNL, Mr Cîțu’s request is based on the ISDS case between Romania and Gabriel Resources at the World Bank’s ICSID Tribunal in Washington DC. Arbitration has once again become the perfect excuse to mask political deals with the mining company. The same excuse was also used by the Dancila government, which during the UNESCO committee plenary in 2018 to postpone the nomination [2].

But today, three years on Florin Cîțu should no longer be able to come out in public with such reasons : they contradict the legal arguments and strategy pursued by Lalive (Switzerland) and Leaua (Romania), the legal team representing Romania. According to case documents, Romania’s lawyers have argued that “Neither the 2015 List of Historic Monuments nor the UNESCO request, both of which predate the initiation of the arbitration, reflect a decision by the state not to allow the project. Moreover, RMGC is solely to blame for any alleged impediment to obtaining construction permits for the project (24 May 2019) [3] or “The request for Roșia Montană to become a UNESCO site has no impact on the project (22 February 2018) [4].

Prime Minister Cîțu’s request to withdraw the UNESCO nomination seriously affects Romania’s position at the World Bank’s ICSID Tribunal. It shows that Romania’s prime minister does not support the arguments of the government’s legal team and that he implicitly approves Gabriel Resources’ arguments. An excerpt from a file document submitted by Gabriel Resources confirms that it has been fast at using such statements or political decisions to its advantage at the tribunal: “Understanding full well that the UNESCO application is a further aggravation of the issues in dispute in this arbitration, the Government itself decided to request postponement of UNESCO’s consideration of its application until the settlement of this ICSID arbitration (Gabriel Resources, 18 February 2021) [5].

Every time Prime Minister Cîțu opens his mouth on Roșia Montane, our chances to win at the ICSID tribunal decrease. And not only that, we are witnessing a new betrayal. Prime Minister Cîțu must assume all the consequences of his statements and actions: losing the ISDS case in Washington, simultaneously with the burial of the chances for sustainable development, international recognition and prosperity for the community of Roșia Montană“, concludes Roxana Pencea, a founding member of Mining Watch Romania.

Notes:

[1] III.F. Withdrawal of nomination, paragraph 152 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention stipulates that a possible return to the Committee requires the preparation of a new dossier which is considered a “new nomination” and which must go through the entire evaluation procedure again. 

[2] July 2018

[3] Neither the 2015 LHM nor the UNESCO application, both postdating the initiation of the arbitration, reflect a determination not to permit the Project (Sections 3.6.2.2 and 3.6.2.3). Furthermore, RMGC only has itself to blame for any alleged impediment to obtain the delivery of building permits for the Project, Lalive, page 213, http://icsidfiles.worldbank.org/icsid/ICSIDBLOBS/OnlineAwards/C4706/DS12932_En.pdf

[4] The Application for Roşia Montană to Become a UNESCO World Heritage Site Does Not Impact the Project” page 159, http://icsidfiles.worldbank.org/icsid/ICSIDBLOBS/OnlineAwards/C4706/DS11550_En.pdf

[5] Understanding full well that the UNESCO application is a further aggravation of the issues in dispute in this arbitration, the Government itself decided to request postponement of UNESCO’s consideration of its application until the settlement of this ICSID arbitration, Gabriel Resources, page 11, footnote 28, http://icsidfiles.worldbank.org/icsid/ICSIDBLOBS/OnlineAwards/C4706/DS16152_En.pdf

 

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