I’ve been remiss in not mentioning a couple of events which have been making the headlines here in Romania in the last few weeks. First the demonstrations in most cities against the Rosia Montana gold mine exploitation, spoilation and devastation in the heart of Transylvania.
The project’s opponents criticise the use of cyanide - 12,000 tons of it to be precise - that's 12 times higher than anything ever seen in European goldmining, which would have a devastating and irreversible impact on the region’s biodiversity. Four mountains surrounding the village would be destroyed in the process and Roman mining galleries unique in Europe would be damaged, archeologists and historians have warned on countless occasions. Alas, the Romanian government supports it, singing loudly of its economic value, and ironically, the ecological and cultural benefits for the region.
The new 'law' breaks legal and constitutional provisions for the protection of private property, cultural heritage protection, environmental protection, watersheds, forests, grasslands, public property, access to justice for citizens, free competition - enfin, bref, it is especially designed for a foreign private company - Gabriel Resources. Therefore, the government's proposed referendum is nothing more than a travesty. You cannot have a referendum on a law that is illegal. Not even in Romania.
This so-called 'law', writes Claudia Ciobanu for the Guardian, "would give Gabriel Resources extraordinary powers, including the right to conduct expropriations in Rosia Montana. The text mandates authorities to give the company all necessary permits for construction and exploration by set terms (15 days, 30 days, 60 days, etc) regardless of national legislation, court rulings or public participation requirements. If the parliament approves this law (a vote could take place as early as this month), Romanian citizens will no longer have a say over Rosia Montana. Outrage was compounded by the fact that, while in opposition, Ponta's Social Democrats had declared themselves against the project. This turnabout reinforced the perception that the political class is corrupted and unworthy of trust."
A young Romnian journalist also has a take....
The second event which has been gripping Romania’s cultural elite is the bi-ennial George Enescu International Festival – broadcast on the airwaves with interminable interviews with performers and audience.
Also quite a few book festivals going on – I missed the Transylvanian one at the beginning of the month (frankly I didn't fancy the clipped upper-class anglo-saxon tones which promised to be monopolising the area - compared with the Alba-Iulia Festival organised by Dilema Veche) but I might just make the tail-end of the Bucharest Book street festival. And the Iasi festival beckons 23-27 October – although I will almost certainly still be in Sofia then…..