After a lawsuit that lasted nearly ten years, the Ploieşti Court of Appeals pronounced on Thursday its final decision in the border dispute between the Szekler city of Gyergyószentmiklós (Gheorgheni) and the municipality of Bicaz Chei. In a judgment that cannot be appealed, the court granted the territorial and administrative rights of the famously scenic Békás Gorge to the latter city.
Gyergyószentmiklós, the third biggest city of Hargita County in Transylvania’s Szeklerland, is bordered to the north and northeast by Neamţ County’s Bicaz Chei, part of the historical Romanian region of Moldova.
The subject of the territorial dispute is mainly the Békás Gorge, which stretches along the border of the two counties and which was traditionally considered to be a part of Szeklerland. The territory belonging to the gorge and the 700 hectares of land surrounding it came into question in 1998. Since a 1996 law demanded that all localities must register their boundaries in a cadastral survey, in 1998 the cadastral offices of Hargita and Neamţ drew up a record, noting that the gorge and its area belonged to Cheile Bicazului. In a rather unclear move, the mayor of Gyergyószentmiklós at that time signed this record. Over the past decade, the administrations of Gyergyószentmiklós and Hargita County have put considerable effort into pursuing the annulment of this record and rectifying the county borders.
In 2012, a commission determined that the disputing parties were not willing to renounce their stance. As the court of first instance, Prahova County Court then decided in favor of Hargita County last year, and the cadastral record drawn in 1998 was invalidated. But this sentence was changed this past Thursday by the Ploieşti Court, which accepted the appeal of Cheile Bicazului and the County of Neamţ, deciding that the litigation had had no grounds.
President of the Hargita County Council Csaba Borboly told Hungarian News Agency MTI that the Ploieşti Court had excluded Hargita County and the Hargita prefect from the proceedings of the lawsuit, while Neamţ was a part of it. “It was primarily lawyers for Hargita who worked on proving this case. I suspect, the county was excluded so that our evidence would not be taken into consideration,” Borboly said. He also pointed out that there are several laws stipulating that territorial disputes of border localities must be handled with the participation of the county they belong to. The Hargita County administration will thus attempt to seek exceptional judicial remedy as soon as they receive the motivation behind the court sentence.
Title image: The Békás Gorge has exceptional tourism potential, thus which county gets to collect the taxes from tourist and commercial activities is important. Photo: Dezső Mátyás