Verespatak UNESCO World Heritage Site application at risk, claim NGOs and OAR

Seventy-four NGOs and the Romanian Order of Architects (OAR) are calling on the government to push the process of adding the Verespatak/Rosia Montană site onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Historical Mining Site of Rosia Montană is due to be debated by the World Heritage Committee in July 2021, following a resumption of the procedure for its addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List at the beginning of 2020.

The leaders of 74 NGOs have addressed a letter to Minister of Culture Bogdan Gheorghiu and National Liberal Party leader Ludovic Orban, asking them to move forward with the procedure (via Transindex). The open letter was sent after a

worrying sign surfaced suggesting that the government is considering postponing or eventually withdrawing the Verespatak/Roșia Montană application submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

“We ask you to entrust the delegates representing Romania to unequivocally support the addition of Verespatak to the UNESCO World Heritage List,” the NGOs wrote, asking the government to adhere to pledges made to the international community, UNESCO and Verespatak locals.

The letter is signed by the Declic community, Mining Watch Romania, the Pro Patrimonio Foundation, the Romanian arm of Greenpeace, ActiveWatch, the Act for Tomorrow association, and others.

Romanian Order of Architects: The government is “on the verge of repeating previous mistakes”

“The Romanian Order of Architects, which has been proposing the inclusion of the site on the World Heritage List to the Minister of Culture since 2007 and which supports responsible progress and the capitalization of the exceptional cultural and natural heritage of Rosia Montană, calls on the Government not to repeat the mistakes of the Romanian State in 2018, when the procedure for the World Heritage List and the Endangered World Heritage List was halted in an unworthy and unjustified way,” OAR maintains in an open letter to the government.

The OAR letter calls the previous government’s actions “irresponsible” and expresses concern that the current government is “on the verge of repeating previous mistakes.”

It also draws attention to the fact that the site could be permanently taken off the list.

The World Heritage Committee’s recognition of the special cultural value of the Verespatak site will play an important role in the legal wrangle between Romanian and Gabriel Resources LTD and Gabriel Resources (Jersey) LTD. It will likely dismantle the mining company’s allegations and open new opportunities to save the site through international funding of conservation and restoration work, OAR adds.

Title image: The Verespatak/Roșia Montană site. Photo by: Petru Mortu/Europa Nostra

Author: István Fekete