The UNESCO World Patrimony Committee has accepted on Tuesday the bid filed by Rosia Montana site from Romania to be classified as a UNESCO protected sites. The decision was made with no objections and no amendments.
The Roșia Montană mining cultural landscape has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, “thus recognizing both the vulnerability of the site and the need for urgent protection measures”.
The decision was taken on Tuesday, by consensus, by the World Heritage Committee in its 44th extended session in Fouzhou, China, which takes place online between July 16-31, 2021.
Committee Chairman Tian Xuejun, who announced the decision, has argued that this site in the Western Carpathians is home to “an exceptional ensemble” of Roman galleries dating back to the second century, “the most important and widely known.”
“The exceptional universal value of the Roșia Montană Mining Cultural Landscape – the most important, extensive and technically diverse underground mining complex of Roman antiquity, together with the mining areas, residential areas, sacred areas, necropolises – was thus , recognized on the basis of criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv) defined by the World Heritage Convention ”, announces the National Heritage Institute.
“At the same time, the site was put on the List of World Heritage in Danger, thus recognizing both the site’s vulnerability and the need for urgent protection measures. In this regard, international cooperation is encouraged and it is recommended to invite to Roșia Montană a technical reactive monitoring mission to establish the optimal state of conservation and a program of measures to ensure the exit of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger,” the Institute adds.
The Roșia Montană file, prepared by the former Minister of Culture, Corina Șuteu, was submitted to UNESCO on January 4, 2017, on the last day of the government led by Dacian Cioloș.
The World Heritage List was opened for Romania with the inscription of the Danube Delta (1991) as a natural site and was continued with a series of cultural sites: villages with fortified churches in Transylvania (1993), Churches in Moldova (1993, 2010), Hurezi Monastery (1993), Dacian Fortresses from Orăştiei Mountains (1999), Sighişoara Historical Center (1999), Wooden Churches from Maramureş (1999). Another natural site inscribed on the UNESCO list – Secular and virgin beech forests in the Carpathians and other regions of Europe.
The List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity also includes the Căluş Ritual, Doina, Horezu pottery processing techniques, the men’s fog carol, the Virgin’s Game, Mărţişorul, traditional techniques for making bark in Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
The history of Rosia Montana in brief
In September 2016, in Paris, the Roşia Montană site was included on the UNESCO indicative list, a first step towards the much narrower UNESCO Heritage list.
Two years later, the World Heritage Committee decided to postpone the inscription of Roşia Montana on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, at the request of the Dăncilă Government, which invoked the ongoing international arbitration.
At the beginning of last year, the Minister of Culture, Bogdan Gheorghiu, announced that the Executive has decided to resume the procedure of including the Roşia Montană area in the UNESCO patrimony, a notification in this respect being sent on January 31, 2020.
The seed of discord was planted in the 1990s, when the Canadian company Gabriel Resources set up in the commune in order to extract 300 tons of gold and 1,600 silver, destroying four massive mountains, including most of the Roman remains.
More precisely, Gabriel Resources obtained in 1999 an exploration license for the Roşia Montană gold mine project, in which the Canadian company holds an 80.69% stake and the state-owned mining company Minvest Deva holds 19.31%.
The project is said to be the largest gold mine in Europe, and Gabriel Resources claims to have injected up to $ 24 billion into Romania’s economy.
The Canadian company announced on June 30, 2017, that it will sue Romania in a World Bank tribunal for allegedly losing $ 4.4 billion, as the Bucharest government decided not to approve the gold mine exploitation following wide street protests.
Two years later, in February, the World Bank’s International Arbitration Tribunal – ICSID (International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes – no.) partially upheld the arguments of Romanian locals who opposed to the Roşia Montană gold mining project, following a petition filed in October 2018 by several environmental organizations.
President Iohannis hails decision
“I hail the inclusion of Rosia Montana cultural mining landscape in the humanity patrimony! Through combined efforts of the authorities and specialists, Rosia Montana must become a model of capitalizing patrimony through the sustainable development of the area!,” the Romanian head of state posted on Facebook.