Rosia Montana: Offener Brief an den rumänischen Premier Nastase

Dies ist die englische Version eines Offenen Briefes an Premier Adrian Nastase, den der Verein Alburnus Maior am 22. Januar d.J. nach Bukarest schickte.

Alburnus Maior
Str. Berk 361, Rosia Montana, Judetul Alba, Romania
Tel/ Fax: +40 (0) 258 859 328 email:,

Nr. reg: 5/22.01.2003
Adrian Nastase
Prime Minister of Romania
Palatul Parlamentului
Str. 13. Septembrie No.1

Your Excellency,

Request for an official investigation into the archaeological discharge certificate for the Cirnic Massif

In September 2003, Alburnus Maior wrote to Razvan Theodorescu, your Minister for Culture and the Cults, informing him about the illegal exploitation of the Cirnic massif’s western perimeter located in Rosia Montana. As part of the ministry’s ‘Alburnus Maior’ archaeological program a French archaeological team from Toulouse University has been researching this massif for the past three years. Their detailed annual reports (not summaries) point to the uniqueness of the Roman and pre-Roman mine galleries unearthed in Cirnic-Napoleon. According to evidence attached to our letter, Cirnic-Naopleon has been exploited without an archaeological discharge certificate and apparently even without an environmental license. Our letter to Razvan Theodorescu was, amongst others, copied to you.

As a consequence of our letter, official delegations of eminent archaeological and patrimonial organizations such as ICOMOS, the Pro Patrimonio Trust, the Mihai Eminescu Trust and the Transylvania Trust visited Rosia Montana, subsequently sending official letters asking for the in situ protection of the Cirnic massif as a whole . In the case of ICOMOS, UNESCO’s archaeological consultant, it is worth noticing that not only did they pass a strong resolution against the ongoing destruction of Alburnus Maior but made a particular observation about the fact that relevant Romanian cultural authorities were unwilling to discuss the Rosia Montana matter. To date the Ministry of Culture and the Cults has not replied to any official requests asking for the in situ protection of Cirnic.

Your Ministry for Culture and the Cults in January 2004 signed for the archaeological discharge of the invaluable site researched and documented by the French archaeological team.

The procedure leading to Cirnic’s discharge is in itself extraordinary; to say the least. The National Commission for Archaeology (NCA) met on 19.December 2003 to discuss and decide upon issues pertaining the Ministry for Culture’s various archaeological programs; including ‘Alburnus Maior’. It was during this conference that a positive avis for the archaeological discharge of Cirnic was given. Since 2000 ‘Alburnus Maior’ has been the ministry’s largest archaeological program; both in terms of funds and size. It is financed through Gabriel Resources, a Canadian mining junior wishing to develop Europe’s largest open cast gold/silver project in Rosia Montana. For the logistical implementation of the ‘Alburnus Maior’ program, Gabriel Resources in summer 2003 contracted ‘Arheoterra Consult’; a company specially created for this purpose, managed by Corina Bors.

Corina Bors’ presence during the NCA’s meeting on 19. December 2003 was not without a purpose or impact it seems; and severly questions the scientific objectivity on which decisions pertaining the ‘Alburnus Maior’ program were taken. The positive avis itself was based on a verbal and power point presentation made by Paul Damian, ‘Alburnus Maior’s coordinator. All the while, the conference table was piled with technical reports of the diggings, who no one from NCA could possibly have consulted, read and fully comprehend during the short time of the meeting. In short, how can the NCA vote on an issue, which they physically were unable to consult? This is well worth considering given that in 2002 the NCA voted for the discharge of an area covering 700ha; including Cirnic’s surface; just one day after Paul Damian submitted the detailed reports for consultation.

Regarding the discharge of Cirnic, which houses kilometers of unique pre-Roman, Roman and medieval galleries, the archaeological certificate was granted with an almost punishable easiness; this although the French’s team report, signed by Beatrice Cauuet didn’t include a prerequisite recommendation for the discharge. What is the purpose of hiring teams of archaeologists and to subsequently take decisions not considering scientific findings or recommendations? This would imply that regarding the ‘Alburnus Maior’ program, the NCA took decisions beyond ‘archaeology’.

Given the national and international attention that the archaeological treasures enclosed in Cirnic have given rise to; a contemptible mitigation procedure was readily agreed upon. The NCA approved the in situ protection of a small corner in the eastern part of the massif. The more critical archaeological community is fully aware what valuable galleries the southern and western part of the Cirnic massif contains; which is why they asked for the in situ preservation of Cirnic as a whole. From an archaeological and conservation point of view the NCA’s decision makes no sense; it does however, makes sense in light of the proposed mining project for Rosia Montana. Given this and in light of the various official requests asking for the in situ protection of Cirnic as a whole, it would be interesting to know who proposed the in situ protection for an archaeological nonsense.

Quoting Law No 544/2001 the Alburnus Maior Association in early January 2004 officially requested the recently granted discharge certificates together with all scientific data justifying them. For the first time ever Alburnus Maior received a reply and the relevant discharge certificate. However, the Ministry for Culture informed in its letter that it was unable to submit all scientific documentation; quoting intellectual property rights. Under Law No. 544/2001 the ministry is not empowered to quote intellectual property rights; instead it has to communicate whether the information requested is classified or accessible to the public. The ‘Alburnus Maior’ archaeological program is a public research program and all material forming part of it must be made accessible to the public; in particular the kind of documentation legalizing administrative acts. This is ever more important when comparing Beatrice Cauuet’s full 2002 report with its’ short 2002 summary published on the ‘Alburnus Maior’ archaeological program’s website nearly one year after the relevant administrative act was passed. Whilst the full report details the unique archaeological importance of Cirnic; the short version turns Cirnic approximatively into an archaeologically sterile piece of rock.

The Ministry for Culture’s closed and opaque procedures have given rise to dangerous irregularities and unprofessional acts. All the above is well worth considering also in light of what precedent this might set for the conservation of Romania’s cultural heritage as a whole. It is interesting to note that a recent change of legislation (Law No. 462/2003; dated 10.11.2003) gives unlimited power to the Ministry of Culture to issue archaeological discharge certificates.

Because we are concerned about the fate of the Cirnic massif, we feel bound duty to inform you about the state of your Ministry for Culture’s professional quality and the serious consequences this attitude has given rise to. We have no choice but to ask you to launch an official investigation, perhaps also via the Romanian Academy, into the mechanisms and relationships pertaining the above mentioned case study. We rest assured that justice will prevail and that all appropriate measures (incl. disciplinary) will be taken.

Yours sincerely,

Eugen David
Alburnus Maior

cc. Ion Iliescu, Razvan Theodorescu, Ionel Blanculescu, Eugen Simion, Alexandru Mironov, Mounir Bouchenaki, Michel Rocard, Michael Petzet, Zsolt Visy, Geza Alfoeldy, Guy de Deregnaucourt, Serban Cantacuzino, Jessica Douglas-Home.

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