Thursday, November 16, 2006

I. H. Tribune: Hungary says it's "full of concerns" about gold mine project in Romania

Hungary says it's "full of concerns" about gold mine project in Romania
The Associated Press
Published: November 16, 2006

BUDAPEST, Hungary: Hungary is still worried that a planned gold mine in neighboring Romania could lead to the repeat of an environmental disaster caused by a cyanide leak at a similar mine in 2000, the Hungarian prime minister said Thursday.

The proposed mine at Rosia Montana, 190 kilometers (120 miles) east of the border with Hungary, would use cyanide to extract gold from ore, and Hungary fears another leak such as the one in 2000 that killed much of the aquatic life in the Tisza River, which also runs through Hungary and is a tributary of the Danube River.
"We are full of concerns because we have questions about a series of issues," Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said after a joint Cabinet meeting between the Hungarian and Romanian governments.
"Are we adequately and reassuringly informed about every important circumstance needed for (the mine's) permit? Hungary's answer is no, not yet."

Gyurcsany, however, added that Romania's "readiness to cooperate" was cause for "measured optimism" about being able to find a solution.
Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said the project would only be realized if "all international and European norms about environmental protection are respected."
Tariceanu said several impact studies were yet to be completed, so it was too early to take a position on the mine — but that his government was working "with total transparency" on allaying fears about the gold mine.

The two Cabinets also discussed the issue of autonomy for Szeklers, one of the main groups among the 1.4 million ethnic Hungarians in Romania. Much of western Romania, including the region of Transylvania, was part of Hungary until 1920.
While both prime ministers stressed the importance of overcoming the historical disputes between the two countries — especially now that Romania will also become a member of the European Union in January — there were some differences in their views on autonomy.
Tariceanu said his government supported the concept of autonomy, but within the frame of decentralizing the government's decision-making process.
"We are not planning to introduce local autonomy based on ethnicity in any region of the country," Tariceanu said, adding that the Hungarian minority had special legal status in Romania, including autonomy in cultural and educational issues.
He also said that a referendum in Romania about autonomy for ethnic Hungarians would be anti-constitutional.

Ministers of the two governments signed a series of agreements at the end of the Cabinet meeting, including the coordination of economic development plans — particularly in regions near their common border — plans to increase rail and road links and the construction of a natural gas pipeline between the Hungarian city of Szeged and Arad in Romania.
The two Cabinets held their first joint session in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, in October 2005.


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