As usual, during the day I had the sound off but was keeping my ever vigilant eye attuned to the the various TV news channels when I espied this:
Greenpeace activists stormed Romania’s environment ministry on Tuesday, chaining themselves to radiators in the minister’s office in an attempt to stop approval for Europe’s biggest open-cast gold mine in a small Carpathian town.
This story (and Romanian version here) is absolutely critical to understand for a number of reasons.
1) Greenpeace is the master of the “event”, in which they do something dramatic and it gets a lot of attention. I’ve been familiar with this and their training out of their headquarters since years and years ago. Today they were organized, prepared and moved quickly and immediately gained a ton of commercial media (and internet) attention.
2) Furthermore, not only did their 20 (or 25) activists show up in the minister’s office wearing identical outfits and bearing identical signs but their press office (i.e. Greenpeace’s) was incredibly coordinated. All of the media reports I saw in all the languages had virtually identical information – clearly this was from Greenpeace’s press release. In other words, Greenpeace (not the media) were writing the story.
3) There may have been one Romanian activist in today’s actions but by and large all of this was done by foreigners. I saw a couple of interviews on the spot and nobody speaking to the media could speak Romanian. If you want to get your message out to the Romanian media and you have a Romanian speaker on the site of the action, you’d think you’d let him/her talk to the camera.
4) The environmental minister is Laszlo Borbely, who is ethnically a Hungarian. It looks like the vast majority of Greenpeace’s involvement today was due to ethnic Hungarian participation. I notice that in both the Hungarian language and Romanian language pages against the Rosia Montana project, their target is the UDMR party.
Also if you look at both sites, you’ll see the Hungarian one says 1431 emailed petitions sent and only 393 emailed petitions sent in Romanian.
Furthermore, Laszlo Borbely doesn’t speak Romanian all that well and yet he continuously mentioned he was having a calm, friendly ongoing dialogue with the protesters. I don’t think that would happen if he wasn’t speaking his native tongue.
5) Interestingly enough and not exactly related, President Basescu held a long press conference (Rom) tonight in which, among other things, he brought up the Rosia Montana project:
Nu vreau aurul de la Roşia Montană, ci locurile de muncă de oriunde.
Clearly Greenpeace (and their supporters) were the “winners” in today’s media battle. I’m sure Basescu was going to mention Rosia Montana in his speech anyway but coming on the widespread news of Greenpeace’s actions, I bet a lot of people connected the two events in their minds.
I just wonder why it took a lot of Hungarian and foreign activists to do something about Rosia Montana. Everywhere I go I see signs and pamphlets and placards from regular old Romanians who are against this project. I’ve had dozens of Romanians tell me in person how much they are against this. I know dozens more who went to concerts to raise money to protest against it, etc.
But at the end of the day, it looks like it once again was up to someone else to step in and do more than just talk and click like on a Facebook link. If you yourself care about this Rosia Montana thing, why not click on the appropriate link and send off an automatic email petition? It’s the least you can do.