Reply to Nostra Silva on illegal logging in Romania

19. November 2020

On 11th November 2020, more than 80 Members of the European Parliament made a strong appeal to the European Commission to take immediate action to stop illegal logging in Romania. Illegal logging is deforesting vast areas in Romania and the environmental degradation in Europe’s last primary forests has reached unimaginable proportions in recent years.

As mentioned in the letter attacks on those advocating for the preservation of the last virgin forests in Europe are happening on an everyday level. Slander campaigns, defamation and threats against civil society and organisations helping to protect the environment are sadly a very common occurrence in Romania. One of the organisations highly involved in those slanderous attacks is Nostra Silva (an organisation of forest- and landowners in Romania).

As a reaction to the appeal to the European Commission, not only I but also all co-signing MEPs received a letter from Nostra Silva with vast accusations, a collection of misleading interpretations and twisted facts. Moreover, this letter contains slanderous personal attacks and unsubstantiated accusations against my own person. As a politician and a Member of the European Parliament, I am strongly committed to transparency and fact-based decision-making. My motivation to draft that letter und to invite my fellow MEPs to co-sign was and is the deep concern for the irreplaceable primary forests, which are under special protection for very good reasons. There is nothing anti-Romanian about this, on the contrary – I feel that as a committed GREEN and EUROPEAN it is my duty to stand and fight with those facing wrongdoings and support the protection of the environment wherever I can, not just in Romania.

For transparency reasons I decided to publish the ongoing correspondence between myself and Nostra Silva:

Dear Mr Todoran,

Dear Mr Platon,

thank you for your correspondence of 16 November 2020, in which you quote parts of the letter that I and a number of my fellow MEPs sent to the European Commission on the illegal logging activities taking place in Natura 2000 protected areas in Romania. Unfortunately you supplemented the quotes with your own deliberate misinterpretations, insinuations and false assumptions.

The latter, means your unsubstantiated allegations and accusations, are such a crude and clumsy attempt to call into question the seriousness and professionalism of the MEPs involved and of the European Parliament as a whole that I will certainly not go into the details. Such bullying and unsubstantiated pushing into a defensive position may succeed and discourage people elsewhere, but here at European level it will not have the effect you hoped for.

On the contrary. We still stick to the content of the letter. We have nothing to rethink and nothing to take back. And we will continue to work with undiminished commitment to protect Romania’s unique European natural heritage and to stop illegal logging in protected areas – by the way not only in Romania but wherever it takes place. Contrary to what you say, this is our only interest and it is clearly within our competence as Members of the European Parliament. And we do not simply and blindly take sides for one organisation, as you also claim, but we stand by the side of all those on the ground who fight for this cause in a legal and transparent way, with integrity verified by auditing and who, last but not least, protect European values and interests. Consequently we also defend them when unjustified and extremely unfair attacks are made.

Most of what you publicly disseminate works with twisted facts, is defamatory and very manipulative. You also don’t seem to care much about diversity of opinion, freedom of expression and basic democratic principles such as respect for dissenting political opinions. This is definitely not the way I and the colleagues who signed the appeal work and so I see no foundation for further exchange with you.

As a final point: In order to ensure the same level of transparency and information on your side and on the side of those who you so vehemently attack, I would appreciate your answers to the following questions:

  • Could you inform me whether your letter represents the position of the entire board of directors and in particular the position of the church representatives in your board?
  • Could you provide information on how your organisation is funded and what your remuneration is sourced from? Can you provide your last annual financial report?  
  • What exactly does your organisation do to contribute to the protection and preservation of the forests? In what ways does your organisation support communities in need, in those areas where your organisation is active?

Yours sincerely,

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel MdEP

Original Letter from NOSTRA SILVA:

Dear Mrs. Viola von Cramon-Taubadel,

As a member of the European Parliament, you called on the European Commission for “urgent actions” to save the Romanian forests.

In this letter,  you accuse Romania of an “unimaginable” disaster in the forests, estimating a volume of 80 million cubic meters illegally exploited wood during the last years, resulting massive damage for the biodiversity.

The letter published on the 11th of November 2020 was signed by 83 members of the European Parliament; four Romanian members of the European Parliament (MEP) also supported the letter (Vlad Botoş, Nicolae Ştefănuţă, and Ramona Strugariu – USR – PLUS and Victor Negrescu – PSD).

The signing MEP invoke a “massive violation” of the legal provisions related to the conservation of Natura 2000 and UNESCO heritage areas, generated by “ruthless greed and large-scale corruption”. The letter also shows that “thousands of hectares were destroyed” after the opening of the infringement procedure for Romania, on the 12th of February 2020.

The real aim of the letter, in our opinion, appears on its second page, in a paragraph where we consider that you attract the other 82 signing members of the European Parliament to clean the image of Conservation Carpathia.

Thus, the signing MEP express “deep concern over defamation and slander campaigns against civic actors and organisations launched by institutions like Nostra Silva (a controversial federation of landowners) and distributed via Romanian television”. Foundation Conservation Carpathia appears as an example of victim, because their project in Făgăraş Mountains “came under heavy attack”.

Your letter solicits the European Commission to “to stand by the side of those who are fighting” for the salvation of the Romanian forests. Between the lines, we can read that the Foundation Conservation Carpathia is the spearhead of this fight…

Still, we ask why 82 MEP supported this appeal?  

Should we understand that all MEP watch the TV shows of the Romanian televisions? Or have they seen and understood this TV show on Antena 3? Should we assume that they have read the articles signed by Nostra Silva and have interpreted them as slander and defamation for the billionaires buying Făgăraş Mountains? Do they have first-hand information on the “massive violations” and the disaster in Romania?

Such interest accompanied by direct information on the subject would have been welcomed, but the answer to our questions is in fact much simpler and is observable in the following photo:

In the middle, the German member of the European Parliament Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, flanked by Barbara Promberger Furpass and Christoph Franz Johannes Promberger, the managers of Foundation Conservation Carpathia.

We consider that 82 MEP does not directly know the case Conservation Carpathia and they gave credit to their colleague, you, Viola von Cramon, who exclusively presented to them the information from her partners, the Prombergers, who were her companions for a “summer tour” in Romania, generating this podcast.

We legitimately ask if MEP Viola von Cramon benefited by the same helicopter flights paid by Conservation Carpathia as the former Environment Minister, Cristina Paşca Palmer.

This is how, once again, due to the lobby of the Promberger family and of the billionaires from Conservation Carpathia, Romania is once again targeted in a disinformation campaign to the European Commission.

The disinformation targeted especially Nostra Silva – The Federation of Forests and Grassland Owners in Romania.

We openly address a series of questions to the MEP signing the appeal to the European Commission:

  • Which legal system considers the publicising of a legal decision, similar to the one obliging the Foundation Conservation Carpathia and Christoph Franz Johannes Promberger to pay 50,000 lei for non-material damage to Nostra Silva and to the lawyer Bogdan Ioan Tudor Todoran, a “defamation and slander campaign” against the billionaires aiming to buy Făgăraş Mountains?
  • In which European state represented in the European parliament is a legally won process a “defamation and slander campaign”; the letter considers the process legally won by  Nostra Silva and the lawyer Bogdan Ioan Tudor Todoran, who brought legal evidence in front of the judges for the corruption, influence peddling, and other illegalities practiced by the billionaires from Conservation Carpathia in their plan of owning Făgăraş Mountains?
  • Are the two existing definitive decisions of Câmpulung Court (here and here), establishing that the billionaires from Conservation Carpathia illegally bought property rights in Obştea Moşnenilor Rucăreni, part of a “defamation and slander campaign”?
  • Is the Romanian justice part in a conspiration against the Foundation Conservation Carpathia and the billionaires financing the land buying in Romania?

Legitimately, we conclude that the appeal of the members of the European Parliament is an attack to the private and public property in Romania, since it mentions that the legal right is exercised with “ruthless greed” and using “large-scale corruption”.

We also address you, as  initiator of the letter presented to the European Commission, the following questions:

  1. Which elements in Nostra Silva’s activity are you aware of in order to name The Federation of Forests and Grassland Owners in Romania “a controversial federation of landowners”?
  • Are you aware of the illegalities committed in Romania by the billionaires in Foundation Conservation Carpathia (illicitly buying property rights in Obștea moșnenilor, the slander of Nostra Silva, corruption, and influence peddling – all legally proved)? Are you aware of this illegal type of activity and are you willing to support it?

Lawyer Bogdan Ioan Tudor- Todoran

President of Nostra Silva

Horia Platon

Director Nostra Silva 16.11.2020