Romania Wants New Talks With Russia on Unreturned Gold

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Sunday on TV that Romania wants to resume negotiations on the treasure it sent to Moscow for safekeeping during World War I in 1916 and which was never returned.

The hoard of almost 94 tonnes of gold coins, jewels and art objects has been a  source of friction for a decade.

"We are still interested in progress in the Joint Commission dealing with Romania's treasury, which was deposited in Moscow during World War I. We have not abandoned this issue," Aurescu said.

He added that another commission meeting was postponed due to the pandemic. "The context is such that it is difficult to organise such meetings, but it is a topic that we continue to follow closely," Aurescu said.

Under pressure from the Central Powers, which had occupied most of Romania, on December 2, 1916, the National Bank decided to relocate Romania's treasury to Moscow, to ensure its preservation.

Between December 12-14, 1916, some 1,738 boxes were loaded onto 17 railway wagons in unoccupied Iasi, in which the Romanian gold was stored in bars and various coins.

According to official documents, its total value was 314,580,456 lei at that time. The load is now worth about $5 billion. The train left with wagons carrying archive documents and other papers.

After the Russian Revolution in October 1917, the communist Bolsheviks took power and Russia never returned the treasure, except partly in 1935, when the then Soviet Union returned 1,443 boxes with broken seals, filled with old archives, documents and papers, rare books and religious objects, but no gold.

A Joint Intergovernmental Commission formed in 2004 by Romania and Russia is currently the only bilateral forum agreed by Bucharest and Moscow to...

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