Parliament Palace might become ‘Europe’s largest mall’ – Nine O’clock

Parliament Palace might become ‘Europe’s largest mall’
Nine O’Clock, January 15, 2010

Democrat Liberal Deputy Silviu Prigoana said yesterday he would file a draft law suggesting the relocation of the assembly from the Palace of Parliament to a building destined to host the National Library.

“That building was started during Ceausescu’s rule, in order to host the library, but it was left in ruins for 20 years and now the Culture Ministry has begun a project there, building a so-called cultural mall and investing EUR 64 M,” Prigoana said. He added that after Parliament is reshaped so as to have only one chamber and 300 lawmakers at most, the current headquarters will no longer be required. The Palace of Parliament, erected during communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule, is one of the world’s largest buildings and currently hosts several institutions, including Parliament, the Constitutional Court, the Legislative Council and others.

Prigoana’s comments came as Social Democrat National Council president and ex prime minister Adrian Nastase wrote on his blog that the current leadership wants to turn the Palace of Parliament into the largest mall in Europe. When asked to comment, Prigoana said authorities are having various talks with entertainment companies so as to organize more tourism activities in the building.

“We will have the largest exhibitions and fairs on the planet and varied activities, including CD launches. The guys are probably thinking of moving international festivals to Bucharest and this means tourism, transport, accommodation, more money to the budget. This is my role – bringing money to the budget, not asking for money,” said Prigoana. He added that the relocation could be made in three years.

Chamber of Deputies Speaker Roberta Anastase neither accepted nor rejected the idea, saying that she was open to any talks as long as they are grounded in reality.

“I think our priorities are constitutional reform and when we have a Constitution as Romanians want it to be, with a one-chamber parliament and 300 lawmakers at most, we will then talk about relocating Parliament,” Anastase, who is also a PDL member, said.

When learning that the Palace of Parliament might become a mall if the assembly is relocated, Liberal Senator Teodor Melescanu dismissed the idea, saying that “there are many possibilities, including that of sending people to space,” but the problem is that not all possibilities are accessible. PSD Senator Miron Mitrea also labelled the idea of turning the building into a mall as “utopia.” Underlining that Parliament is currently hosted in a symbolic building, Mitrea said the idea of turning into a mall sounded like a joke.

Tourism and Development Minister Elena Udrea did not make too many comments on Prigoana’s proposal, saying only that indeed, a lot of money is spent for the Palace of Parliament’s maintenance. “I’ve heard the proposition, but it’s not my decision, I know this building eats a lot of resources, but I don’t know if there is an alternative to move lawmakers,” Udrea said. However, she added that she was open to such a project, if an appropriate building to host lawmakers is found.

Such a project is believed to bring the state budget about EUR 100 M every year, according to an analysis run by The surface of the Palace of Parliament is four times bigger than that of AFI Palace Cotroceni, which is currently the fourth largest mall in south-eastern Europe, which means the incomes would also be more than three times higher, the website said.

by Dana Florin