OSLO: After almost 40 years of negotiations Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced today that they have reached a breakthrough and a deal will be signed.
The deal is a compromise on how to share a long-disputed area in the Barents Sea.
- Today agreement has been reached between the Norwegian and the Russian negotiating delegations on the bilateral maritime delimitation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said at the joint press conference with Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev in Oslo on Tuesday .
Very few observers believed a deal would be reached during the Russian President’s state visit to Oslo. One of the few that believed a deal would be signed in Oslo was head of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat Rune Rafaelsen.
Two weeks ago, BarentsObserver quoted Rafaelsen saying: - Why would Medvedev spend two days in Norway if there was nothing new to announce? Also, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg met the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin two weeks ago in Helsinki in talks that hadn’t been planned. Those are indications that we might have an agreement, Rafaelsen said.
- This is a historic day. We have reached a breakthrough in the most important outstanding issue between Norway and the Russian Federation, Stoltenberg continued.
The agreement was confirmed in a joint statement by the Foreign Ministers of Norway and the Russian Federation. The statement was signed by lunch time at Akershus Castle in Oslo, first by Jonas Gahr Støre and Sergey Lavrov. Later on Tuesday also by Prime Minister Stoltenberg and President Medvedev.
According to the joint statement, the two negotiating delegations have reached agreement on the maritime delimitation between Norway and the Russian Federation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, which has been the object of extensive negotiations over the last 40 years. The negotiations have now been completed, but some technical control work remains before the final treaty is ready for signature. After that it will be put before the two countries’ national assemblies.
- The agreement is the result of meticulous efforts on the basis of international law, and is an expression of the great importance attached to international law by Norway and the Russian Federation as coastal states. The negotiated solution appears to be well balanced and will benefit both our countries, said Prime Minister Stoltenberg.
The recommended solution involves a maritime delimitation line that divides the overall disputed area of about 175 000 square kilometres in two parts of approximately the same size. In addition to a maritime delimitation line, the two delegations recommend the adoption of treaty provisions that would maintain and enhance cooperation with regard to fisheries and management of hydrocarbon resources. In the field of hydrocarbon cooperation, the two delegations recommend the adoption of detailed rules and procedures ensuring efficient and responsible management of their hydrocarbon resources in cases where any single oil or gas deposits should extend across the delimitation line.
- Agreement on the maritime delimitation line opens up new prospects for cooperation in the north on resources, trade and industry, employment opportunities and people-to-people cooperation across our common border. This is a historic day, especially for our populations in the north. I want to extend my thanks to our two Foreign Ministers and the negotiators for their extensive efforts, which have now proved successful, the Norwegian Prime Minister added.