Norway and Russia announce historic maritime boundary agreement
(27 April 2010)
During a meeting in Oslo on 27 April 2010 Russia's president Dmitri Medvedev and Norway's prime minister Jens Stolenberg released a joint statement announcing that the two states have reached preliminary agreement on delimitation of their maritime boundary in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean. The southernmost section of the boundary through Varangerfjord was defined in agreements in 1957 and 2007, but agreement on the alignment of the boundary farther seaward remained elusive despite decades of negotiations.
Details of the precise course of the newly agreed boundary have not been made public and may be subject to further technical negotiations. However, the statement indicated that the boundary will divide the disputed area in two parts of approximately the same size, and a map depicting the proposed line was published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
The establishment of the boundary will presumably result in the termination of the fishing regime in the "Grey Zone" in the Barents Sea (see www.dur.ac.uk/resources/ibru/arctic.pdf for further information on the zone). However, the statement noted that the conclusion of a treaty would not adversely affect the fishing opportunities of either state, and emphasised the importance of continuing cooperative measures on fisheries and hydrocarbon management. Although the estimated hydrocarbon resources in the Barents Sea are vast, to date the two states have refrained from any exploration activity pending delimitation of the maritime boundary.
The statement indicated that the two governments intend to conclude a treaty on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean "at the earliest possible date".
Text of the Joint Statement on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean