Sunday

29th Mar 2020

Russia-Norway pact defuses Arctic tension

  • Russian fishing boats in a Norwegian Arctic harbour (Photo: Leigh Phillips)

After some 40 years of negotiations, Norway and Russia have reached agreement over their undersea borders in the high north.

The two sides announced they had reached an accord late on Tuesday (27 April) as the leaders of Norway and the Russian Federation signed a joint declaration bringing an end to the struggle over the extent of their Arctic territory.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"This is an historic day. We have reached a breakthrough in the most important outstanding issue between Norway and the Russian Federation," said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

The frontiers at the bottom of the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean have long been a source of contention between Moscow and Oslo.

In 2007, a Russian submarine famously planted a flag on the Arctic sea floor underneath the North Pole, while the Norwegian coast guard has regularly detained Russian fishing boats.

The flag stunt, mounted by State Duma deputy and polar explorer Artur Chilingarov, at the time seemed to herald a "race for the Arctic."

The EU for its part in 2008 published a security analysis highlighting the boundary disputes at the pole, arguing that the bloc should boost its civil and military capacities to respond to "serious security risks" resulting from catastrophic climate change.

"I believe this will open the way for many joint projects, especially in the area of energy," Russian President Dmitri Medvedev told reporters.

The agreement will see a maritime delimitation line that divides a disputed area of some 175,000 square kilometres of the Arctic shelf in two parts of roughly the same size. The document also provides for fisheries and oil and gas co-operation, with language on work together to manage marine life.

Crucially, there are a series of detailed rules and procedures governing how oil and gas deposits that cross the border should be apportioned.

Negotiations have completed, but some further technical work must still be done before a final treaty is signed, at which point, this will have to be approved by the two nations' parliaments.

"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 co-operation across our common border," said Mr Stoltenberg.

In Saudi Arabia, contacting the EU is a crime

Women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul is facing trial. One of the allegations is contacting the EU delegation. Despite pressure from Brussels, Saudi Arabia remains unimpressed.

EU declares Africa 'most important' global partner

The European Commission has a new strategy for Africa. The proposal, whose details have yet to be worked out, spans broad issues like climate, energy, digital transformation, jobs, peace, governance, and migration.

News in Brief

  1. UK health minister tests positive for coronavirus
  2. Orban: coronavirus exposes EU 'weaknesses'
  3. Court orders Netherlands to pay colonial victims
  4. Belgian cat 'infected by coronavirus'
  5. UK PM Johnson tests positive for coronavirus
  6. EU agrees Libya naval mission after Greek solution
  7. US to upgrade its nuclear bombs in Europe
  8. US surpasses China and Italy with 82,404 corona cases

Opinion

Trump's 'plan' for Israel will go against EU values

As someone who has been personally targeted by Benjamin Netanyahu's incitement against Arabs and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Druze, I still believe that peace is possible. But Donald Trump's 'plan' will be a gift to Netanyahu's campaign.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. EU doctors: bring refugees on Greek islands to safety
  2. Russia's top coronavirus 'fake news' stories
  3. WHO warning on lockdown mental health
  4. Virus: Frontex tells officers to keep guarding Greek borders
  5. EU heads struggle to find joint virus response
  6. Poland's sham presidential election in a pandemic
  7. Von der Leyen warns 'end selfishness' in virus crisis
  8. Chinese ambassador to EU: put trust before politics

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us