Everyday tales and stories from the border regions of Europe and beyond, with the aim of explaining why we border-crossers are as obsessed as we are about this subject, why it is important to all of us, and why the co-operation community needs a little bit more visibility than it normally gets.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Progress in the Black Sea

Last week, the International Court of Justice fixed the Romania-Ukraine maritime border in the Black Sea. The dispute had festered for almost 20 years over a rocky outcrop called "Serpent Island" which, depending on whether it was designated an island or a "cliff" would impact upon where the maritime boundary would lie. It appears that the Court has leaned towards the Romanian position, although not all the way. The issue of the actual sovereignty of the island was not presented to the Court, although there are still some in Romania who want the island back from Ukraine, on the basis that it was appropriated by the Soviet Union in 1948. However, both governments seem willing to accept the ICJ decision and to consider the situation finalised.

This is good news for on-going Romania-Ukraine cross-border co-operation, but there are still issues to be addressed. The most serious would appear to be the spat about the Danube Delta and which of the channels through the delta can be used for shipping. This is often presented as an environmental argument, but there are evidently economic undertones - i.e. who gets paid for allowing ships to go through the delta. In any event, progress is required here if future co-operation on Danube issues is not to be impeded.

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