UN court defines border in Romania-Ukraine row

The United Nations’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, on Tuesday defined the Black Sea border between Romania and Ukraine, settling a decades-old dispute over an area said to contain oil.

The court essentially marked the border halfway between the coasts of the two countries.

Romania took the matter to the UN court in 2004 after six bilateral negotiations collapsed over the boundary of the Black Sea’s continent shelf—a source of economic rivalry for decades.

The court in September examined the dispute between the two countries, notably over the small Serpents’ Island, where natural gas and oil deposits are thought to be concentrated.

Kiev has plans to create an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in an area around the uninhabited 17ha islet, whose ownership has shifted over the years.

Located some 20 nautical miles off the Danube delta, Serpents’ Island was owned by Romania until 1948 when it was ceded to the then Soviet Union.

After the dissolution of the USSR, which used it as a military base, Serpents’ Island formally became part of the territory of newly independent Ukraine.

Romanian experts have estimated the disputed area in the north-western part of the Black Sea may contain 100 billion cubic metres of gas.

And Romania alleges the Serpents’ Island is a “rock” unable to sustain human habitation or an economic life of its own, thereby failing to qualify for EEZ status. Ukraine disputes this.—AFP

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