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Romania, Ukraine to settle continental platform dispute in International Court of Justice

de Radu Rizea
Luni, 28 iulie 2008, 15:11 English | Regional Europe

Romania and Ukraine are disputing a minor piece of land worth 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 10 million tons of oil. The controversy will be settled in the International Court of Justice. Romania will plead its case at the beginning of September, within the last phase of the verbal argumentation. Romania and Ukraine have to set straight the property rights over the Serpents' Island (Insula Serpilor), a small (170,000 square meters / 42 acres) but resourceful island, offered as a gift to the USSR authorities by the Romanian Communist regime.

Ukraine president Yushchenko recently pleaded for a mutual understanding for the island, a fact considered by Romanian analysts as a sign that Ukraine knows it will probably lose the trial. The lawsuit refers in fact not only to the island, but also to its legal border, an area covering some 12,000 square kilometers, with oil an gas exploitation opportunities.

The continental platform to be shared has been subject for negotiations since 1998, a schedule being approved by both sides in 2004. According to the mutual agreement, namely to the Compromising Clause, Romania may appeal to the International Court of Justice in case the matter is not solved within two years.

Ukraine has allegedly forced the creation of a village on the rock, with no more than 15 permanent residents, out of a population of 50, in order to have the first say in the attribution of the land.

On the other hand, Romania claims that the island is no more than a rock, unable to support the human inhabiting or an economic activity, therefore has the right to at most 12 sea miles from its shore and no rights to any continental platform or exclusive economic area.

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