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Denmark’s delimitation claim regarding Arctic no sign of tension

November 29, 2013, 0:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, November 28, 22:10 /ITAR-TASS/. The is no reason to regard differences among Arctic states over the ownership of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean as the manifestation of international tension and the source of future conflicts, Igor Ivanov, the head of the Russian International Affairs Council, told a news conference on Thursday, commenting on Denmark’s making the claim the other day for the broadening of the zone recognized as part of its continental shelf.

“There is no contradiction between the fact that unresolved issues continue to exist and the easing of tension,” Ivanov said. “It is not unusual to use the existing treaties and agreement to resolve disputed questions. This precisely bespeaks of stability in the region,” he said.

“Therefore, we note the importance of consolidating norms of international law to settle problems which may arise. It is an important aspect of the situation in the Arctic region that all countries recognize this approach based on international law,” Ivanov added.

Aleksandr Vylegzhanin, head of the chair of international law in Moscow State Institute of international Relations (MGIMO), said that persisting contradictions were linked with the application of different principles of delimitation in the Arctic Ocean by different nations - the principle of equidistance, sectoral principle and delimitation by the borders of the continental shelf. There is, indeed, certain competition among the states in defining the principles of international law for the Arctic Ocean floor delimitation,” he said, noting that applications, including by Denmark, are made within the framework of international law and on the basis of obligations assumed by the states, which ensures the settlement of such disputes along the political and diplomatic lines.

“I believe Russia, in any case, now has positions so good that it is unimportant what delimitation principle is applied. Delimitation on the basis of the equidistance principle is of extreme disadvantage to the United States, but not to Russia,” the expert holds.

Andrei Zagorsky, head of the department for disarmament and conflict settlement of the Centre for International Security at Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, addressed the essence of the dispute. “The Danish application refers to delimitation of deep-water zones of the Ocean. Natural resources in those areas are assessed as being minimal, although some say that there may be diamonds there. But I would like to see who would mine diamonds on the North Pole at the depth of one kilometre,” he remarked.

Zagorsky added that, in any case, Denmark’s application, just as that of any other country, means only staking a claim at a certain part of the ocean floor. He said Denmark itself is engaged in the exploration that would make it possible to confirm or deny its statements about the ownership of the Lomonosov Ridge. Russia and Canada are also engaged in such studies. Some 15-20 years may pass before the commission on the Convention on the Law of the Sea will start discussing the application,” Zagorsky said.

“Even if the Lomonosov Ridge is recognized as the extension of the coastal shelf of the countries concerned, they will be obliged to resolve this contradiction in the framework of the existing norms of international law,” Zagorsky said.

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