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Monday, July 22, 2024

Jens’ big day in Murmansk

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg could leave domestic political problems behind him on Wednesday, at least for a few triumphant hours, when he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev formally ended a 40-year dispute over territorial rights in the Barents Sea.

Spirits were high for the leaders of both countries involved, as they settled the long dispute over 175,000 square kilometers of maritime area rich in natural resources.

Norways’ Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of the Labour Party and Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev appeared at a joint press conference after talks in Murmansk. Russia and Norway have signed a maritime border agreement ending a 40-year dispute over a 175,000 sq km zone in the Barents Sea.

The two leaders had announced their agreement on the deal back in April, when Medvedev was on a state visit to Norway. Last week, officials at the Kremlin called Stoltenberg’s office and said they were ready to sign the deal. They invited the Norwegians to Murmansk and everyone quickly cleared their schedules to make the trip.

Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev spoke at a joint press conference after talks with Norways’ prime minister Jens Stoltenberg in Murmansk. It’s not often that Norwegians see the president of Russia standing next to the Norwegian flag, but they could on Wednesday.

The actual deal was signed by the foreign ministers for each country. Medvedev and Stoltenberg looked on as Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Støre shook hands after signing the Russian-Norwegian maritime border agreement in Murmansk. Stoltenberg and Medvedev were all smiles after agreeing on what the Norwegians call the “dellinje,” or dividing line, in the Barents Sea.

The historic pact settles rights not only to fishing but also to undersea oil and gas resources, and it may lead to a new boom in offshore exploration, despite the environmental sensitivity of the Arctic area. Russia is expected to move quickly with more seismic testing and offshore development, and Norwegian companies are clamoring to do the same but likely will face more regulation and political opposition.

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