The litigation between Romania and Bulgaria regarding the maritime delimitation between the two neighbours and the possibility that it might be resolved by the equidistance method, which is the method used by the International Court of Justice in The Hague is the topic tackled by State Secretary at the Foreign Affairs Ministry Bogdan Aurescu in an interview with Agerpres.
Aurescu said the negotiations began in 1994, at expert level – the heads of the judicial departments – the director general for judicial affairs with the Romanian foreign ministry and his counterpart in the Bulgarian foreign ministry are the heads of the negotiating delegations.
‘This is not a new issue in the bilateral relation. The only novel element is that this matter has become public’, he stressed.
The Romanian and Bulgarian Black Sea coast follows one after another and the method Romania proposed from the very beginning in this negotiating process is exactly the method the International Court of Justice has used in all the suits over maritime delimitations it has settled, including the delimitation between Romania and Ukraine. That is the principle of equidistance – a line lying at an equal distance from the relevant points on the relevant shores of the two states.
The disputed area lies on nearly 350 square kilometres, unlike the situation with Ukraine, when the disputed surface covered 12,200 sq km.
There is a recent development that has unsettled the Romanian side to a certain extent. We learned that a notification was published in the European Union’s Official Journal last year, following a resolution of the Bulgarian Council of Ministers regarding the start of the procedures for the concession of a Black Sea area, the limits of which overlap a section in the disputed area.
‘Here I want to underline an issue that seems very important to me: I saw some reactions from some Bulgarian political forces, from the Bulgarian media in which it was said Romania put forward territorial clams over Bulgaria. This is a mistake.
One cannot talk of territorial claims when one has, together with the other state, a maritime delimitation under way, with a disputed area over which both sides have competing claims. Both Romania and Bulgaria have claims over that area. Therefore, in a maritime delimitation exercise such as this we cannot talk of territorial claims. We talk of a maritime delimitation currently under way, but one that must be settled in accordance with the international laws in force’, Aurescu underscored.
The next round of talks with Bulgaria, the 15th, will take place in Bucharest later this year. The Romanian side’s wish is to resolve this matter by negotiation, given it is the simplest method of reaching a settlement to this dispute. Should such negotiations lead to no result, we will, together with the Bulgarian side – because the agreement of both sides is required in this respect – have to find another way to settle the issue including resorting to a third party – if it is deemed necessary from a political viewpoint by the two countries; such third party could, for example, be the International Court of Justice or an arbitrating court, or the International Court for the Sea Law based in Hamburg, which is also competent in settling the maritime delimitations.