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A dispute over the Black Sea border between Romania and Bulgaria has surfaced following discoveries that the area is rich in fuel deposits.
Romania and Bulgaria say they working to solve a border dispute over a small part of the Black Sea following discoveries that the waters which both countries claim are rich in hydrocarbons.
“I am confident the problem will be solved by April 15 in a reasonable European manner”, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said on Thursday, according to Novinite, a Sofia-based news agency.
"Romania is obviously seeking a quick solution to the problem... Romania's Foreign Minister is talking about an 'unresolved problem', not about a territorial problem," Plevneliev added.
His words came in response to statements on Wednesday from Romanian Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu, who said in a TV interview that both Romania and its southern neighbour had claims to 17 square kilometres of the Black Sea.
"I don’t see why we cannot solve rapidly these issues between European states, states that co-operate very well on other levels, sharing common interests," Diaconescu said.
The minister stressed that this topic was not new, and Romania did not intend to start a new era of territorial claims and spats.
The statements of the Romanian Foreign Minister came as a surprise to many Romanians as nothing about this ancient dispute has been made public for years.
Furthermore, the lack of any land or maritime disputes was a condition for Bulgaria and Romania to join the EU in 2007.
While both countries’ officials have reacted cautiously, saying a solution will be reached, analysts say Bucharest is exerting pressure to get a favourable solution.
“The disputed area lies on the route of the future South Stream gas pipeline, so if Romania gets it, it will gets also a direct border... to the future rival Nabucco gas pipeline,” journalist Sabina Fati from Romania Libera newspaper noted.
Furthermore, Romanian media claim that Bulgaria had already started talks with US company Exxon about awarding an oil and gas concession for the disputed area.
In recent years, several oil and gas deposits were spotted in the Black Sea region. Two oil giants to whom Romania has yielded two major oil and gas field deposits recently said they had discovered oil deposits worth some 37 billion US dollars.
Romania has proved a tough negotiator before. In 2009 the International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Romania in a long-running maritime dispute with Ukraine over a tiny islet on the Black Sea with access to potentially vast reserves of oil and gas.
The Hague Tribunal has been successful in bringing wartime commanders to justice but hasn’t met expectations on reconciliation, chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told BIRN.