Russia, Ukraine to discuss delimitation of Azov-Kerch water body

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will meet his Ukrainian counterpart to discuss the problem of the demarcation of the Azov-Kerch water body during his visit to Ukraine which began on Thursday.

On October 24, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov reported, when his negotiations with Ukrainian Premier Viktor Yanukovich wound up, that the agreement on the status of the Azov-Kerch water body would be prepared in the course of 2-3 months. "We propose that the demarcation line go along the bottom rather than on the surface with the purpose of using the mineral wealth," Kasyanov emphasised. According to him, 7-8 agreements should be concluded to carry out the delimitation. They will relate to fishing, navigation, environmental protection and the use of mineral wealth.

"I believe that this is a good way to solve the issue of the Azov-Kerch water body's status," the Russian prime minister stressed.

Yanukovich declared at a press conference held on October 28 that the stance of Ukraine remains unchanged - the Ukrainian-Russian border determined in the Soviet era exists in the Kerch Strait.

He also stressed that the Sea of Azov can have the status of internal waters of Ukraine and Russia only if the border demarcation line passes on the surface rather than along the bottom as Russia proposes.

The negotiations to determine the status and delimitation of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait have been held for more than seven years with a variable success.

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