RUSSIAN-CHINESE BORDER AGREEMENT DOES NOT CREATE PRECEDENT FOR TERRITORIAL DISPUTES

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MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's ratifying the additional agreement with China on the border does not create a precedent for resolving other territorial disputes.

"There is an opinion that Russia will be freely giving out its territories, first of all the Kuriles, after the Russian-Chinese additional agreement was ratified in the State Duma (the Russian parliament's lower chamber)," Head of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev told a press conference.

"The controversy with China is essentially different from that with Japan from a legal point of view. The land disputed over by Russia and China has never been defined legally. And the compromise we have reached is apparently the only possible one. As to Japan, the situation is quite different. There are documents which define the disputed islands as belonging to Russia and their possible handover can only be an act of good will on the part of Russia," Kosachev said.

The chairman of the committee specified that the matter was about "some legal uncertainty rather than territorial disputes". "Situations like this exist in Russian-Ukrainian relations, for example. Russia suggests that the Kerch Strait (the Black Sea) be used as a common zone, whereas Ukraine presses for demarcation," the MP noted.

"There are legally undetermined Caspian aquatic zones. Besides, Russia questions the justice of the so-called Baker-Shevardnadze agreement on the Bering Strait (Between the Chukchee and Bering Seas)," he added.

Lower chamber MPs ratified an additional Russian-Chinese agreement on the eastern sector of the border last week. The Federation Council, upper chamber, will consider the document on May 25.

The additional agreement will eradicate a potential source of instability in bilateral relations in the long-term interests of Russia and enhance friendship and cooperation, Mikhail Margelov, Chairman of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, said.

"The document is supposed to play an important role in the development of the Far Eastern border cooperation," Margelov assured those present.

Under the additional agreement China has received a sector of the border territory that the USSR claimed was its own de facto.

The document, which was signed during President Putin's visit to China on October 14, 2004, legally fixes the border line in the disputed sector.

In 1991 the parties signed an agreement that determined 98% of the Russian-Chinese border, which extended over more than 4,300 kilometers, including over the Amur and Ussuri rivers. The border line lay along the fairway.

The additional agreement focused on two other border sectors, the region of Bolshoi Island in the upper reaches of the Argun river and Tarabarov and Bolshoi Ussuriisky islands near Khabarovsk, which account for less than 2% of the Russian-Chinese border.

The peculiarity of the issue is that in both cases the border line will lie not only along the surface of rivers, but cross the islands as well. As a result the total area of both regions, a little more than 370 square kilometers, will be distributed between Russia and China approximately equally.

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