The Grey Zone Agreement of 1978: Fishery Concerns, Security Challenges and Territorial Interests

FNI Report 13/2009. Lysaker, FNI, 2009, 43 p.

The Norwegian-Soviet Grey Zone Agreement – negotiated in 1977, and ratified and put into practice in 1978 – was a provisional solution that enabled the two countries to solve unanswered questions of jurisdiction and resource access in a disputed area in the Barents Sea. The report inquires into why and how the agreement came about as it did, focusing on the Norwegian position and the decision-making of the Norwegian government. The negotiations were initiated on the basis of the need to safeguard the fisheries, to avoid conflict and unstable conditions in the disputed area, and in order to prevent unwanted territorial consequences in the wake of the establishment of extended economic zones at sea. The negotiations leading to this provisional, practical fisheries arrangement became heavily influenced by the same foreign policy objectives as in the delimitation talks. Ultimately it was strategic foreign policy concerns that determined the final decision for the Norwegian government.