Netherlands, Russia resolve dispute over Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise arrests

Greenpeace'_Arctic_Sunrise Bicycle Bob Wikimedia commons

Russia has agreed to pay 2.7 million euro to the Netherlands as part of a final settlement to end the dispute over a 2013 incident where Russian personnel boarded a Greenpeace ship. The amount is less than the 7 million originally sought by Greenpeace and the Netherlands, and half the amount awarded at arbitration.

"Based on bilateral consultations held in 2018 and 2019, the Netherlands and Russia concluded an agreement that resolves and completely settles the Arctic Sunrise dispute," Foreign Affairs Minister Stef Blok wrote in a letter to Parliament. The agreement between the countries guarantees protestors their rights as activists, while protecting a sovereign nation's right to protect its shore line and access off-shore natural resources.

Any similar arguments in the future will also be resolved by arbitration. The agreement also paves the way for joint research, expeditions, and scientific funding.

"Both countries acknowledge the right to protest at sea. This underlines that ships in international waters cannot be boarded and persons on board cannot be arrested without cause," Blok added on Twitter.

In his letter, Blok noted that Greenpeace was consulted before the deal was concluded. Newspaper AD reported the 2.7 million euro settlement will be paid to Greenpeace.

Of the 28 crew and activists detained, only engineer Mannes Ubels and campaigner Faiza Oulahsen are from the Netherlands. The rest are from 17 different nations, and were joined by journalists from Russia and the UK.

"After 6 years, Russia finally acknowledges that the entry of the Greenpeace ship and our detention was unjustified. A victory for the right to protest," Oulahsen wrote on Twitter.

The international incident occurred in September 2013 when Russian authorities fired warning shots when personnel on the Dutch-flagged ship boarded a Gazprom oil drilling platform. Gazprom, a Russian energy giant, was operating the platform in the international waters of the Pestjora Sea. The so-called "Arctic 30" were released by the end of 2013, and the ship was returned to Greenpeace in August 2014.

In 2017, an arbitration panel ordered Russia to pay the Netherlands 5.4 million euro plus interest stemming from the detention of a Greenpeace ship and the arrest of all 30 people on board, but Russia refused to recognize the International Maritime Law Tribunal's judgment and jurisdiction. Russia did not participate in the hearings.