The Baltic Straits include the , the Great Belt and the .(See Map 36.) The Sound is the shortest passage between the Baltic Seaand the Kattegat and the . It is 2.2 miles wide at its narrowest point,but its depth is insufficient for deep draught vessels. The sole deep water channelruns through the 10 mile-wide Great Belt. These straits are governed inpart by two treaties, the Treaty for the Redemption of the Sound Dues, Copenhagen,March 14, 1857, granting free passage of the Sound and Belts for allflags on April 1, 1857, and the .Danish Convention on Discontinuance ofSound Dues, April 11, 1857, guaranteeing forever “the free and unencumberednavigation of American vessels through the Sound and the Belts”. When it signed the , and confirmed on ratification in 1996, declared in part that:It is the understanding of the Government of Sweden that the exception fromthe transit regime in straits provided for in article 35(c) of the Convention isapplicable to the between Sweden and Denmark (Oresund) . . . Since in [thisstrait] the passage is regulated in whole or in part by long‑standing internationalconvention in force, the present legal regime in [this strait] will remain unchangedafter the entry into force of the Convention. On ratification of the Convention in 2004, Denmark declared:It is the position of the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark that the exceptionfrom the transit passage regime provided for in article 35 (c) of the Conventionapplies to the specific regime in the (the Great Belt, the LittleBelt and the Danish part of the Sound), which has developed on the basis of theCopenhagen Treaty of 1857. The present legal regime of the Danish straits willtherefore remain unchanged. Warships were never subject to payment of the so‑called “Sound Dues,” andthus it can be argued that no part of these “long‑standing international conventions”are applicable to them. The U.S. view is that warships and state aircrafttraverse the Oresund and the Belts based either under the customary right oftransit passage or under the conventional right of “free and unencumberednavigation,” since transit passage is a more restrictive regime than freedom ofnavigation guaranteed in the 1857 Conventions. The result is the same: aninternational right of transit independent of coastal state interference. BothDenmark and Sweden (Oresund), however, maintain that warships and stateaircraft that transit the Baltic Straits are subject to coastal state restrictions. Theyargue that the “longstanding international conventions” apply, as “modified” bylongstanding domestic legislation. The United States does not agree that LOSConvention article 35(c) regimes may be unilaterally restricted. In 1991, Finland instituted proceedings in the International Court ofJustice against Denmark in respect of a concerning passage throughthe Great Belt arising from Denmark's intention to construct a 65-meterhigh fixed bridge across the sole deep water route between the Baltic and the North Sea (Route T in the Great Belt), thereby preventing the passage of oil drilling rigs constructed by Finland in its shipyards from being towed in their vertical position under the bridge en route to the…

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