Monday, December 5, 2011

UN International Court of Justice rules against Greece in Macedonia case

The world court ruled Monday that Greece was wrong to block Macedonia's bid to join NATO in 2008 because of a long-running dispute over the fledgling country's use of the name Macedonia. you can download the judgement and the summary of the judgement here. You can find more information below

Source: ABC News

 In a 15-1 ruling, the court found that Greece's veto breached a 1995 deal under which Greece had agreed not to block Macedonia's membership in international organizations if it used the name "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," or FYROM, while the matter was submitted to further negotiations. More than 15 years later, mediation over the name is still unresolved.

Although the question of Macedonia's name is sometimes seen as superficial by outsiders, it is a matter of deep concern for both sides. The young country has used the name in one form or another since shortly after World War II, when it was a province of Yugoslavia, but Greece sees the use of the name as historically inaccurate at best and a potential threat to its territorial integrity at worst.

The victory is mostly symbolic but it may make it politically difficult for Greece to block Macedonia's entry into NATO if it reapplies. It also lends moral weight to Macedonian protests that Greece's moves to block it from joining the European Union are unfair.

However, the U.N. court, formally known as the International Court of Justice, did not fine Greece or order it to refrain from similar moves in the future. The ruling's central finding that Greece "has violated its obligation...(under) the interim accord, constitutes appropriate satisfaction," said presiding Judge Hisashi Owada, reading the written ruling.

Greece's Foreign Ministry said Monday it will continue to block Macedonia's attempts to join NATO until the name issue is resolved. Outside the courtroom, Greece's Dutch Ambassador Ioannis Economides called on Macedonia "to resist using today's decision to subvert the negotiations."
Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said Greece should "respect the judgment of the International Court of Justice."

"For the time being, we do not want to look through the categories of winners and losers," he said, promising to continue the negotiations.

Ordinary Macedonians appeared pleased.

"Finally, a little justice for Macedonia!" said housewife Marina Stevcevska, 49, after hearing of the ruling.

"After years of disappointments for this country, finally we have received a good news, somebody to tell Greece that it is doing wrong, that is enough", she said.

There was little opposition from Athens to the name until the FYROM declared independence in 1991. The country occupies much of the territory in the region that was known as Macedonia in the times of Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C.

But since then, the region has undergone such complete ethnic and cultural changes to render the name nonsensical, Greece argues — not to mention that Greece has its own province called Macedonia.
The FYROM is now composed mostly of Slavic peoples who speak a language similar to Bulgarian — and Bulgaria was a bitter military enemy to Greece in the first half of the 20th century.

Greece has long-term concerns that the use by the FYROM of the name Macedonia will eventually lead to the country, possibly together with Bulgaria, staking claims to parts of modern Greece.

The FYROM has been friendly to NATO from its inception, allowing U.S. troops to use its territory as a staging ground during the Yugoslav wars. NATO clashed with Serbia under the rule of Slobodan Milosevic even as Greece sympathized with Belgrade due to historical strategic and religious ties.

Under the 1995 interim agreement, Greece dropped economic sanctions against the FYROM in exchange for agreements by the country to drop the use of an ancient Macedonian flag as its own, and to amend articles of its constitution, which could be seen as hinting at claims to Greek territory.
AP reporters Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos contributed from Athens and Konstantin Testorides contributed from Skopje, Macedonia.

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