Macedonia Savors World Court Victory Over Greece


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The president of the court, Judge Hisashi Ovada, said the judges had ruled by 15 votes to one “that the Hellenic Republic, by objecting to the admission of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to NATO, has breached its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995”.

The court found that Greece had failed to prove that in 2008 it had acted “in response” to a previous Macedonian breach of the same accord. (Click here to download the official full document of the ICJ ruling (PDF)

However, the court did not uphold Macedonia’s request and order Greece to restrain from blocking its smaller neighbour from joining International organizations in future.

In November, 2008, Macedonia instituted proceedings against Greece before the World Court for what it described as “a flagrant violation of [Greece’s] obligations under Article 11” of the 1995 UN brokered bilateral Interim Accord that regulates relations between the two countries.

In the UN deal Greece undertook not to block Macedonia’s accession to international organization as long as the country used the provisional UN reference, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM.

During the public hearings in March, Greece insisted that it did not block Macedonia’s NATO membership; it was a joint decision of all countries attending the NATO summit in Romania.

The judgment is final, without appeal and is binding on the parties, though the World Court has no tools to enforce its decisions.

But officials in Skopje believe that a positive ruling for Macedonia will have shifted the terms of the argument in Macedonia’s favour.

The ICJ case was a direct consequence of the longstanding bilateral dispute between Macedonia and Greece over the former’s name.

Greece insists that use of the term “Macedonia” by its neighbour implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name.

Macedonia, on the other hand, sees the demand to change its name as insulting and as an attack on the country’s identity.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

One thought on “Macedonia Savors World Court Victory Over Greece

  • December 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    FYROM had an identity…Bulgarian. It (and its apologists) are the ones that are attacking Greece’s identity. Ethnic cleansing Macedonians and substituting them with FYROM nationalists is not a human right.

    Shame on the ICJ for pretending not to notice FYROM’s irredentism and attempts to usurp Greek history. Greece should withdraw from any organization that supports FYROM. Their selective memory demonstrates they harbour prejudices against Greeks.

    ‘We are not related to the northern Greeks who produced leaders like Philip and Alexander the Great. We are a Slav people and our language is closely related to Bulgarian.’ – FYROM´s Ambassador to Canada Gyordan Veselinov, Ottawa Citizen Newspaper, February 24 1999

    “We are Slavs who came to this area in the sixth century … We are not descendants of the ancient Macedonians” – Kiro Gligorov, FYROM’s first President, Foreign Information Service Daily Report, Eastern Europe, February 26, 1992

    “The creation of the Macedonian nation, for almost half of a century, was done in a condition of single-party dictatorship. In those times, there was no difference between science and ideology, so the “Macedonian” historiography, unopposed by anybody, comfortably performed a selection of the historic material from which the “Macedonian” identity was created. There is nothing atypical here for the process of the creation of any modern nation, except when falsification from the type of substitution of the word “Bulgarian” with the word “Macedonian” were made.” -former FYROM foreign minister Denko Maleski


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