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Macedonia Mulls Options After World Court Ruling

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By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonia is weighing possible scenarios following the decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague in its case against neighbouring Greece.

Macedonia sued Greece in 2008 at the ICJ for blocking its accession to NATO over the countries’ unresolved name dispute. The court is expected to issue a ruling on November 16.

Skopje argues that the NATO blockade violates its rights under the 1995 United Nations-brokered Interim Accord that regulated relations between the two states, in which Greece agreed not to block the accession of its neighbour to international organizations.

The Greek side argues that Macedonia was the party that broke the accord by taking a hard line stance over the name issue and by appropriating Greek history by renaming airports, highways and sport arenas after heroes of Greek antiquity.

“If the ruling goes in Macedonia’s favour, meaning, if the court rules that Greece violated the UN accord, Macedonia will try to make political use of this,” a senior official from the Macedonian Foreign Ministry told Balkan Insight.

Sources say that in that case Macedonia may turn to the UN Security Council seeking its protection from further Greek violations of the accord, as well as informing NATO, the EU and the UN mediator [in the name dispute] Matthew Nimetz about the ICJ ruling.

As part of the Interim Accord Macedonia and Greece were obliged to seek a compromise name solution through UN-mediated talks. But the talks have so far failed to make a breakthrough.

If Macedonia loses the case, “a straight withdrawal from the Interim Accord will probably not be an option,” the same source said.

Instead, Macedonia may choose to distance itself from the accord by informing the UN that it will in future “act according to its own interests” because of the Greek breach of the accord that the ICJ had failed to acknowledge.

Some observers say the ICJ will most probably try to reach out a balanced ruling and try in its reasoning to pinpoint ways in both sides with their acts had breached the accord.

In such scenario, the strategy of Macedonia will be to use its diplomacy to promote the parts of the ICJ reasoning that are most favourable, hoping to gain further support for its cause.

Skopje and Athens have been locked in a dispute over use of the name Macedonia for almost two decades. Athens insists that Macedonia’s indicates a territorial claims to the Greek northern province also called Macedonia.

The row escalated in 2008 when Greece blocked NATO from extending a membership invitation to Macedonia over the issue, after which Macedonia decided to sue. The court process started in January 2009.

The ICJ ruling is final and obligatory but the ICJ has no practical means of forcing a country to honor it. This means that if Macedonia wins the case, this will not automatically mean Greecde lifting its blockade on NATO and EU.

Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt 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.

5 thoughts on “Macedonia Mulls Options After World Court Ruling

  • Avatar
    October 9, 2011 at 9:50 am
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    This Decision is plain and simple from a non-biases person. Its amazing how a country can be forced to change its Name by another bigger bully.

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  • Avatar
    October 9, 2011 at 10:28 pm
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    Exactly who is the bully?? Funny how the Greeks in the Province of Macedonia get along just fine with the Bulgarians of Pirin Macedonia because they do not claim each others history or territories. Skopje is blatantly monopolising the Macedonian identity claiming that they are the only “Macedonians” and that Greek and Bulgarian Macedonians do not exist. Macedonia is a geographical region and Greece and Bulgaria have learned to share this but now it’s time for Skopje to do the same otherwise they have no place in the EU/NATO.

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  • Avatar
    October 10, 2011 at 10:31 am
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    Not hard to see what happens after the ICJ verdict. Macedonia goes to the UN General Assembly next September asking for a vote on the UN use name. They have over 130 countries on their side – Greece has 14, that leaves about 50 undecided. All they need is a simple majority of 97 and Republic of Macedonia is the UN use name. The UN name issue is sorted – and that means that the EU and NATO problem is sorted as well – because both state that ‘the name issue needs to be resolved’.

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  • Avatar
    October 10, 2011 at 10:30 pm
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    NO it will not be settled until Skopjes stops the MONOPOLISATION of MACEDONIAN REGION. THERE is also PIRIN MACEDONIA and the PROVINCE OF MACEDONIA which have a right to the Macedonian identity. Every country in the world already recognises the Province of Macedonia and Pirin Macedonia except for Skopje!

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  • Avatar
    October 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm
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    Bulgar is right, Greece and Bulgaria share two geographic locations, Macedonia as well as Thrace. Not once have either country monopolised these regions. Greeks respect the Bulgarian historical figures that belong to Bulgaria from both these regions and Bulgarians likewise. It’s these “new” Macedonians that are not only stealing Greek history, but Bulgarian as well.

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