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World Court Starts Hearing On Macedonia Lawsuit

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By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonia is to elaborate its arguments before the court on Monday and Tuesday, and Greek on Thursday and Friday.

The 15 ICJ judges, from all around the world, are expected to decide on this case within the next six months, or by the end of the year at the latest.

Macedonia sued Greece at the ICJ in 2009 for blocking its accession to NATO in 2008 over Macedonia’s unresolved name dispute.

Macedonia argues that the blockade violates the 1995 UN-brokered Interim Accord, which regulates relations between the two states.

Macedonia
Macedonia

The accord obliges Greece not to block the accession of its neighbour to international organizations.

On March 28, Macedonia will respond to Greece’s defence and the hearing will conclude on March 30 with the final word from the Greek side.

“Macedonia will probably use statements from former Greek officials to back its case,” Vasko Popetrevski, editor of the daily Dnevnik newspaper, told Balkan Insight.

He said that statements of former Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis and former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis from before the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest will show they did not allow Macedonia to join NATO because of Greek objections to the country’s name.

“This may be taken by the ICJ as proof of the official stand of the country,” Popetrevski said.

Greece argues that Macedonia broke the 1995 accord by taking a hard line over the “name” issue and by “stealing” its history by renaming airports, highways and sport arenas after Ancient Greek heroes.

“Greece will try to prove that it is not exercising any veto against Macedonia joining NATO,” the Greek journalist and publicist Takis Michas told Balkan Insight.

He notes that the joint NATO communiqué issued after the 2008 Bucharest summit stated that the two countries had failed to reach a decision on Macedonia’s accession and did not mention a Greek veto.

Observers say they are unsure whether an ICJ verdict in favour of Macedonia would be applicable in reality. Macedonia wants Greece to withdraws its objections to Macedonia’s NATO membership so that the country can join.

Established in 1945, the ICJ’s main function is to settle legal disputes between states. ICJ rulings are final and cannot be appealed. However, the court has no instruments to make countries comply with rulings.

Macedonian diplomats close to the ICJ case say the outcome to the lawsuit should not be linked to the ongoing “name” talks between Macedonia and Greece, held under UN auspices.

The dispute is almost two decades’ old. Greece insists that the name “Republic of Macedonia” implies a territorial claim to the Greek northern province, also called Macedonia.

In late 2009, Greek objections to Macedonia’s name prevented the EU from extending a start date for Macedonia’s accession talks with the block, despite a previous recommendation from the European Commission for negotiations to start.

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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.

4 thoughts on “World Court Starts Hearing On Macedonia Lawsuit

  • March 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm
    Permalink

    True that after Alexander’s death Macedonia fell to the Greeks and remained under them for long time.In a region a language can change or disappear with time.Dari use to be spoken in Persia right up till Safavid Dynasty.Until the Raza Shah founder of Pelhavi Dynasty decided to
    switch to Azeri dailect using french words in the court.In course of time Macedonians adopted
    slavic dialect. The Greeks should put their own
    house in order and let Macedonians alone.

    Reply
  • March 21, 2011 at 8:55 pm
    Permalink

    “indigenous,”
    You seem to be the one that is confused. Claiming that you are a direct descendant of peoples that occupied the modern greek territory thousands of years ago is absurd. Do you really believe you are that pure? If so, you are a joke. Macedonians have every right to be called Macedonians, as that is what they are and have been for a very long time.

    “Macedonia for the Macedonians!” – William Gladstone, 1892

    Reply
  • March 22, 2011 at 9:20 am
    Permalink

    It is about a time that Macedonian government sue Greece. Greece should compensate Macedonia and let Macedonia go.

    Reply
  • April 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm
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    @Indigenous Macedonian….as much more you write same and same bullsh#ts….that less and less people believe you (I refer to other people, not Greeks and Firomanians as you like to call Macedonians).

    Reply

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