ICJ Hears Macedonia’s Suit Against Greece


Hearings in the lawsuit lodged by Macedonia against Greece over its alleged violation of a 1995 interim agreement between the two nations opened at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday (March 21st).

Macedonia filed the suit at The Hague-based top UN court back in November 2008 after Greece blocked its NATO entry bid during the Alliance’s summit in Bucharest in April the same year, insisting the long-standing name dispute between the two should first be resolved.

In the complaint it submitted to the ICJ, Skopje called that move “a flagrant violation” of the provisions of Article 11 of the September 1995 interim accord between the two countries. That article stipulates that Greece “agrees not to object” to Macedonia’s membership in international organisations and institutions that refer to it as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia .

That is the provisional reference under which Macedonia was admitted to the UN in 1993 and is still used by Greece in reference to its northern neighbour. Athens refuses to recognise the former Yugoslav republic by its constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia, for fear this could imply potential territorial claims against the province of Macedonia in northern Greece.

In an opening speech at the ICJ , Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki told UN judges that his country is not seeking a resolution of its name dispute with Greece, which “remains the object of” a UN-mediated negotiation process.

The sole purpose of bringing the case before court is “to ensure that the respondent upholds one of its key obligations” under the 1995 accord, the minister stressed.

“We are sincerely sorry for this attitude of the respondent and hope for the Court to help both parties to return to the frames of the system, established by the interim accord,” Macedonian state-run news agency MIA quoted Milososki as saying. “It will enable us to resume our activities for joining NATO and the European Union — a goal we have been committed to since 1993 and one that is rather important for the internal stability of Macedonia’s multi-ethnic, democratic society.”

He also noted that Macedonia has been contributing to NATO efforts in Afghanistan since 2002, roughly six years before Greece’s decision to veto an invitation for the country to join the Alliance as a full-fledged member, along with Albania and Croatia.

Addressing the court Monday, British lawyer and professor Philippe Sands, a member of the team representing Macedonia, said the name of the former Yugoslav republic had never been intended to portray “any territorial claim”. But, the issue was of critical importance for its “internal stability and regional well-being”, he added.

The team representing Macedonia includes three other law professors from Washington, Brussels and Sorbonne, as well as two from the Faculty of Law in Skopje.

According to the schedule of hearings, Macedonia is due to wrap up its arguments on Tuesday (March 22nd). The judges will then hear Greece’s arguments during a two-day hearing opening Thursday.

The second round of oral presentations will open on March 28th and will end two days later with Greece’s closing remarks.

The ICJ is then expected to issue its ruling within the next six months.


The Southeast European Times Web site is a central source of news and information about Southeastern Europe in ten languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish. The Southeast European Times is sponsored by the US European Command, the joint military command responsible for US operations in 52 countries. EUCOM is committed to promoting stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

5 thoughts on “ICJ Hears Macedonia’s Suit Against Greece

  • March 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    “Professor Philippe Sands, a member of the team representing Macedonia, said the name of the former Yugoslav republic had never been intended to portray “any territorial claim”

    Mr.Sands is doing his job as a paid lawyer but only someone stupid couldn’t find evidence of FYROM nationalists attempting to usurp Greek history and using that to make claims Macedonia Greece as “occupied”.

    During the cold war Yugoslav communists played much the same persecution games. When Tito renamed the Vardar region “Macedonia” in 1944 they too claimed they weren’t looking to “United Macedonia”. Only a few years later a civil war broke out in Greece that left 120,000 dead (heavily sponsered by Greece’s neighbours to the north).

    The ironic part of this whole situation is the “ethnic Macedonians” are actually oppressing their own ethnic Bulgarian roots. (and their apologists, through omission of the facts, are essentially also helping them oppress their own Bulgarian heritage much like the communists during the cold war).

    “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

  • March 30, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Not another BIG Greek Lie?

    Despite what some may think, there will never be a solution to the problems with Modern Greece because the mere existence of Macedonians and an independent Macedonian state negate and contradict the very foundations on which the Modern Greek state and Modern ‘Greek’ ethnicity were built. Modern Greece was created from an ethnically diverse population assimilated either willingly or by force under ‘Neo-Hellenism’, or the false belief that they are all ‘directly’ descended from the ancient Hellenes.

    Any recognition of a Macedonian ethnicity by Modern Greece would be de facto recognition of the Macedonians within the borders of the modern Greece state. This poses a threat to the Modern ‘Greek’ identity as established under ‘Neo-Hellenism’, as the Moderns ‘Greeks’ are ALL supposed to be ‘directly descended’ from the ancient Hellenes. If the Macedonians in Modern Greece aren’t ‘Greek’ or ‘directly’ descended from the ancient Hellenes…then what other groups within Modern Greek society happen to be Non-Greek as well. These kinds of uncomfortable questions threaten to expose the policy of ‘Neo-Hellenism’ to be nothing more then a lie, to which Modern ‘Greeks’ fear would ultimately lead to the unraveling of the Modern Greek state. The Modern ‘Greeks’ therefore have two choices;

    1 – Abandon the policy of ‘Neo-Hellenism’ and rediscover their true ethnic origins, or…

    2 – Do everything in their power to erase the existence of a Macedonian ethnicity.

    It is therefore clear what choice the Modern ‘Greeks’ have made. Modern ‘Greeks’ will NEVER recognize the existence of a Macedonian ethnicity and will do everything in their power to negate and erase the existence of Macedonia and Macedonians.

    For this reason all diplomatic discussions with Modern Greece are pointless and must end NOW!!!

  • May 13, 2011 at 5:00 am

    The most striking thing since the formation of FYROM two decades ago is the complete and utter lack of evidence to prove the Slavs who now dare call themselves ‘Macedonian’ and build statues of Alexander are the actual heirs of Alexander the Great.

    This is because there is NO link between the Slavs that came to Europe almost a thousand years after Alexander died and ancient Macedonia.

    Instead the FYROM Slavs content themselves with amateurish attempts at questioning Greek history despite centuries of study and evidence by historians, archeaologists and other academics. Or creating conspiracy theories about alleged ‘Neo-Hellenism’ to muddy the waters.

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  • December 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    “Professor Philippe Sands, a member of the team representing Macedonia, said the name of the former Yugoslav republic had never been intended to portray “any territorial claim”

    Mr.Sands is doing his job as a paid lawyer

    Very good said very good poor greeks what did they thinkin by entering the court that they would run over the well paid professors foreigners lawyers from Uk and washington?? Put your self together greeks..you need help outside Greece..You are not fighting the Vardaska clowns but the pro lawyers outside their country outside Vardaska. They know that they would loose against you with out help these people can hardly speak and walk more less representing their country..


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