ICJ Rules Greece Violated Interim Accord
The Government of the Republic of Macedonia today welcomed the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its case against Greece.
In its judgment, the ICJ accepted the argument of the Republic of Macedonia that Greece violated Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord of 1995, when it objected to the Republic of Macedonia’s membership of NATO in April 2008.
The landmark ruling from the Court means that Greece cannot lawfully object to the Republic of Macedonia’s membership of NATO. Moreover, the Court’s ruling clears an important obstacle to the Republic of Macedonia’s future negotiation of EU membership.
Welcoming the Court's ruling, Nikola Poposki, Foreign Minister, said:
“The Republic of Macedonia welcomes the judgment of the Court, which precludes Greece from continuing its efforts to block my country from joining NATO and the European Union”.
“We started these proceedings in November 2008, after Greece objected to our accession to NATO at the Bucharest Summit. We brought the case to protect our rights under the Interim Accord of 1995, and we express our gratitude to the Court for its clear ruling that Greece’s objection was illegal. The judgment is important because Greece has threatened to act in the same way in the EU context.”
“Although this case was not about the name issue, the Republic of Macedonia remains strongly committed to finding a lasting, mutually acceptable solution to the difference with Greece over the name. It will continue to participate in good-faith in the name negotiations, under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General, as it has always done, including over the course of the past three years, despite Greece’s negative actions in blocking our NATO membership. The Republic of Macedonia has the highest possible interest in finding a definitive solution to the name difference, the shadow of which it has been living under for the past twenty years.”
“The Republic of Macedonia remains firmly committed to the rule of law and to acceding NATO and EU membership. The decision of the Court marks a further step down the road to membership. Again, I look forward to Greece allowing our membership in NATO, in accordance with its obligations under international law, and with the support of the other NATO members.”
(1) Since the declaration of independence of the Republic of Macedonia in 1991, Greece has persistently objected to the name of the State. In 1995, the Republic of Macedonia and Greece signed the Interim Accord of 1995, which normalised relations between the two States, and which continues to serve as the basis for their mutual diplomatic relations.
(2) However, in April2008, at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, Greece blocked the Republic of Macedonia’s membership of NATO. It has threatened to do the same in relation to the EU. In November 2008, the Republic of Macedonia initiated proceedings before the International Court of Justice (the ‘World Court’), asking the Court to adjudge Greece’s actions as illegal. It initiated proceedings pursuant to Article 21(2) of the Interim Accord, which provides for the referral of all disputes between the two countries relating to the Interim Accord, with the sole exception of the name negotiations, to the International Court of Justice for resolution.
(3) Under the Interim Accord, Greece undertook not to object to the Republic of Macedonia’s membership in international, regional and multi lateral organisations and institutions of which Greece was a prior member, in circumstances where the State was to be referred to under the provisional designation of ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’. Article 11(1) of the Interim Accord provides that
“Upon entry into force of this Interim Accord, The Party of the First Part agrees not to object to the application by or the membership of the Party of the Second Part in international, multilateral and regional organizations and institutions of which the Party of the First Part is a member; however, the Party of the First Part reserves the right to object to any membership referred to above if and to the extent of the Party of the Second Part is to be referred to in such organization or institution differently than in paragraph 2 of the United Nations Security Council resolution 817 (1993).