The FYROM press has already started its disinformation (see below)*: They have published that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decisions are binding. The truth is that they are not. The reason behind the FYROM press statements is disinformation to the people in the FYROM, but also all over the world that Greece does not abide by the ICJ rules. The whole lawsuit has as a goal favorable impressions for poor “Macedonia!” Cases before the ICJ are legally binding ONLY when two parties seeking in essence binding arbitration mutually bring a dispute before it. These cases are on continental shelves, border disputes, etc. Sometimes even that is not enforceable, case in point the border dispute that exists between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The case between the FYROM and Greece is a unilateral lawsuit on whether one party violated the terms of a treaty. Essentially in this case, the “Republic of Macedonia” has filed a complaint before the ICJ because Greece “obstructed” the above country to join NATO. The problem with this thinking is that the “Republic of Macedonia” applied to join NATO under this name and not with the name: The FYROM. Even the complaint to the ICJ was filed under the name “Republic of Macedonia,” not The FYROM. As we say in the United States, the Interim Agreement is not Burger King to have the hamburger made “your” way; it is take it or leave it!
The other issue is that Greece never had to bring a “veto” against the “Republic of Macedonia,” which legally does not exist in the eyes of the NATO alliance. Allies and Partners in NATO simply did not agree that Skopje met all criteria to participate as an equal. Alliances are social clubs and consensus to join is a prerequisite. How can anyone expect a Greek soldier to fight alongside a soldier whose country insists on fingering Greece? Although there is a difference between friends and allies, the allies make a pact based on common interests. Because of it, trust is essential.
Article 11.1 of The Interim Agreement between Athens and Skopje states: “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).
However, UN Security Council resolution 817.2 states: [The UNSC] “Recommends to the General Assembly that the State whose application is contained in document S/25147 be admitted to membership in the United Nations, this State being provisionally referred to for all purposes within the United Nations as “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” pending settlement of the difference that has arisen over the name of the State.”
The FYROM violated article 11.1 of The Interim Accord because the FYROM did not use the “provisionally referred to for all purposes [name] within the United Nations as “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” pending settlement of the difference that has arisen over the name of the State.
“Article 11. 2 [of the Interim Accord]: The Parties agree that the ongoing economic development of the Party of the Second Part should be supported through international cooperation, as far as possible by a close relationship of the Party of the Second Part with the European Economic Area and the European Union.” The above says that Greece should be supportive as far as possible. This support is not exclusive. It does not say that Greece shall be supportive no matter what!
The FYROM has violated article 11 of the Interim Agreement for insisting on the name “Republic of Macedonia” while the same article states that its name until the dispute is over is The FYROM. In addition, The FYROM is in blatant violation of articles 6 and 7 of the same agreement.
Even if the Court finds for the FYROM, nothing is going to change. NOBODY, including the UNSC has the right to oblige one state to do something that that state considers it is against its own national security in a broader or the narrower sense; NOBODY.
*Please take a look what Balkan Insight states and then see what the (“Macedonian” Information Agency) MIA states. Both relevant statements are in bold and underlined.
Sarajevo BalkanInsight.com 20 Jan 10
Report by Sinisa-Jakov Marusic: “Macedonian Journalists Accused of Helping Greece”
Skopje — Greece is using Macedonian journalists’ reports to support its case at the Hague-based International Court of Justice, ICJ, where it is being sued for its refusal to unblock Macedonia’s NATO accession, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov told media.
UN-led name talks have so far failed to produce a compromise between Athens and Skopje.
Ivanov said this on Tuesday [19 January], approximately at the same time when Greece presented its memorandum containing its counter arguments to the Macedonian suit at the ICJ.
“I hear many of the arguments will be from our journalists who gave statements, spread speculations, and gave false information, which the Greek side is using to their advantage,” Ivanov stated.
In its memorandum, Greece utterly rejects Macedonian claims that it vetoed Skopje’s NATO accession in 2008, arguing that the failure to invite Macedonia to the block at the Bucharest summit of the alliance was due to a lack of consensus, according to the Greek Foreign Ministry.
The ministry said the memorandum included legal, political, and historical arguments that fully refute Skopje’s claims.
Macedonian authorities last year filed legal proceedings against Greece for blocking its NATO entry. They claim this violated the 1995 UN Interim Accord that obliged Greece not to block Macedonia from entering international organizations as long as it uses its UN provisional name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM.
Athens, for its part, argues that Macedonia was the one that broke the UN-sponsored agreement first by renaming important infrastructure after heroes from Greek history, such as ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.
Athens and Skopje are locked in an 18-year-long dispute over the use of the name Macedonia. Greece insists that its neighbour’s official name, the Republic of Macedonia, must be changed, as it implies territorial claims over its own northern province also called Macedonia.
In 2008, Athens blocked Skopje from entering NATO by using its rule that new member states must be approved by consensus by all members of the alliance. Similarly, in December 2009, Greece prevented the EU from extending a start date for Macedonia’s EU accession talks. In both cases, Athens cited the unresolved name spat as reason.
Legal experts warn that the case could drag on for years and that court decisions are not legally binding.
Skopje MIA in English 1345 GMT 20 Jan 10
[“Greece’s Counter-Memorial Submitted to Macedonian State Institutions, Its Contents Remain Confidential — Dimitrov” — MIA headline]
Skopje, January 20 (MIA) — Macedonian ambassador to the Netherlands and co-representative before the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) Nikola Dimitrov confirmed Wednesday [ 20 January] that state institutions had already received Greece’s counter-memorial involving the lawsuit filed by Macedonia against Greece for breaching the 1995 interim bilateral agreement by blocking country’s NATO membership invitation at the Bucharest Summit.
- The Republic of Greece submitted its counter-memorial in accordance with the time-limits for initial written pleadings established by ICJ in context with the case concerning the Application of the Interim Agreement of 13 September 1995 filed by the Republic of Macedonia. Once it was received, the document via the Macedonian Embassy in The Hague was sent to relevant state institutions in the country, Dimitrov told MIA.
Written pleadings remain confidential until the start of oral proceedings and as a result he says he cannot comment their contents.
- Given the regulations of UN’s principal judicial organ in this stage written pleadings are not available for the public taking into consideration the state interests of the Republic of Macedonia, I am not in a position to comment the contents or to give any details surrounding the contra-memorial, says Ambassador Dimitrov.
He states that intensive consultations between relevant institutions and experts in the Macedonian team are to be held in the days to come to set up a stance in relation to future steps.
- The next stage of the case i.e. whether there will be another series of written pleadings or the parties will go directly to oral proceedings will be determined by the International Court of Justice taking into account the views of the parties, Dimitrov says.
On Tuesday, a day before the time-limit, Greece presented its counter-memorials at International Court of Justice in the Hague regarding the lawsuit filed by Macedonia. The counter-memorial was filed by Greece’s agents at the proceedings, Ambassador Georgios Savvaidis, Foreign Ministry legal counselor Maria Telalian, and a team of ministry diplomats and legal experts assigned to the case. Greece’s written response categorically rejects all of Macedonia’s arguments, presenting legal, political, and historical counter-arguments and points of reference.
Macedonia submitted its evidences backing up the suit on July 20, 2009, after which Greece had 6-month deadline to prepare its defense, which expires tomorrow.
Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki and Ambassador in Netherlands Nikola Dimitrov are Macedonia’s representatives, accompanied by Croatian lawyer Budislav Vukas as ad hoc judge. Athens University professor Emmanuel Rukunas will be Greece’s ad hoc judge.
Macedonia took Greece before the International Court of Justice in November 17, 2008. Skopje argues that Athens violated the United Nations-sponsored 1995 Interim Accord signed by both sides by practically blocking its neighbor from joining NATO in April. According to the accord, Athens obliged not to block Skopje from entering international organizations as long as it is done under Macedonia’s UN provisional reference, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM.
- We have serious arguments and I believe the completion of this process before the Court in The Hague would impose a responsibility for honoring the Interim Accord. We plan to finish this process successfully without an alternative, FM Antonio Milososki recently stated.
Athens has announced that its defense will be based on the fact that there was no veto at the Bucharest summit, but a consensus between NATO members to postpone the accession of Macedonia until name row settlement is reached. Greece claims it has counter arguments proving that Macedonia was the party that breached the Interim Agreement.
Given previous cases at the ICJ, proceedings for such cases may last up to several years. Verdicts reached by the Court are final and legally binding and the UN Security Council is responsible for their implementation and observance. Established in 1945, ICJ has settled 25 international disputes thus far.
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