Recent days have seen a re-emergence of the issue of a Greek withdrawal from the Interim Accord. In fact, the ‘failure’ of the Karamanlis and Papandreou governments to withdraw from the Interim Accord with FYROM has been called “criminal neglect of national interest”. This view was expressed in November of 2008, seven months after NATO’s Bucharest summit and following the FYROM government’s application to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. According to the argument put forth at that time, even though Greece did not exercise its veto in Bucharest, “it would very probably have to do so at future meetings,” in “formal violation of the Interim Accord.”
The use of the word “criminal” does create a sensation, but it is nevertheless groundless. Let’s look at what withdrawal from the Interim Accord would actually mean:
1. The Interim Accord determines the framework for bilateral relations between the two countries. Based on it, Greece recognized FYROM, established diplomatic relations with it and regulated a number of practical issues for the normalization of Greek-FYROM relations. Thus, a withdrawal from the Accord would require negotiation of a new agreement on the aforementioned issues, though under the shadow of the deterioration in relations that would result from a withdrawal.
2. It would mean Greece’s calling into question the negotiation process at the UN for the resolution of the FYROM name issue. Moreover, UN Security Council Resolutions 817 and 845 (1993), which provide for the negotiations, have been incorporated into the Interim Accord. The negotiations started only when the Accord had been completed and two years had passed since the passing of Resolutions 817 and 845. A withdrawal would give the impression – however false – that Greece was no longer the constructive side, in contrast with the policy it has exercised consistently since 1995.
3. The recommendation for withdrawal is based on the view that Greece would, in the end, violate the Interim Accord. But this is not the case, as confirmed by the unanimous and collective decisions taken by NATO – at the highest level – in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
4. The Interim Accord ceases to be in effect one year after written withdrawal. Thus, to avoid any theoretical danger, the withdrawal would have to have been carried out at least a year before FYROM made its application. But there would be no reason for such an issue to arise either before or after Bucharest, where the Alliance decided unanimously that FYROM would be invited to join NATO only after the resolution of the name issue.
- 5. A withdrawal from the Interim Accord after the application was made to the ICJ would undoubtedly have had a negative impact on the judicial process.
According to the provisions of the Interim Accord, the two countries retain the right to withdraw from the Accord. However, decisions on foreign policy matters of such weight cannot be considered from a ‘public relations’ point of view; rather, they require deep, careful and thorough analysis of the facts, the state of affairs and the repercussions such decisions would have for our country’s interests.
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