International Court of Justice rules in favor of FYROM in name dispute / NATO entry veto. Greece responds.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Monday that Greece wrongly blocked the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in a dispute over the use of the name "Macedonia." Greece objects to FYROM's use of "Macedonia" out of concern that the country will use the moniker to make claims to regions of Northern Greece that also are known by the name Macedonia. Greece vetoed FYROM's attempt to join NATO in 2008. The ICJ ruled 15-1 that Greece violated the Interim Accord of September 13, 1995, in which they agreed not to veto the FYROM's bid to join NATO while the issue over the FYROM's name was being negotiated. The ICJ found that Greece breached its "obligation not to object to the [FYROM]'s admission to or membership in NATO" under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord. The ICJ order may be a largely symbolic victory for FYROM because the court did not sanction Greece, nor did it order the country to refrain from taking similar action in the future.

Greece's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement calling for the FYROM to continue negotiations in cooperation with the UN to resolve the longstanding naming conflict. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Greece "will continue to negotiate in good faith [and we] hope that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will come in these negotiations in good faith, as the issue of the name can be resolved only through negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations."

The ICJ ruled on Dec 5 that Greece was in violation of the interim agreement when it vetoed the accession of FYROM into NATO


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In a brief statement following the ruling, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen took note of the decision, but declared that the order "does not affect the decision taken by NATO Allies at the Bucharest summit in 2008 ... an invitation will be extended to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached."

Greek Foreign Minister Dimas emphasises importance of NATO stance on FYROM accession

The doors of both NATO and the European Union "remain open as soon as the candidate countries fulfill the criteria set by the two organisations," Greece 's Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas stressed on Thursday, underlining that it was up to the countries themselves to exploit this positive message.

Commenting on the ruling issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case brought against Greece by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Dimas emphasised the importance of NATO's common position on the issue of accepting FYROM in the Alliance , which he said reaffirmed the unanimous decisions taken by NATO member-states in Bucharest , Strasbourg and Lisbon .

The foreign minister noted that the last three days were crucial for Greek foreign policy issues and that the country had successfully tackled difficult situations. He especially underlined three points that he said must be clear to all sides concerning the name dispute with FYROM.

Dimas stressed that Greece must remain dedicated to a swift resolution of the name issue via negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. He noted that a solution would allow the two countries to fully exploit the potential of their relations, boosting regional cooperation and European integration in the region.

He also underlined that the name issue could not be resolved "tangentially", something also confirmed by the ICJ ruling that called on the two sides to negotiate in good faith.

"It is a matter of political will and I repeat that Greece has this. I hope that the FYROM government will display the same will," he added.

Dimas repeated that Greece will continue to do its utmost to promote the completion of European integration in the region and announced that Athens would be undertaking initiatives in this direction in the coming months, as part of the preparation for Greece 's EU presidency.

"We would like the active participation of all our partners in the western Balkans in this effort," he said.

Source: The Jurist and ANA/MPA

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