What’s in a name? Macedonia takes Greece to UN world court in dispute over its name March 25, 2011Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, Yunanistan.
Tags: Greece, Macedonia, un
Macedonia appealed to the United Nation’s highest court Monday to rule that Greece illegally vetoed Skopje’s NATO membership bid because of a long-simmering dispute over its name.
Greece claims its neighbour’s name, adopted after it broke away from Yugoslavia 20 years ago, implies claims on its own northern province which shares the same name, which Macedonia denies.
In the absence of a solution, Greece blocked its tiny Balkan neighbour’s bid to join NATO in 2008, and has threatened to do the same at the European Union.
“Regretfully our bilateral relations are burdened with the unfortunate issue of the difference over the name of my country,” Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Miloshoski told judges at the International Court of Justice.
Miloshoski said Greece’s veto of Macedonia’s NATO membership breached a 1995 deal under which Greece agreed not to block membership of international organizations if it used the name “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.”
Macedonia’s legal team says it is not seeking a ruling on what the country’s name should be, saying that issue is being tackled by separate U.N.-brokered mediation.
“This case has been brought to ensure that the respondent upholds one of its key obligations under the 1995 interim accord,” Miloshoski said. “Nothing more, nothing less.”
Greece is scheduled to present its side of the argument beginning Thursday.
The court’s president, Japanese judge Hisashi Owada, opened the hearing with a minute’s silence for the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that shattered his home country, saying the court expressed its “deepest sympathy to the Japanese people.”