Blog Conclusions of the Greek public hearings at the International Court of Justice

Conclusions of the Greek public hearings at the International Court of Justice

Posted by Author on in Blog 49

FYROM’s claim is beyond the Court’s jurisdiction as established by Article 21, paragraph 2, of the Interim Accord, whether it is interpreted, as the FYROM  originally proposed, as precluding any case which concerns - “directly or indirectly” the name issue, or whether, as the FYROM alternatively proposes, it is read as precluding any case which would resolve the difference over the name. Greece has demonstrated that the FYROM’s claim, in requiring judgment of the lawfulness of actions by NATO and by its individual members collectively, is inadmissible. Greece has also demonstrated that the FYROM’s claim, in seeking a remedy which a judgment cannot provide, is beyond the inherent competence of the Court.

Greece has demonstrated that, properly read, the actions attributed to Greece by the FYROM did not constitute an objection. This is not because Greece was supposed to support the FYROM’s membership in NATO in 2008; for reasons stated at the time and in applying the well known NATO criteria and requirements for membership it was not. It is also because the admission process to NATO is a consensus one based on consultation, with neither vote nor veto. Greece notes....

 that the word “consultation” did not pass counsels’ lips last week or on Monday, not once. The Bucharest decision was a collective one. Greece participated in the consultation process, and it expressed its views. But this is something different from objecting. In any case Greece was not obliged by the Interim Accord to support the application of the country in question to join NATO, but this appears not to be the point of dispute before the Court. Moreover, the onus is on the FYROM to establish a breach of treaty; the FYROM has not proved that Greece objected.  Greece would stress in this regard the only official statement by NATO at Bucharest on 3 April 2008. That unchallenged statement, committing both the Alliance and its members collectively, is the text of its Summit Declaration which, in paragraph 20, provides clearly and unequivocally the terms and conditions for the FYROM’s future membership of the Alliance. This Declaration was repeated in all successive NATO Summit declarations and communiqués, word by word. That was the Bucharest decision and it was not, of course, dictated by Greece.

Even if Greece had objected, the FYROM’s constant strategy - acknowledged by President Crvenkovski in 2008 - of seeking to undermine the interim situation created by the Interim Accord, of failing to negotiate in the resolution of the name difference in good faith, as well as other breaches of the Interim Accord, would have entitled Greece to “object”, whether on the ground of: 
(a) the safeguard clause of Article 11, paragraph 1; and 
(b) the law of treaties; or 
(c) the law of countermeasures; 
which both reflect the exceptio principle. 
Furthermore, even if Greece were found to have objected in contravention of Article 11 of the Interim Accord, it would have been entitled to do so under Article 22, in exercise of its rights and duties arising under the North Atlantic Treaty.

FYROM’s claim has put the Court in an awkward position. Both the Interim Accord and the Security Council has resolved that the difference over the name disturbs regional peace and should be resolved by negotiation under the auspices of the Secretary-General. FYROM, in bringing this case to the Court, is continuing its policy of seeking to subvert the procedure required by the Interim Accord and to secure a de facto resolution of the difference over the name. The Court should, accordingly, reject the FYROM’s claim both as to jurisdiction and the merits.

In 1995 Greece had a strategic choice to make; it made it and has honoured it since. Greece committed itself to the negotiated resolution of the name issue pursuant to Security Council resolutions 817 and 845 (1993). Since then, Greece has made many efforts and concessions, even to accepting in 2007 a composite name, as a basis for a compromise solution, that would include the term “Macedonia” with a geographical qualifier. That solution was rejected by the FYROM. In these last years, FYROM has brought these negotiations to a dead end, by insisting, as the Court itself witnessed in the Agent’s statement, on the use of its contested name. He said, summarily, that “it was not a choice”. But it is a choice, a choice to violate its international legal commitments and to try to use the Court as a means for violating the Interim Accord. This is not only inconsistent with Article 5 of the Interim Accord, it also endangers regional security and the maintenance of good neighbourly relations between the two countries and the region as a whole. For these reasons Greece hope that Court wisdom will conduce to and not stand in the way of such a resolution, and will assist the Parties to help themselves in ways quite other than those proposed by the FYROM’s legal team last Monday.

  1. Carol
    Judicial decisions are often incomprehensible, primarily because they are made by human beings, and it is impossible to guess the ICJ's conclusions. It is clear, however, that if the court rules unreservedly for the FYROM, the Skopje Government will withd
    April 1, 2011