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Athens has breached interim accord, Greece's counter-arguments groundless, Macedonia's ICJ attorneys claim

23. March 2011. | 04:37

Source: MIA

Professor Sean Murphy from the George Washington University at Tuesday's hearings referred to Greece's "groundless" arguments that the temporary reference is a temporary name of the state and that the 817 Resolution bans the use of the constitutional name of Macedonia.

Athens has breached the 1995 interim agreement and its counter-arguments denying this are groundless, foreign legal experts representing Macedonia at the International Court of Justice in the Hague stressed Tuesday at a public hearing presenting arguments related to the lawsuit against Greece for violating the Article 11 of the bilateral accord by blocking Macedonia's accession to NATO at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest.

Professor Sean Murphy from the George Washington University at Tuesday's hearings referred to Greece's "groundless" arguments that the temporary reference is a temporary name of the state and that the 817 Resolution bans the use of the constitutional name of Macedonia.

"The resolution is a recommendation of the UN General Assembly considering the accession of a new member. There is no evidence that members of the UN Security Council believe that they are imposing a name of a applicant country for membership. On the contrary, in a letter from the Security Council on the Resolution's draft-text, it is being stated that 'it is not a case of imposing a name to the new member or introducing a fresh condition for membership, but it refers to the manner in which the country will be addressed considering its activities in the UN'," said Murphy, adding that Macedonia in correspondence with the global organisation uses its constitutional name since its accession till present day. It is the case, he says, also when communicating with NATO and other international organisations and in bilateral communication with Greece agreed under the memorandum on practical measures annexed to the interim agreement.

Murphy said that the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign state has been put into a situation in international organisations to be addressed with a name which is not its constitutional name, but a temporary one until a solution to the name dispute is found.

"It is the same as being invited to the club here in the Hague and be told that you cannot use your name and to be referred to temporarily as "Mr. X". What is the reason for this - a member of the club didn't like your name and wants you to change it," said Murphy, noting that Macedonia with its lawsuit was asking the Court to urge both parties to stick to what has been envisaged by the interim agreement.

Professor Pierre Klein from the Brussels-based Libre University, said in his address that Greece's arguments, according to which the subject of this case is NATO's decision at the 2008 Bucharest Summit, do not hold ground.

"At the end of the day, the important thing is whether membership criteria have been met. The subject of this case is not the NATO decision, but Greece's to block Macedonia's accession, which was adopted prior to the Bucharest summit. The blockade was announced, Greek politicians even bragged with it, which represents a violation of Article 11 of the Interim Accord", stressed Klein.

He added that Macedonia does not ask for a change in the NATO decision, but acknowledgment of the article violation.

"This will have an effect on the suit applicant through re-obtaining of the candidate-status without any obstacles or obstructions by involving other issues. The court's decision will have a legal effect, preventing threats of blockades in other organizations where the country applies for accession", said Klein.

University College London professor Philippe Sands focused on arguments that cannot justify the violation of Article 11 by Greece with alleged use of Article 22. Greece without any basis relies on this article in an attempt to justify the blocking of Macedonia's NATO accession taking into consideration that it protects country's rights as a member of the Alliance and its obligations stemming from the membership. Article 22 fails to define rights and obligations of the signatories of the interim accord, instead it refers to third parties, because it would dispute the existence of Article 11," says Sands.

"I've told everyone, in every possible way that the failure in settling the name row will hamper their invitation. Skopje will become a member of NATO after solving the name issue", said Sands citing a statement by Greece's then premier Kostas Karamnlis after the Bucharest summit, in which he fell short of presenting any legal arguments to back Athens' decision.

Sorbonne professor Geneviève Bastid–Burdeau, who is also part of the Macedonian team, closed today's public hearing. Speaking in favor of Macedonia's arguments on the lawsuit against Greece for breaching the Article 11 of the interim agreement, she focused on the document's benefit for the both countries and how significant it would be to the plaintiff for the court to establish that the mentioned article has been breached.

"The Article 11 has enabled Macedonia to join many international organizations, putting an end to the country’s international isolation," Bastid–Burdeau said.

Two verdicts are being required from the Court, the first one to establish Greece's breaching of the Interim Accord and the second one to order the country to not repeat same attitude when Macedonia will once again apply for NATO membership. For this purpose Greece should inform the Alliance members that it no longer stands against Macedonia's (membership) application under the interim reference.

"Greece's counterarguments that Macedonia is the one to breach the Interim Accord are ungrounded, as if it had been the case Greece wouldn't have to wait until now but could have filed a lawsuit earlier," the French law expert said.

On Monday, Foreign Minister and Macedonia's representative before ICJ Antonio Milososki at the first hearing said the case was simple and clear and that 'accords must be respected'.

Milososki was present at Tuesday's hearing in the Hague court as well as Greek Ambassador to Macedonia, Alexandra Papadopoulou.

Greece will present its counter arguments to the Macedonia's suit before ICJ on March 24-25.


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