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ICJ rules Greece wrongfully blocked FYROM bid to join NATO over name

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ruled [text, PDF] on Monday that Greece wrongly blocked the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] 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 [JURIST comment] 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 [official website, in Greek] released a statement [text] 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 w]e 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." In a brief statement [text] following the ruling, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen [official profile] 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."

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