Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
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Overview of the case
On 17 November 2008, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia filed in the Registry of the Court an Application instituting proceedings against the Hellenic Republic in respect of a dispute concerning the interpretation and implementation of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995. In particular, the Applicant sought to establish that, by objecting to the Applicant’s admission to NATO, the Respondent had breached Article 11, paragraph 1, of the said Accord, which provides that:
“Upon entry into force of this Interim Accord, the Party of the First Part agrees not to object to the application by or the membership of the Party of the Second Part in international, multilateral and regional organizations and institutions of which the Party of the First Part is a member; however, the Party of the First Part reserves the right to object to any membership referred to above if and to the extent the Party of the Second Part is to be referred to in such organization or institution differently than in paragraph 2 of United Nations Security Council resolution 817 (1993).”
In paragraph 2 of resolution 817, the Security Council recommended that the Applicant be admitted to membership in the United Nations, being “provisionally referred to for all purposes within the United Nations as ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ pending settlement of the difference that has arisen over the name of the State”. In the period following the adoption of the Interim Accord, the Applicant was granted membership in a number of international organizations of which the Respondent was already a member. The Applicant’s NATO candidacy was considered in a meeting of NATO member States in Bucharest (hereinafter the “Bucharest Summit”) on 2 and 3 April 2008 but the Applicant was not invited to begin talks on accession to the organization. The communiqué issued at the end of the Bucharest Summit stated that an invitation would be extended to the Applicant “as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached”.
In its Judgment of 5 December 2011, the Court first addressed the Respondent’s claim that the Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case and that the Application was inadmissible for several reasons. The Court upheld none of those objections and concluded that it had jurisdiction over the dispute and that the Application was admissible. Turning to the merits of the case, the Court considered whether the Respondent objected to the Applicant’s admission to NATO, within the meaning of the first clause of Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord. In the view of the Court, the evidence submitted to it demonstrated that through formal diplomatic correspondence and through statements of its senior officials, the Respondent had made clear before, during and after the Bucharest Summit that the resolution of the difference over the name was the “decisive criterion” for the Respondent to accept the Applicant’s admission to NATO. The Court therefore concluded that the Respondent had objected to the Applicant’s admission to NATO, within the meaning of the first clause of Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord.
The Court then considered whether the Respondent’s objection to the Applicant’s admission to NATO at the Bucharest Summit fell within the exception contained in the second clause of Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord, finding that it did not.
The Court thus concluded that the Respondent had failed to comply with its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord by objecting to the Applicant’s admission to NATO at the Bucharest Summit. It also rejected the Respondent’s alternative arguments that its objection had been made in response to the Applicant’s breaches of the Interim Accord.
As to possible remedies for the violation by the Respondent of its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord, the Court found that a declaration that the Respondent had violated its obligation not to object to the Applicant’s admission to or membership in NATO was warranted and that such finding constituted appropriate satisfaction. The Court did not consider it necessary, however, to order the Respondent, as the Applicant requested, to refrain from any future conduct that violated its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.