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Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)

2011 I.C.J. 644

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Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)

International Court of Justice

2011 I.C.J. 644

Facts

In 1992, part of the former Yugoslavia applied to join the United Nations as the “Republic of Macedonia.” Greece (defendant) objected because, geographically, Macedonia includes parts of Greece. The U.N. admitted the country provided it called itself “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (plaintiff) (FYRM) for all U.N. purposes until the name dispute was settled. However, FYRM was not successful in joining U.N.-affiliated organizations to which Greece already belonged, and Greece imposed trade restrictions against it. In 1995, the countries entered an interim accord (IA) requiring FYRM to take a purportedly Greek symbol off its flag, and Greece agreed not to block FYRM’s joining affiliated groups. But when FYRM applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2008, Greece objected. FYRM brought an action in international court, claiming Greece had breached the IA. Greece claimed that its comments were not true objections, but diplomatic correspondence and statements by senior Greek officials showed that the ongoing name dispute prevented FYRM’s admission to NATO. Greece argued that FYRM had continued to use the symbol from the flag in other ways in breach of the IA, which relieved Greece’s treaty obligations pursuant to Article 60 of the 1969 Vienna Convention. FYRM had removed the symbol from its flag, but an army regiment used the symbol until it disbanded in 2004. Some private individuals also continued to use the symbol in publications or public displays. FYRM countered that it had no notice of those continuing uses or of the alleged breach until Greece blocked its NATO admission.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning

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