Melbourne (Australia), Toronto (Canada) and Skopje (Macedonia)
5 December 2011
Not that any more incentive should be needed to stop negotiating your own name, but in a 15-1 vote, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled today that Greece violated the United Nations' sponsored Interim Accord (a 1995 "agreement" between Macedonia and Greece) when it vetoed the Republic of Macedonia's entry to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in April 2008.
Following the Greek veto, in November 2008, Macedonia lodged an application at the ICJ arguing that Greece had violated the terms of the 1995 agreement between the two countries. Under the accord, Greece pledged not to block Macedonia's entry into international organisations under the so called United Nations' provisional reference, "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".
Greece initiated the nonsensical "name dispute", objecting to Macedonia's name, in an effort to detract from its policy of non-recognition and persecution of its large Macedonian minority.
Ironically, it was not until 1988, when Greece realised that independence for the Republic of Macedonia was imminent, that it renamed "Northern Greece" to "Macedonia." Prior to this, Greece's policy was that Macedonia did not exist.
Despite Greece's intense propaganda campaign, more than 130 countries (over two thirds of all UN members, and including four of five UN Security Council members) have recognised the Republic of Macedonia.
While today's decision will be perceived by many as a victory for Macedonia, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) urge Macedonians to put the decision into some perspective. Though the judgement demonstrates that Greece cannot be trusted to abide by international agreements, it does not endorse the Republic of Macedonia's name, nor does it put an end to the disgraceful name "discussions" between Macedonia and its southern neighbour. Therefore to 'support' or 'welcome' today's ICJ decision, merely denotes an endorsement for the continued use of the demeaning and racist "FYROM" reference and an acceptance of the destructive 1995 Interim Accord.
The AMHRC and MHRMI have long demanded that the Macedonian government put an end to the name "negotiations" with Greece and today's ICJ judgment reinforces the obvious need for such a move. These "negotiations" are racist and contrary to the concept of human rights and indeed, the spirit of the UN charter itself.
Furthermore, MHRMI and AMHRC call on Macedonians worldwide to continue their support of the Our Name is Macedonia campaign, which demands that Macedonia immediately end all negotiations over its name.
Established in 1984, the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non-governmental organisation that informs and advocates before international institutions, governments and broader communities about combating racism and promoting human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world, are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment. For more information please visit www.macedonianhr.org.au, facebook.com/amhrc, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via +61 3 9329 8960.
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information: www.mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook.com/mhrmi, email@example.com, 1-416-850-7125.