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Judgment rendered in the case Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995

Today the ICJ delivered its judgment  which is final, without appeal and binding on the Parties, in the case Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece). The press release can be accessed here, the judgment (52 pages) here, and a summary here. Judge Xue appended a dissenting opinion, Judge Simma appended a separate opinion, Judge Bennouna appended a declaration, Judge ad hoc Roucounas appended a dissenting opinion, and Judge ad hoc Vukas appended a declaration.

In the dispositif of the judgment the Court

(1) found, by fourteen votes to two, that it has jurisdiction to entertain the Application filed by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 17 November 2008 and that this Application is admissible;

(2) found, by fifteen votes to one, that the Hellenic Republic, by objecting to the admission of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to NATO, has breached its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995;

(3) rejected, by fifteen votes to one, all other submissions made by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

This judgment and the appended opinions of the judges are interesting in that they deal with a number of important issues under international law such as exceptio non adimpleti contractus (an exception or defense available in Roman law, according to which a party being sued for non-performance of contractual obligations can defend itself by proving that the plaintiff did not perform their side of the bargain), responses to material breaches of an agreement and countermeasures.

It remains to be seen what will be the effect of this judgment on the ongoing dispute over the name between Greece and Macedonia. To be completely frank, I am not sure that the three years of litigation before the ICJ have brought the countries or a solution any closer. Actually that might have had the opposite effect, whereby both parties dug in their heels. As I said in my previous post, hopefully the good will of the parties coupled with the efforts of high-profile international mediators and the pressure of the EU and the US can eventually bring about a solution to the ongoing row between FYROM and Greece over the name of the former and also pave the way for FYROM to start the process of joining NATO and the EU. Without good neighbourly relations though I am afraid that, with or without Greek objections, that path will not be an easy or a short one for Macedonia.

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