THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The world court ruled Monday that Greece was wrong to block Macedonia's bid to join NATO in 2008 because of a long-running dispute over the fledgling country's use of the name Macedonia.
In a 15-1 ruling, the court found that Greece's veto breached a provisional 1995 deal under which Greece had agreed not to block Macedonia's membership in international organizations if it used the name "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," or FYROM, while the matter was submitted to further negotiations. More than 15 years later, mediation over the name is still ongoing.
The victory is partly symbolic, since the U.N.'s highest court did not fine Greece or even order it to refrain from similar moves against Macedonia in the future. But the ruling will make it politically difficult for Greece to block Macedonia's entry into NATO if it reapplies, and also lends moral weight to Macedonia's protests that Greece's moves to block it from joining the European Union are unfair.
The court said its own finding that Greece "has violated its obligation...(under) the interim accord, constitutes appropriate satisfaction," said presiding Judge Hisashi Owada, reading the written ruling.
The decision at the Hague court, formally known as International Court of Justice, does not resolve the fundamental dispute over the name, which although often seen as superficial by outsiders is a matter of deep national emotion and concern for both sides.............................