Links

Site search
Document search
Contact

The Court

History
Members of the Court
Presidency
Chambers and Committees
Judges ad hoc
How the Court Works
Financial Assistance to Parties
Annual Reports

The Registry

Registrar
Organizational Chart of the Registry
Texts governing the Registry
Library of the Court
Employment
University traineeship program
Internships
Procurement

Cases

List of All Cases
Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders

Basic Documents

Charter of the United Nations
Statute of the Court
Rules of Court
Practice Directions
Other Texts

Jurisdiction

Contentious Jurisdiction
Advisory Jurisdiction

Press Room

Press releases
Calendar
Media Services
Multimedia
Frequently Asked Questions

Practical Information

Directions
Visits
Links
Frequently Asked Questions

Publications

Introduction

Permanent Court of International Justice

Series A: Collection of Judgments (1923-1930)
Series B: Collection of Advisory Opinions (1923-1930)
Series A/B: Collection of Judgments, Orders and Advisory Opinions (from 1931)
Series C: Acts and documents relating to Judgments and Advisory Opinions given by the Court / Pleadings, Oral Arguments and Documents
Series D: Acts and Documents concerning the organization of the Court
Series E: Annual Reports
Series F: General Indexes
Other documents


Français

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

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 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”.

By an Order of 20 January 2009, the Court fixed 20 July 2009 as the time-limit for the filing of a Memorial by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and 20 January 2010 as the time-limit for the filing of a Counter-Memorial by Greece. By an Order of 12 March 2010, the Court authorized the submission of a Reply by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and a Rejoinder by Greece. It fixed 9 June 2010 and 27 October 2010 as the respective time-limits for the filing of those pleadings.

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.

In respect of the first objection raised by the Respondent, the Court did not find that the dispute concerned the difference over the name of the Applicant referred to in Article 5, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord and that, consequently, it was excluded from the Court’s jurisdiction by virtue of the exception provided in Article 21, paragraph 2. With regard to the second objection, the Court considered that the conduct forming the object of the Application was the Respondent’s alleged objection to the Applicant’s admission to NATO, and that, on the merits, the Court would only have to determine whether or not that conduct demonstrated that the Respondent had failed to comply with its obligations under the Interim Accord, irrespective of NATO’s final decision on the Applicant’s membership application. In respect of the third objection, the Court observed that the Applicant was not requesting it to reverse NATO’s decision in the Bucharest Summit, but to determine whether the Respondent had violated its obligations under the Interim Accord as a result of its conduct. It concluded therefore that a Judgment of the Court would be capable of being applied effectively, because it would affect the Parties’ existing rights and obligations under the Interim Accord, contrary to what had been alleged by the Respondent. As regards the fourth and last objection raised by the Respondent, the Court did not uphold the argument that the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court would interfere with ongoing diplomatic negotiations mandated by the Security Council concerning the difference over the name and thus would be incompatible with the Court’s judicial function. The Court noted that the Parties had included a provision conferring jurisdiction on the Court (Art. 21) in an agreement that also required them to continue negotiations on the dispute between them over the name of the Applicant (Art. 5, para. 1). It took the view that, had the Parties considered that a future ruling by the Court would interfere with diplomatic negotiations mandated by the Security Council, they would not have agreed to refer to it disputes concerning the interpretation or implementation of the Interim Accord.

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. The Court considered that there was no indication that the Parties had intended to exclude from Article 11, paragraph 1, organizations like NATO which follow procedures which do not require a vote. The Court noted that the question before it was not whether the decision taken by NATO at the Bucharest Summit with respect to the Applicant’s candidacy had been due exclusively, principally, or marginally to the Respondent’s objection, but whether the Respondent, by its own conduct, had not complied with the obligation not to object contained in 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 turned to the question 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. The Court noted that the Parties agreed that the Applicant intended to refer to itself within NATO, once admitted, by its constitutional name, not by the provisional designation set forth in resolution 817. It considered, however, that the Respondent did not have the right to object to the Applicant’s admission to an organization based on the prospect that the Applicant would refer to itself in such organization with its constitutional name. It found, in effect, that the Applicant’s intention to refer to itself in an international organization by its constitutional name did not mean that it was “to be referred to” in such organization “differently than in” paragraph 2 of resolution 817.

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.

The Court observed that, as an alternative to its main argument that it had complied with its obligations under the Interim Accord, the Respondent contended that the wrongfulness of any objection to the admission of the Applicant to NATO was precluded by the doctrine of exception non adimpleti contractus. The Court observed that, while the Respondent had presented separate arguments relating to the exceptio, partial suspension under Article 60 of the 1969 Vienna Convention and countermeasures, it had advanced certain minimum conditions that were common to all three arguments, namely that the Applicant had breached several provisions of the Interim Accord and that the Respondent’s objection to the Applicant’s admission to NATO had been made in response to those breaches.

In light of the analysis of the Respondent’s allegations that the Applicant had breached several of its obligations under the Interim Accord, the Court concluded that the Respondent had established only one such breach. Namely, the Respondent had demonstrated that the Applicant had used the symbol prohibited by Article 7, paragraph 2, of the Interim Accord in 2004. After the Respondent raised the matter with the Applicant in 2004, the use of the symbol had been discontinued during that same year. The Court found no breach by the Applicant of the second clause of Article 11, paragraph 1, considering that this provision does not impose an obligation upon the Applicant not to be referred to in an international organization or institution by any reference other than the provisional designation (as “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”). The Court also concluded that the Respondent had not met its burden of demonstrating that the Applicant had breached its obligation, pursuant to Article 5, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord, to negotiate in good faith with a view to reaching agreement on the difference over the name of the Applicant.

The Court then returned to the Respondent’s contention that the exceptio precluded the Court from finding that the Respondent had breached its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord. The Court recalled that in all but one instance (the use of the symbol prohibited by Article 7, paragraph 2), the Respondent had failed to establish any breach of the Interim Accord by the Applicant. In addition, the Respondent had failed to show a connection between the Applicant’s use of the symbol in 2004 and the Respondent’s objection in 2008 — that is, evidence that when the Respondent raised its objection to the Applicant’s admission to NATO, it had done so in response to the apparent violation of Article 7, paragraph 2, or, more broadly, on the basis of any belief that the exceptio precluded the wrongfulness of its objection. The Court concluded that the Respondent had thus failed to establish that the conditions which it had itself asserted would be necessary for the application of the exceptio had been satisfied in the case. It was, therefore, unnecessary for the Court to determine whether that doctrine forms part of contemporary international law.

With respect to the suggestion by the Respondent that its objection to the Applicant’s admission to NATO could have been regarded as a legitimate response to material breaches of the Interim Accord allegedly committed by the Applicant, the Court considered that the only breach which had been established could not be regarded as a material breach within the meaning of Article 60 of the 1969 Vienna Convention. Moreover, the Respondent had failed to establish that the action which it had taken in 2008 in connection with the Applicant’s application to NATO had been a response to the breach of Article 7, paragraph 2, approximately four years earlier. Finally, the Court did not accept that the objection to the Applicant’s admission to NATO could be justified as a proportionate countermeasure in response to breaches of the Interim Accord by the Applicant. The Court therefore concluded that the additional justifications submitted by the Respondent as an alternative to its main argument that it had complied with its obligations under the Interim Accord failed.

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. As the Court had previously explained, “[a]s a general rule, there is no reason to suppose that a State whose act or conduct has been declared wrongful by the Court will repeat that act or conduct in the future, since its good faith must be presumed” (Navigational and Related Rights (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2009, p. 267, para. 150).


This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.

Institution of proceedings

Written proceedings

Rejoinder of Greece

27 October 2010
Available in:
English French

Oral proceedings

Verbatim record 2011/5

Public sitting held on Monday 21 March 2011, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Owada presiding, in the case concerning Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2011/6

Public sitting held on Tuesday 22 March 2011, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Owada presiding, in the case concerning Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2011/7

Public sitting held on Tuesday 22 March 2011, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Owada presiding, in the case concerning Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2011/8

Public sitting held on Thursday 24 March 2011, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Owada presiding, in the case concerning Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2011/10

Public sitting held on Friday 25 March 2011, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Owada presiding, in the case concerning Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2011/9

Public sitting held on Friday 25 March 2011, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Owada presiding, in the case concerning Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2011/11

Public sitting held on Monday 28 March 2011, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Owada presiding, in the case concerning Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Verbatim record 2011/12

Public sitting held on Wednesday 30 March 2011, at 3 p.m., at the Peace Palace, President Owada presiding, in the case concerning Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Available in:
Original Language
Translation
(bilingual version) Translation

Other documents

Orders

Order of 20 January 2009

Fixing of time-limits: Memorial and Counter-Memorial
Available in:
English French Bilingual

Judgments

Summaries of Judgments and Orders

Summary 2011/6

Summary of the Judgment of 5 December 2011
Available in:
English French

Press releases

Press release 2008/40

17 November 2008
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia institutes proceedings against Greece for a violation of Article 11 of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995
Available in:
English French

Press release 2009/6

22 January 2009
Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece) - Fixing of time-limits for the filing of the initial pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 2010/5

16 March 2010
Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece) - The Court authorizes the submission of a Reply by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and a Rejoinder by Greece, and fixes time-limits for the filing of these pleadings
Available in:
English French

Press release 2011/4

9 February 2011
Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece) - The Court to hold public hearings from Monday 21 to Wednesday 30 March 2011
Available in:
English French

Press release 2011/8

30 March 2011
Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece) - Conclusion of the public hearings - Court to begin its deliberation
Available in:
English French

Press release 2011/35

24 November 2011
Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece) - The Court to deliver its Judgment on Monday 5 December 2011 at 10 a.m.
Available in:
English French

Press release 2011/37

5 December 2011
The Court finds that Greece, 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
Available in:
English French