Greece accuses Macedonia of expansionism
Greece accused Macedonia Thursday of "irredentist and expansionist ambitions", urging the UN's highest court to throw out a case concerning a dispute about the ex-Yugoslav republic's name.
"The irredentist propaganda of our neighbour is a major issue of concern for our country," Maria Telalian, legal counsel for Athens, told judges of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The two countries have been at loggerheads since Macedonia proclaimed independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, with Greece insisting that the use of the name Macedonia implies a claim on Greek territory.
Macedonia filed an application with the court in November 2008, claiming Greece was violating its rights by blocking its membership of NATO pending the resolution of the name dispute.
It asked the court to order Greece "to cease and desist from objecting in any way, whether directly or indirectly, to (Macedonia's) membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nor any other international multilateral and regional organisations and institutions of which (Greece) is a member".
But Greece said its neighbour had "irredentist and expansionist ambitions", has adopted "a nationalist tone", and was "increasingly provocative".
"Throughout their history, the Balkans have known violent conflict through ethnic confrontation," said Telalian, adding that further outbreak was a "constant concern".
She said the court had no jurisdiction in the case and should throw out Macedonia's request.
Macedonia was recognised by the United Nations in 1993 under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
More than 120 nations, including Russia and the United States, have recognised the landlocked Balkan country under its constitutional name: Republic of Macedonia.
The hearings continue until March 30, after which the judges will retire to consider their judgment.
© 2011 AFP