UN's highest court to rule on Macedonia's name
The UN's highest court will rule early next month on a decades-long spat between Greece and Macedonia over the former Yugoslav republic's name, the court said Thursday.
Since 1991, Athens has been blocking its neighbour's international recognition under the name "Macedonia", saying it belongs exclusively to its own national heritage.
"On December 5, the International Court of Justice, the principle judicial organ of the United Nations, will deliver its judgment in the case" concerning the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia versus Greece, the ICJ said in a statement.
Judgement will be handed down in a public hearing at 10:00am (0900 GMT) at the Hague-based court's headquarters at the Peace Palace. Hearings were held from March 21 to 30, the statement said.
Macedonia lodged a complaint before the ICJ in November 2008, asking judges to order Greece to stop objecting to its NATO membership or that of "any other international, multilateral and regional organisations and institutions."
In 2008 Greece blocked Macedonia's NATO invitation and one year later prevented the EU from starting accession talks with Skopje despite recommendations from the European Commission.
Greece alleges that use of the name Macedonia suggests a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name while Skopje maintains that changing the name would be a denial of its own national identity and language.
Macedonia was admitted to the UN in 1993 under the provisional name of the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".
More than 120 countries including Russia and the United States, however, have recognised the Balkan country under the name of "Republic of Macedonia."
Established in 1945, the ICJ is the UN's highest judicial organ and settles disputes between states. It is the only one of the six main UN bodies not located in New York.
© 2011 AFP