Greece accuses Macedonia of expansionism

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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

3 Comments To This Article

  • Barry Drew posted:

    on 24th March 2011, 18:53:01 - Reply

    Greece uses Macedonia as an escape goat, knowing they are the most corrupt country in europe and the most in debt country in europe they distract Greeks by picking on Macedonia.

    The history is already written Alex: The World knows Macedonia was mostly (Slavic) Macedonians, Jews in Thessaloniki and Turkish until 1913. Everyone knows the Greeks had nothing to do with Macedonia until 1913, where they destroyed the then composition of Macedonia in order to make it Greek.

    Greeks look foolish to think that the Western countries buy into this, considering most of the Greeks in current Macedonia were from Asia Minor or Crete and have no connections to the ancient Macedonians. It is true, the (Slavic) Macedonians have lived in Macedonia longer and that cannot be re-written.
  • Will Smith posted:

    on 24th March 2011, 18:46:28 - Reply

    Having just spent the last 4 years working with Greeks, I now understand that they are as pigheaded about this issue as everything else in their lives. They should either get with the international program or crawl back into their ancient hole and quit trying to pretend they are a modern, advanced society - they aren't they are stuck farther in the past than any other nation in the Balkans. The Greeks have much bigger issues to worry about than what a small backwards nation wants to call, themselves. This issue is an entire waste of everyone's time and money. Who cares what the Macedonians in Skopje want to call themselves. Greece get a life!
  • Alex posted:

    on 24th March 2011, 18:26:37 - Reply

    Exactly what bearing on this case does the number of countries that recognized the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by their desired name have on this case?? All educated individuals know the residents for who they have always been. History cant be re-written to accomodate the future political aspirations of the former Yugoslavs.