On The “Prespa Agreement” and Beyond by Professor Dr. Gordana Siljanovska Davkova

Author: Professor Dr. Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, Law School “ Iustinianus Primus,” University of Ss “Cyril and Methodius”- Skopje 

Original paper was published in Macedonian on October 11, 2018 and can be found by clicking HERE.

AESOPIAN LANGUAGE, EXPANDED REACH AND ASSYMETRY OF THE AGREEMENT

The title of the “Prespa Agreement”: “Final agreement for the settlement of the differences as described in the United Nations Security Council resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993), the termination of the Interim Accord of 1995, and the establishment of a strategic partnership between the parties” is written in Aesopian language. It avoids the real issue of the Greek – Macedonian dispute  “the name of the State”, thus transforming the difference over the name into differences over many other issues! Namely, the UN Security Council resolution 817 (1993) says that the applicant meets the criteria for UN membership, outlined in Article 4 of the UN Charter, but notes that “a difference has arisen over the name the name of the state, which needs to be resolved in the interest of maintenance of peaceful, good-neighborly relations in the region. Because of this, it recommends to the General Assembly “that the State whose application is contained in document S/25147 be admitted to membership in the United Nations, this State being provisionally referred to for all purposes within the United Nations as the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, “pending settlement of the difference over the name of the State “! From the perspective of international law, this “difference over the name” is a bilateral issue, with practical effects on third countries within the framework of the UN multilateral forum and in other international organizations. Outside of these forums, given the bilateral nature of the dispute, third countries are free to recognize the country under its constitutional name[1]. Therefore, within the very official name of the Prespa agreement we can see a desire to broaden the scope of negotiations. What happened with the position of UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, who, in 1995 to the Greek Press, said that the country itself de facto chose the name of this country. “The only particular here is that the neighbor stands against the name. But, however, they are the ones who will choose their name. Greece cannot choose the name. Greece can only say that it is against the name chosen by the other side. Of course, this issue is already solved in a certain way. Not even the UN is the one to choose the name. The UN can only admit a country as a full member. After they recognize it, they can deal with what to put in front of the representative of that country. That is their problem. In this case, they did not choose the name for the country, but say that only temporarily will address it as “former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia”. As I already said, they can decide to address us with “former British colony North America”. That is not our name just as FYROM is not the name of this country”.[2]

The same position was taken by prof. Skaric: “The name of a country is a name that comes from and is created by the people who created this country and live in it. The state created by the Macedonian people is called the Republic of Macedonia. The Macedonian people will never refer to their country with a name other than the Republic of Macedonia. We can never accept to change something that we’ve used for centuries, a name that has been carried by this state for more than 50 years, unlike the northern Greek province”. [3]

Also, Stevo Crvenkovski, who as Foreign Minister signed the Interim Accord in 1995, in an interview with journalist Slobodanka Jovanovska from the Dnevnik daily who asked him if there is “any sense to compromise over our constitutional name now”? “There is no sense and I’ve never heard of anybody who intends to do so”.[4]

And this is how Ljubomir Frckoski saw the possible solution: “…If we use the dual formula, we don’t have to change our name, we gain the use of our name internationally, we only need to agree on a name to use with Greece. That is the way out. There is no way out without the dual formula”. [5]

INTERFERENCE IN INTERNAL MATERS OF REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA AND IMPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES 

The treaty goes beyond the framework set in the UNSC resolution 845 (1993), which recalling its resolution 817 (1993) encourages Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to continue to cooperate with the Co-chairmen of the Steering Committee of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia in order to arrive at a speedy settlement of their difference. But as I have already mentioned, “Final Agreement” is an agreement for the “settlement of differences” and in it, the differences on the name have become “differences and negotiations on the Macedonian history, Macedonian identity, Macedonian language, the constitution, culture, education, the political and administrative system, individual and civil rights and liberties…remembering me to those wear past times I thought were gone for ever.   

The agreement imposes amendments to the Constitution of the Second Party, a change to the constitutional name “the Republic of Macedonia” (nameless in the Agreement) and adopting the new name and its derivative adjectives in the Constitution, as well the manner, timeline and oversight over the implementation of the agreement by the First party – the Hellenic Republic, which constitutes direct Greek interference into internal matters of the Republic of Macedonia – a sovereign country founded on the principle of self-determination of the Macedonian people in 1944 and the ASNOM  (Anti-fascist Assembly of National Liberation of Macedonia). In this line, the first Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov, while speaking before the French Institute of International Affairs in October 1993 on the future of “Macedonia and the New Europe”, said “the right to a people to use its own name is natural and inalienable”. [6]

Interestingly, even though the agreement notes that with its adoption, the 1995 Interim Accord is ended, it doesn’t mention the 2011 verdict by the International Court of Justice in the Hague, that Greece violated Article 11 of the Accord when blocked “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” from being invited to join NATO at the 2008 Bucharest Summit.

The “Prespa” Agreement” ignores the Article 1 of the Interim Accord (1995) in which the First party recognizes the Second party as an independent and sovereign state, as well as Article 3 which binds both parties to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the other party. The “Prespa” agreement “forgets” that every state has an inherent right to a name and neglects that determination of the state’s name is the subject of its sovereign domestic jurisdiction. Actually, an unequal UN membership status for Republic of Macedonia with respect to other member- states severely violates the principle of equality of members (Article 2(1)) of the UN Charter) and derogates its juridical personality. It is inconsistent with the principles of juridical equality of states (see, GA Res. 2625(XXV) of 24 Oct.1970) and non-discrimination in representation and membership (UN Doc A/CONF 67/16 (March 14th1975).  To reiterate: Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) declares thatagreements that run counter to the mandatory norms of international law (jus cogens) are null and void!!

The agreement is asymmetrical, because with it the First party gains rights and the Second party gains only obligations – if we except the obligation for the First party that “upon notification by the Second party of the completion of the constitutional amendments and of all its internal legal procedures, the First party shall promptly ratify the Agreement” (Article 4 (f)) and “not to object to the application by or the membership of the Second party under the name and terminologies of Article 1 (3) of this Agreement in international, multilateral and regional organizations and institutions of which the First party is a member” (Article 2 (1)). It’s curious that this exact same article was included in the Interim Accord (Article 11 (1)), but it was in vain, because Greece violated it, the International Court of Justice ruled in Macedonia’s favor, but that decision was not followed with any legal or political consequences. 

THE FIRST PARTY (HELLENIC REPUBLIC) as GOLIAHT, VS THE SECOND PARTY (NAMELESS) as DAVID

No need to be a lawyer to realize that the First party has a superior role in this agreement, while the second is the subjected party, or rather the object of the agreement, even though both parties are internationally recognized entities and should be equal when signing an agreement!! In the run up to the referendum the Macedonian Government, its supporters, but also most of the foreign political representatives, like the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg many times have pointed out that accepting the “Prespa” Agreement is conditio sine qua non for Macedonia to join NATO in the next two years and to open EU accession negotiations. May I remind that in 2002 then NATO representative Craig Ratcliff, when asked whether, given that the Hellenic Republic is a NATO member, we could expect NATO and its members to take its side in our negotiations, responded that: “NATO is not in a position to support Greece in this dispute. It’s not a NATO problem. It’s a Greek problem. This dispute can be resolved with respect for the international law, with help from the United Nations and, of course, with assistance from the two countries involved in it”.[7]

A WIN – LOSE, INSTEAD OF A WIN – WIN NATURE OF THE AGREEMENT

The “Prespa” treaty has a Preamble and three chapters. The first chapter, made of eight articles, regulates the name issue and related matters, as well as the good-neighborly relations. The second chapter is dedicated to the strategic partnership, the third chapter is about “settlement of disputes” and at the end, there are Final clauses. The strategic partnership is undoubtedly an important instrument in building of good-neighborly cooperation, but enhancing cooperation in a number of areas was also required in the 1995 Interim Accord. Legally, having in mind the nature of the dispute, I would prefer that the strategic partnership be regulated in a separate agreement, or several agreements, that would be signed by the relevant ministers, in accordance with the Law on signing, ratification and implementation of international agreements. In my opinion the second chapter is incorporated in the Final agreement for tactical reasons, to make it appear as a win – win solution, even though it is clear that it is a win – lose agreement between the First and the Second party, and it serves as alibi for the fact that it was signed by the Foreign Affairs Minister and not by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, who alone has the constitutional prerogative to sign agreements that would cover the first chapter. 

THE PREAMBLE

The asymmetric nature of the agreement is contained in the very first sentence of the Preamble, in which the First Party is the Hellenic Republic, which is a constitutional expression of the “Greekness” of the ancient history and its “continuity” from the ancient city – states, as well as the ancient Macedonian state, all the way to the modern Greek state from 1830 (?!), while the Second Party is “nameless”.  In the petition published in 2006 in the Greek daily Eleftherotypia, 56 Greek intellectuals announced they will refer to their neighbor as Macedonia… “We will call it the Republic of Macedonia, according to its constitutional name, which alone is legitimate and real”. [8]In the Prespa Agreement, even the temporary reference “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” from the UNSC Resolution 817 (1993) is not used, even though the Republic of Macedonia joined a number of international organizations and signed a number of treaties under its constitutional name, or that reference.  

WHO IS ‘PRIMUS’, AND WHO IS ‘SECUNDUS’ IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM

For the Hellenic Republic, the Agreement was signed by the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias, and for the Second (“nameless”) Party, it was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Dimitrov, which doubly violates Article 119 (1) from the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia according to which “international treaties are signed by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, in the name of the Republic of Macedonia”. It is clear that the President of the Republic of Macedonia, as in other states (including the Greek President, who is elected by the Greek Parliament) [9]is “primus” in international relations, even though he was completely ignored in the process of negotiations, which violated the Constitution. In paragraph 2 of the Article 119 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, it is noted that the Government of the Republic of Macedonia can also sign international treaties, when it is so determined by law, making it “secundus” in international relations. Article 2 (3) of the Law on signing, ratification and implementation of international treaties (1988) names the areas in which the Government can sign treaties, but this article neither includes, nor can include, the name issue!! We are faced both with “negotiorum gestio” act as well with an ultra vires act, because Mr. Nikola Dimitrov has overstepped his mandate, and has violated the Constitutional and legal prerogatives. Let me mention that there are neither constitutional provisions nor constitutional procedure outlined to change the name. We inherited the name of the nation and the state. This gives the name of the Republic the character of an inseparable element of the national and state identity.

HYPOCRISY AND CYNICISM: CITING THE UN CHARTER AND THE BAN TO INTERFERE IN INTERNAL AFFAIRS OF OTHER COUNTRIES, WHILE THEY WERE ALL VIOLATED

The Preamble to the Prespa agreement cites a long list of principles, goals and relevant international documents, including the UN Charter and the ban of meddling in internal affairs of states. Unfortunately, these principles and documents were not respected during the admittance process of the Republic of Macedonia in the UN, and they are not used as foundation for the solutions proposed in the First part of the Agreement, because with the very Agreement Greece meddles in the internal affairs of the Second Party, including its Constitution, history, culture, nationhood, language… and demands that they are regulated with a bilateral international agreement, which is a situation unheard and unseen of in the international law and politics. Therefore, citing these principles in an Agreement, which violates them, is an act of cynicism and hypocrisy, outside of the realm of international law and out of jus cogens. 

Even though line 10 of the Preamble claims that the differences over the name are being resolved in line with UNSC Resolution 817 (1993), Resolution 845 (1993) and Article 5 of the Interim Accord (1995), it deliberately ignores the verdict of the International Court of Justice in the Hague from 2011, which decided that the First Party has violated article 11(1) of the Accord. 

Nobody can object to enhancing bilateral cooperation and strategic partnership between two neighboring countries, but they are only possible if there is mutual respect of each other’s legal sovereignty and of the sensitiveness and dignity of both parties, which is not the case in this Agreement, because it is focused not only on resolving differences over the name but deeply interferes in the sovereign rights of the Second Party, using its erga omnes approach, initiating changes to the historic and constitutional name – the “Republic of Macedonia” – and sweeps to the side the 74 years of Macedonian statehood, the right to self-determination of the Macedonian people used at the ASNOM( Antifascist Assembly of the People’s Liberation of Macedonia) in 1944, and the decision to constitute Democratic Macedonia as a state of the Macedonian people, which was foreseen by Dimo Hadzi Dimov back in 1923: “Macedonia had its first Ilinden… it will have a second Ilinden. This second Ilinden is approaching soon, it is coming…”[10]The right to self-determination is also affirmed in the first Constitution of the People’s Republic of Macedonia from 1946. In fact, the People’s Republic of Macedonia entered the Yugoslav federation of equal peoples and republics based on its right to self-determination, and used that right again when it left the SFRY in the process of its dissolution, [11]while the Macedonian language, declared as the official language of the state during ASNOM, was one of the three official languages of the Yugoslav Federation, along with the Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian language. [12]

ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS FOR UN MEMBERSHIP

Article 1 (2)is focused on the binding nature of the outcome of the name issue negotiations that were entered into on the basis of UNSC Resolutions 817 and 845, as well as the Interim Accord from 1995. But, it is not mentioned that Resolution 817 (1993) examined the application for UN membership S/25147 and found that the applicant meets all criteria for UN membership, based on Article 4 of the UN Charter!

By imposing additional conditions for UN membership on the Republic of Macedonia, which was forced to, a) accept a denomination and b) negotiate on its name (which is an inherent part of its legal subject), the UN violated Article 2 (especially sections 1 and 7 and Article 4 of the Charter, as well as UN resolutions 113/II from 1947 and 197/II from 1948, and the Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice from 1948, which determined that additional conditions can’t be imposed on candidates for UN membership, besides those outlined in Article 4 (1) of the Charter, which provide that: a) the applicant is a state; b) it is peace-loving; c) accepts the obligations stemming from the Charter; d) has the ability and e) has the will to implement these obligations!

The solutions included in the Final Agreement interfere in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state. Legally (from the point of international law, but also from the point of Macedonian national law) it is unsustainable that a new official name as well as the short name of a country is imposed with an international agreement! 

THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA BY A STROKE OF PEN BECOMES “REPUBLIC OF NORTH MACEDONIA” (NORTH MACEDONIA)

Article 1 (3notes thata) the official name of the Second Party (whose official name is not mentioned, even though it is being subject to change with the Agreement) shall be the “Republic of North Macedonia”, which shall be the constitutional name of the Second Party and shall be used erga omnes, as provided for in this Agreement. The short name of the Second Party shall be “North Macedonia”!!

I remind that the name “North Macedonia” was a German proposal from 1994, as reported by Greek media. Then Foreign Minister of Germany Klaus Kinkel presented a six points plan to resolve the name issue, which contained two possible names: New Macedonia and North Macedonia.[13]

This overlooks the fact that the name of a state, as an essential element of its legal individuality is an essential right, and as such, stricto sensu, it is an internal prerogative and not prerogative of other countries (Germany or the Hellenic Republic), or a multilateral organizations such as the UN. Professor Henkin says that there is no basis or practice in international law that would support the Greek position to condition Macedonia’s recognition with a name change. [14]Let me mention some historic examples: the allies divided Germany into a Western and Eastern Germany, but the respective constitutions called the states the Federal and Democratic Republic, and these were the names used to admit them into the UN. Vietnam was partitioned into a northern and southern part, but their constitutions called them the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Vietnam!! The same goes for North and South Korea.

Even though giving a geographic qualifier to the state is defended on the grounds that it needs to be distinct from the three administrative regions in Greece established in 1987, which are called the Eastern, Western and Central Macedonia, instead previous Northern Greece, the question arises if there is any need or logic to differentiate a state from a region? Isn’t it easier to simply use a prefix Greek Eastern, Western and Central Macedonia with relation to these regions? Why not to rename the Ministry for Macedonia and Thrace [15]into Ministry for Greek Macedonia and Trace, being aware that the first suggests that its mandate applies over the entire geographic and historic territory of Macedonia? Or, why not to return the old name of the airport “Micra”, or to put “Greek” before Macedonia” airport near Thessaloniki, knowing that we have changed the name of our airport “Aleksandar the Great in “Skopje airport”? [16]

A number of other questions arise: if there is a Republic North Macedonia but there is no Republic South Macedonia, what is the distinction we are trying to make? What’s happened with Aegean Macedonia in Greece? How about Pirin Macedonia, which is a part of Bulgaria? It would make sense to draw a distinction between two regions, but not between a state and a region, especially not by giving preferential treatment to the naming of the region. Is Greece really interested in geographic issues, or has “problem” with the Macedonian nation, and its “irredentism”?” In essence Greece objected both to the idea of the existence of a “ Macedonian nation”- considered a simple invention of the communist strategy in the Balkans- end to the use of the name and symbols of Macedonia…since a relevant part of historic Macedonia happened to be now integrated in Greece… [17] 

These “fears” are unreal, says the opinion of the Badinter Commission and the verdict of the International Court of Justice, which concluded that there is no irredentism. Don’t forget that Republic of Macedonia has already adopted the constitutional amendments in 1992, as precondition for EC recognition[18]. But, I think that it’s exactly the new name that can provoke irredentism on both sides, because if there is a northern entity, there is a southern entity, and there can be tendencies for unification, which is clearly visible in the historic examples as well as in contemporary developments, as noted by Oxford University professor James Pettifer. 

Methodically, there is no problem in the co-existence of the three Greek regions named Macedonia: the Central, Eastern and Western Macedonia, with the state called the “Republic of Macedonia”, because they are different entities. If co-existence is possible between the UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and Republic of Ireland, or UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and the French region of Bretagne, or between the Belgian province of Luxembourg and the state of Luxembourg, or between the region of Mongolia and the state of Mongolia, the United States of America with Southern and Central America, EU and European states which are not in EU… why couldn’t we have co-existence between the Republic of Macedonia as a state and the three Macedonian regions, incorporated in Greece in 1987? Have we forgotten that there was no problem during Socialist Federative Yugoslavia, when there was Consulate of Hellenic Republic in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in the center of Skopje.  The qualifier “Republic”, when placed in front of Macedonia, is differentia specifica of Macedonia as a state, from Macedonia as a historic and geographic entity and identity. But, ancient Macedonia is not exclusive property of Greece, but part of our shared cultural heritage of several states, among which Republic of Macedonia.  “Macedonia and Greece are able to come up with an intelligent way to share and protect their shared heritage, instead of taking each other to international courts”, wrote Professor Francesco Messineo.[19]

In science and in international relations we could not compare different entities as competitive, such as in this case where we compare a national and regional entity!! The Macedonian minority was and is reality in the Republic of Greece, confirmed by many reports of the League of Nations, Carnegie Commission, UN Commissioner for Minorities and others. If that was not the case, why and for whom was the ABECEDAR book published in Greece in 1925? Why is the Macedonian language specifically mentioned in the documents from the League of Nations imposed census held in Greece in 1920? [20]It’s a historic fact that in 1926, by decree, Greece renamed numerous towns, villages and rivers in northern Greece, which had Slavic names. The 1946-49 exodus of Greek citizens with Macedonian ethnic origin, during the civil war, is also a historical fact. The Republic of Greece is not an ethnically homogenous society, as Greek politicians insist, but is in fact, like all other Balkan societies, a heterogeneous one. Demands for linguistic rights from minorities in Greece, including the Slavic – Macedonian one, are scientifically examined by professor Adamantia Pollis [21], whose basic thesis is the unsustainability of the concept of Greekness as organic whole of the Greek ethnicity, the Greek church and the Greek state, and the necessity to have it overcome by ratifying the Framework Convention for Protection of Minority Rights and by signing the Convention on Regional and Minority Languages!! The Prespa Agreement, besides feeding the concept of “Greekness”, also feeds the concept of the Greek Megali Idea, and reinforces the idea of “Greek Macedonianism”, which is contradictio in adjecto.

Of course, I know that there is consensus mechanism for NATO membership, as well as for EU, but it is clear that this mechanism of decision making threatens their work with paralysis, due to the (ab)use of the veto right, so some member states are exploring the idea of introducing 2/3 majority instead of the consensus. In its renowned 2009 Enlargement Strategy Paper, the Commission recommended to isolate the enlargement process from bilateral inter- State disputes.[22]Despite this, the Council of Ministers, of Foreign Affairs was limited to “taking note” of the proposal. 

Indeed, I am aware that EU is not a state but a sui generis democratic and political system, faced with democratic deficit, based on off-balance relationship between the Parliament, the Commission and the Council, and that if there are no European demos, there is no EU democracy. Elitist decision-making is in the hands of the political and bureaucratic EU structures, and especially the governmental representatives of the member states, which prevents it from becoming a polity (Joseph H.H. Weiler).[23]

In this sense, there is indeed need for compromise with our neighbor, but it should not be imposed and should go against and beyond the international law framework. Changing the name of the Republic of Macedonia into the Republic of North Macedonia both for international and domestic use not only violates the law (domestic and international) but also is against good customs. It is unknown in contemporary politics and law to have a neighbor and/or an international organization ordering you to change the historical and constitutional name of your state, in a neo-colonial manner, in order to open your road toward NATO and EU, which at the same time keep insisting that for them, respect for the rule of law is modus vivendi and modus operandi! This proposed renaming constitutes Greek disrespect for our right to self-determination and sovereignty on one side, but also lack of self-respect and self-negation on our own part, as an equal international subject. Professor Crawford from the University of Cambridge warned, during the judicial proceeding in front of the International Court of Justice in the Hague over the Greek violation of the Interim Accord, that “the only rule in the broad international law is that each state can elect its now name, it can determine its own flag or national coat of arms. The Polish national anthem begins with the words ‘Oh Latvia’, and yet nobody objects to it”. [24]Professor Skaric wrote that the “Greek monopoly on the name Macedonia is untenable ”due to these reasons: first, it is for the first time in history that a part of the region of Macedonia came under the Greek jurisdiction in 1913, after the Second Balkan War, i.e the partition of Macedonia by the Bucharest Peace Treaty; second, the Republic of Macedonia, with its entire territory is located in Macedonia, while the northern Greek province, presently bearing the name of Macedonia, is only a small part of the overall Greek territory; third, the Macedonian people bears this name for centuries, while its state is indicated as Macedonian state more than 50 years, which is not the case with the northern Greek province. It is paradox that a province be given advantage in regard to one internationally recognized state! This absurdity is even greater under conditions when the request of Greece to change the name of the Republic of Macedonia have neither legal nor historical basis. Contrary to Greece, the Republic of Macedonia does not ask for monopoly over the name, although the historical and legal arguments are on her side. The Republic of Macedonia does not object that the northern Greek province is called Macedonia, the same like the Great Britain does not mind that the region of France is called Bretagne, or the Great Dukedom of Luxembourg does not object to the Belgium province of Luxembourg. But, the Republic of Macedonia minds very much that it is the only state in the history of the international relations whose admission in the United Nations is restricted by the change of its name. [25]

This Agreement, in the spirit of politisation of law, completely neglects the Opinion no. 6 of the European Community Arbitration Commission, which included five Presidents of Constitutional Courts (France, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Italy), led by Robert Badinter, then President of the French Constitutional Council, which unanimously recommended that the Republic of Macedonia is recognized as a newly independent state, under its constitutional name, and found the Greek objections as irrational. 

According to the Commission, “the use of the name Macedonia does not implicate any territorial aspirations against another country”! [26]Nevertheless, under Greek initiative, and a recommendation from the Badinter Commission, the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia amended its Constitution in 1992 (amendments I and II, affecting Articles 3 and 49). The first amendment declares that the Republic of Macedonia has no territorial pretensions towards neighboring states, while the second amendment obligates Macedonia to not interfere in the sovereign rights of other states or in their internal affairs! These are “additional” constitutional guarantees, because in Article 8, section (11) is already noted that one of the fundamental principles of the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia is “respect for the generally accepted norms of international law”!! But, what is constitutionally binding for the Republic of Macedonia, is not binding for Greece! Its Constitution has a clause allowing possible territorial changes by a majority vote of the total number of deputies in the Parliament (Article 27).

THE DISPUTE OVER OUR NAME: WAS AND IS A BLACK SPOT ON THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF EUROPE 

Let me remind to the statement of Danish Foreign Affairs Minister Uffe Ellemann – Jensen, whose country chaired the European Community in 1992 that the issue of recognition of the Republic of Macedonia remains a black spot of the consciousness of the EU. Some 26 years later, the same unfortunately had to be repeated by noted Oxford professor James Petiffer, according to whom EU and NATO morally bankrupted in the case of Macedonia, especially with the events surrounding the signing/forcing upon us the Prespa agreement, and he added that any decent Macedonian citizen should feel compelled to reject the agreement. [27]

UNIQUE ‘SOLUTION’ FOR CITIZENSHIP 

Article 1 (3-b) of the Agreement stipulates that the citizenship of the Second Party will be Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia, and as such it will be registered in all travel documents, instead of the current Nationality/Macedonian! This begs the question: why do we need to further explain “Macedonian” with “citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia”? The concept of citizenship appeared after the French Revolution and it gave the individual certain rights and obligations towards the state. Still, in French identity and travel documents, they name their “Nationality” as “French” and not “citizen of the French Republic”. The citizen is an individual with rights and obligations towards the state gained by birth (jus soli), blood (jus sanguinis) or through naturalization, and even non-citizens have civic rights. In this regard, some countries allow participation in municipal elections to long-term residents, based on the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe. They are not citizens, and yet can participate in the political life of the country.

Why should we try to come up with these ‘original’ ideas? The European Convention on Nationality uses the term “nationality” and in Article 2 (a) it says that nationality is a legal bond between the individual and the state and does not refer to his ethnic origin.  Obtaining the citizenship of a state is a precondition to enjoy your civic rights. “Citizenship is a general noun and refers to all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, regardless of their ethnic background. Identity documents are not a Thesaurus to include footnotes and explanations!! Official documents should always strive toward using the shortest possible solution.

But, if you feel compelled to punch against the real “danger” of association with the Macedonian nation, you will come up with hitherto unknown “European” administrative solutions!! If Greek travel documents simply refer to the nationality of the holder as “Greek”, just like the currently valid Macedonian documents do, why should we change our documents? There is a distinct Greek origin to this fear, because Greeks use the designation “Greek by gender” and the President of Greece must be a Greek citizen on his father’s side. [28]In this case, there is no need for additional distinction, because there is no Central, Eastern or Western Macedonian citizenship – all the Greeks, including those in these regions in our southern neighboring country have “Greek nationality”! Greeks jump to any opportunity they can get to undermine any mention of the Macedonian nation, even though the Greek people and Greek nation are frequently referred to in the Greek Constitution, often capitalized, while the Macedonian Constitution refers to the Macedonian nation only twice – in the Preamble and in Article 36!! It’s a historic fact that, in Yugoslavia, and in then Macedonia, the term “nationality” referred to the ethnicity. But, we heard the “Solomonic solution”, proposed by Mr. Ziadin Sela, leader of Albanian Alliance, who asked that “nationality” has to be followed with Macedonian, Albanian, Turk…and that the forward slash is followed by a description: citizen of North Macedonia! What becomes of the citizenship here?[29]Mr. Sela has Macedonian passport, which guarantees him “Macedonian citizenship”)! This is the principle used across the EU and the world. 

Greek politicians who authored this formula do not conceal the fact that it is a unique legal innovation. Messrs.’ Kotzias and Tsipras have several times explained that the Agreement does not recognize the ethnicity/nationhood of Macedonians, but merely expresses the right to self-determination of the citizens as individuals, all the while “forgetting” that besides the individual right to self-determination, the Organization of the UNITED NATIONS also acknowledges the collective right to self-determination – the right of the nation!! Speaking in the European Parliament, Greek Prime Minister Tsipras responded to a Greek member of Parliament, who inquired about the Prespa agreement, telling him it is a victorious agreement because the passports of their neighboring country will use the clarification “citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia” next to the Nationality: Macedonian”!! And for this Tsipras was rewarded with a very “European” parliamentarian applause! 

I would say that if the process of Western Balkans integration in EU is promoted and treated as “Europeization” it is distinctly non-European to have the Macedonian nationality de-europeanized, imposing unique citizenship solution. 

CAN A LANGUAGE ‘BE RECOGNIZED’ BY A BILATERAL AGREEMENT?

Article 1 (3-c) declares that the “official language of the Second Party shall be the ‘Macedonian language’”, as if a state can recognize the existence of a language in a different state by a political treaty! But then we see another “original” explanation – Article 7 (4) insists that this is a South-Slavic language! To facilitate pushing through this “compromise” before the Greek public, Prime Minister Tsipras explains that this is not his original “concession” but that it is a solution adopted by the “Third UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names, held in Athens in 1977, and described in Article 7(3) and (4) of this Agreement”. With this, Tsipras insists that this is an old ‘mistake/omission’ by the Greek right wing! What a “friendly, good-neighborly” subconscious message this is.

As we have already noted, the Macedonian language, as official language determined by ASNOM, has existed in all Constitutions of the Republic of Macedonia, but also in Federal Yugoslavia, from the first, written in 1946 to the last, in 1974!! Under pressure from the League of Nations and the Sevres Treaty, Greece has printed the ABECEDAR book and assumed the obligation to care about the linguistic rights of its “Slavic – speaking minority” (euphemism used for the Macedonian minority) in 1925 [30]and has used the Prilep – Bitola – Lerin dialect in the book, deliberately written in Latin and not Cyrillic script, which unfortunately never reached the Macedonian children because distributing this book would have meant recognizing the Macedonian people and language!! It’s bizarre to see the joy among some Macedonian politicians who claim that Greece has now finally recognized the Macedonian language!! What have we Macedonians come to, after all those generations of Macedonian linguists, opening of Macedonian language centers across the world, seminars on the Macedonian language, tons of books printed in Macedonian, the traditional Ohrid seminar on the Macedonian language, and the glorious Struga Poetry Evenings, not to mention the recognition of the Macedonian language in the United Nations…and now we have to be happy that in this Agreement Greece made compromise, recognizing the Macedonian language as the South Slavic language!

CAN THE MEANING OF TERMS “MACEDONIA” AND “MACEDONIAN” BE DETERMINED BY BILATERAL AGREEMENT?

Article 1 (3-d) explains thatthe terms “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” have the meaning given under Article 7 of this Agreement, which is direct interference in the sovereign rights of the Republic of Macedonia, because identity issues can not be subject of international or bilateral treaties, and they remain the prerogative of each nation, including the Macedonian one. National identity is a social and political construct, and the Macedonian state is an inevitable fact, a fait accompli. The Greek Constitution (Article 1-3) declares that all power stems from the People and exists for the People and the Nation. All Greek politicians, including Prime Minister Tsipras, have refused to recognize the Macedonian people and nation, both before and after the Prespa agreement, and only recognize the individual right of citizens of North Macedonia to self-determination! Adding to this their refusal to recognize the Macedonian minority in Greece, and the refusal to recognize the Macedonian minority in the treaty signed with Bulgaria, it raises the issue whether Greece really recognizes the Macedonian people and if there are no Macedonian minorities in Greece and Bulgaria (even though Macedonians were recorded in impressive numbers in censuses in Bulgaria from 1946 and 1956), we have to ask whether there will be Macedonians, a Macedonian people and Macedonian nation in the Republic of North Macedonia/North Macedonia? Or, will we face with fast and imposed constitutional denominational engineering, depriving the Macedonian people and nation from their fatherland and nation state, established in 1944, during the World War II.  Will parts of Macedonian history be stolen, disappear or changed by omission of important national and state events in the Preamble of the Constitution, and will we become not only multicultural society but also a ‘multinational state’, surrounded with strong nation and nationalist states who are openly interfering in the internal affairs of Republic of Macedonia, treated her as ‘terra incognita’.  Are we going back to “new” 1913 in 2019? 

LICENCE PLATES CODES

Article 1 (3 –e) regulates license plate codes and determines that the Second Party will use the NM code or the NMK code! This is yet another direct interference in domestic affairs of the Republic of Macedonia, in accordance with denomination and renomination of its political, legal and administrative system, violating both international law and national constitutional law. We hear manipulations from supporters of the agreement that the code will remain MK, but in fact MK becomes NMK! It is ‘similar’ but also a little bit different! When driving along European roads we will have to explain to curious foreigners which is this new, fair country, this “North Macedonia” which used to be the southernmost republic of former Yugoslavia, and until 1987 bordered with the province of “Northern Greece” on its southern side. Even geography experts will not know what to make of this, let alone legal experts! It is easy to say that it makes sense to use the new name for the license plate code, but this is all done under duress!

WHICH ADJECTIVE ‘SUITS’ TO THE NEW NAME?

Article 1 (3-f)determines that the adjective that will refer to the state and its institutions will be related to the new official name “Republic of North Macedonia” or “North Macedonia” for short, and when we refer to private entities and actors, unrelated to the state and the public institutions, are not established by law and do not receive any public financial support for activities abroad, and it will be in line with Article 7(3) and (4). This is an ‘ultra vires’ act and constitutes brutal interference in the national affairs of the Republic of Macedonia, contrary to international and national law, unfortunately ‘accepted’ by ‘our’ representatives and negotiators. I have already explained how our national institutions, when deprived of the adjective “Macedonian” are not only renamed but also denationalized, in the sense of the Macedonian demos, of course!! Their essence is actually expressed through the adjective. When speaking about the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Macedonian Opera and Ballet, the Macedonian Radio Television, these are not only state and public institutions – these are national institutions! The state does not create science, art and culture, the nation (demos), constituted of individuals – does! We have lived with adjective “Macedonian” for 74 years, and now, under pressure of Greece, supported by EU and NATO representatives, in the name of Euro- Atlantic integration we have to say: farewell to the most important adjective in our life, both private and public life. What’s happened with European values, or isn’t it value based community? Why do other states use their national adjective as prefix: the French Academy, Hellenic Academy, the Serbian Academy, the Albanian Academy and we can’t?  Does it make sense to have a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development when not all of Europe is in the European Union, but at the same time, not to have a Macedonian Popular or National Bank? If there is an Albanian Satellite Television Station (ALSAT), or an Albanian and Turkish National Theater in Macedonia, why to delete adjective Macedonian Television, Macedonian Theater, Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra? Is it normal to sacrifice the national characteristics for the sake of some regional entities in the neighboring country, which for 27 years threaten us with “ veto” political weapon, using Trojan’s horse? Does the state create art, science, and literature? No, indeed, the nation as demos, or the individuals are the creators!  

Tying the use of the adjective “Macedonian” to the funding of these institutions is an extremely dubious criteria. It is wishful thinking to say that with the changing of our name we will enhance our national identity, when we will not be allowed to use the adjective “Macedonian” to describe our national, state and public institutions funded by the state!! In fact, we are facing with denomination, denationalization and demacedonianization at a level that is unknown in contemporary international and bilateral relations. Greece ‘allows’ us to keep the current compound names of some cities that bear the adjective “Macedonian”, being part of our history, but at the same time has a problem with the existence of the Macedonian nation, which is reality! We can keep a city called Makedonska Kamenica, but not a Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences! It’s insulting when we, the people from whom the sovereignty derives are treated as ‘stake holders’ and the international community and Greek politicians as our state builders, while using the adjective ‘Macedonian’. 

It makes no legal sense and logic to have regions in Greece named Central, Eastern or Western Macedonia, who can freely use the adjective “Macedonian’ while the state Macedonia is not allowed to use it. There are hundreds of administrative regions carrying a name Macedonia, as well as towns in the United States and Hellenic Republic does not has problem with that. We are facing a strange story: to change the name because “Macedonia is Greek” and our name is a “threat” for Greece, on one side, and to do this in order to become a “European Macedonia”, NATO member and be part of the euro-Atlantic family, which will eliminates not only the security threat, but also the borders. Do they expect us to attack Greece and NATO?? Didn’t we allow NATO to hold military exercises at our Krivolak site, meant to show the public that NATO is protecting us? 

Honestly, after the Hague verdict in 2011, given the Greek defeat there, I expected Greece to suggest Macedonia to be admitted to NATO immediately, without any additional preconditions, just like the British House of Lords recommended last year, led by need for regional stability and geo-strategic reasons. And if the name is the ‘only’ problem there, we could also start the negotiations with EU, for the sake of peace, good-neighborly relations and democracy!  Let me remind the reader that Greece joined the European Union in 1981, with a decision of the Council, even though the Commission declared that it has not met the conditions of membership. 

The first name issue mediator Sir Robin O’Neil said that: “Greece knows that one day Macedonia will be internationally recognized under its constitutional name!! [31]But, we see that when it comes to awarding a date to open EU accession talks, there are procedures and Copenhagen membership criteria, but there are also additional criteria that apply only to us!! There were some proposals from European Parliament members and notable politicians that we should sign the Final Agreement, but that it should enter into force after Macedonia joins the EU?? Did Spain, Portugal, Romania and Bulgaria join the EU after meeting all the membership criteria? No. Democracy is best learnt in a democratic environment and not waiting for Mr. Godot in front of the “open” doors of NATO and the EU?! 

THE ETERNITY CLAUSE THAT WILL BAN US FROM REVERSING THE NAME “NORTH MACEDONIA”

Article 1 (3-g) insists that the name change is both binding and irrevocable (!?) and that the procedure to execute it will entail amending the Constitution as agreed in this Agreement, as if the Greek Government is a party that can propose amendments to our Constitution, and at the same time this bilateral international agreement is elevated to a rank above the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia! On top of it all, the Prespa agreement is imposed as an eternal (eternity clause) agreement, with regard to the constitutional changes that are proposed in it. This means that our new name will be used “forever”!  Yes, there are international agreements that contain such clauses. But this Agreement violates the right to self-determination, and the right of a people to elect its own name, flag and coat of arms!  Each agreement or legal norm stemming from such agreement that is in violation to international jus cogens principles is null and void, in line with Article 53 of the Vienna Convention. Let’s remember here that there was a ban to constitutional reviewing of the Greek royalist constitutions of 1911 and 1952 (which were both declared as ‘masterpieces’ and ‘perfect’ creations! Of course, having an eternal Constitution is impossible because the constitution – makers are not Gods from Olympus Mountain or monarchs who rule by the mercy of God!! In this sense, even though the Greek Constitution from 1968 banned the abolishment of monarchy, in 1974 the Greek people decided in a referendum to do just that and to introduce a republic under a new Constitution. It is extremely uncommon to have a bilateral treaty that binds the hands of future constitution makers in another state. Greek professor Evangelos Venizelos has said “the Government must work to implement the currently applicable constitutional order, and not to destroy it or replace it with another, counter to the Constitution, the Government must move within the confines of the Constitution and not move beyond them”. [32]Is this warning valid only for Greek Constitution, or for all constitutions? 

And what about our Government? We have a Government, which did not announce any constitutional changes in its Program, and the ruling parties, which election programs did not announce the changing of the constitutional name, and have no mandate and legitimacy to do so. During the parliamentary and municipal election campaigns, VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM promised that they will never accept a new name that can be used erga omnes and will never change the Constitution in order to change the name for national/internal use.  

‘QUI PRIOR EST TEMPORE, POTIOR EST IURE’ (THE FIRST IN TIME IS STRONGER IN LAW)

We are facing the paradox.For centuries, Macedonians have used personal names such as Macedon or Makedonka, have sung about Macedonia as their mother, daughter, or bride. Their dances perform fight for liberation and independence of their fatherland and motherland Macedonia. In many, many songs they have married to Macedonia, they mourn and hunger for Macedonia and they express readiness to die for Macedonia. Dreaming for Macedonia, they saw it as the nexus of their identity.  

I say this intending to show how important it was and it is the name “Macedonia” and the adjective “Macedonian” for our Macedonian identity. It’s an undeniable fact that the name Macedonia is definitely enshrined with the Macedonian nation building in nineteenth century as well as with creation of the Macedonian state during the Second World War, a state which has existed until today.

Contrary to this, in the Republic of Greece the name Macedonia has had for a long time at most a peripheral usage. “This name is used primarily for scientific purposes, tourism and information, but not for state or political goals. For example, until 1988 Greece never used the name Macedonia, in any official forum. Its northernmost province was called North Greece and not Macedonia. This province changed its name in 1988, with a degree from the Prime Minister, and not with a law or a decision of Parliament. Greek interest in Macedonian grew in 1977 with the discovery of the tomb of King Philip in Kutles/Vergina in the Aegean part of Macedonia by professor of art and archaeology from the Solun (Thessaloniki) University, Manolas Andronicus. And yet today, the word Macedonia absolutely dominates political speeches and in public media in Greece. An interesting fact is that in Skopje for a long time there was a Greek consulate, which never shied from using the official name of the state of Macedonia. The first time the Republic of Greece began to dispute the name Macedonia was in the beginning of 1992, at the time when the Republic of Macedonia was definitely establishing itself as independent and sovereign state. [33]

Today we have Greece which, until 1987, did not used the name Macedonia, demanding that we have to change the name not only for international use but also for national, internal use. If the name “Macedonia” was really so important for Greece, why it was not chosen as the name or part of the name of the state, knowing that Greece was the first state that declared independence from the Ottoman Empire? Because it entered the region of Macedonia in 1913 after the Balkans War![34]

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA IS ABOVE INTERNATIONAL TREATIES

The authors of this Final Agreement ignored Article 118 of the Constitution according to which international treaties ratified in accordance with the Constitution are part of a domestic legal order and cannot be changed by law. This means that international agreements are not above the Constitution. Indeed, in accordance with the Article 110 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Macedonia decides on the conformity of the Law on ratification of the Prespa Agreement with the Constitution, but it is calm under political pressure. The Agreement was not ratified in line with the Constitution – the process ignored Article 8 (3) in which, respect for the rule of law is declared as one of the basic values of the constitutional order of the Republic of Macedonia, because the Agreement has no constitutional basis and it did not take into account the “Law on signing, ratification and implementation of international treaties”, with regard to its articles on the signatories of the Agreement or with regard to the procedure being used. The Rules of procedure of the Parliament were not respected, because the President of the Parliament did not send the Law on ratification of the Agreement to the Foreign Affairs Committee, but to the European Affairs Committee that is not in charge for this matter.  Namely, it does not regulate harmonization of Macedonian laws with European directives (Article 135, paragraph 4 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament), intending to have it pushed through in a shortened procedure, needed in the case of harmonization with European laws. It was also done in order to avoid the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who is a member of the opposition. Thus, Article 188 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament was violated. The Law on Ratification of Prespa Agreement was enacted by simple majority of votes, even it envisages: the change of the name of the state, the change of the Preamble of the Constitution, as well as of Articles 3 and 49 of the Constitution! For comparison, in order to ratify an international treaty, the Greek Constitution requires for the law on ratification a three-fifths majority of the votes (Article 28, paragraph 2). But, we hear from Greek side that “Prespa Agreement “will be ratified by majority of 151 votes from the total number of 300 deputies.    

The Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia adopted the Law on ratification of the Prespa Agreement without the opposition being present, with 69 votes. But, the President vetoed the Law and didn’t signed the promulgation act, arguing that the Parliament didn’t reconsider the law, as needed in accordance with Article 75/2 of the Constitution. Namely, the parliamentary majority didn’t reconsider the law through the prism of long list of arguments for unconstitutionality of the Law, but just voted the law with absolute majority. The President refused to sign the law, thus enabling the law to be published and to enter into force.  

But, the parliamentary majority, nevertheless, decided to adopt the decision for referendum, neglecting the bare fact that there was no law it is based on. 

The decision was not passed in a referendum, held on 30 of September. Namely, Article 73/2 of the Constitution says: “The decision is passed in a referendum if majority of those voting have cast in favor of the same, on condition that more than half of the total number of voters voted.  But, the President of the Government instead to resign, decided to propose constitutional amendments in order to change the constitutional name! 

POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY IN SERVICE OF GEO-STRATEGY

The Greek political position imposed and accepted by the Macedonian political representatives was that the dispute would best be resolved by adding a geographic qualifier to the name of our country, in order to distinguish northern part of geographic Macedonia from Greek Macedonia! But, this is how the geography of the issue actually works: in Greece, there are three regions: the Central, Eastern and Western Macedonia (established in 1987 by a decree, to replace province of Northern Greece), often called merely “Macedonia” by the Greeks, while for Macedonians it was and is Aegean Macedonia as a geographic and historical fact; to the North of them, the state, named as “Republic of Macedonia”, established in 1944 on territory of Vardar’s Macedonia (which before the World War the Second, was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), existing as one of the six republics of Federal Yugoslavia (as Democratic, Federal, Socialist) for 74 years, that is now supposed to be called “Republic of North Macedonia”, which also contains geographic regions such as : West Macedonia, Central Macedonia, North West Macedonia, East Macedonia; in Bulgaria, there is a geographic region Pirin’s Macedonia and finally, a part of geographic Macedonia also resides in Albania, due to the partition of Macedonia with dominantly ethnic Macedonian population in 1913… 

I hope to be wrong but I fear that the Final Agreement of the name issue is far from reality and could in factbe the beginning of an endless list of new disputes because this bilateral geographical separation could cause actions and reactions from our neighbors who are, let me mind you, from the Balkans and have exercised ‘balkanization’!! 

Actually, the name dispute is both irrational and artificial. I don’t see logic to comparing and distinguishing a state from the region(s) because we’re talking about different entities. Maybe in art, comparisons like “eyes blue as the sky” are intriguing, but in international relations – comparisons between different entities are confusing.  There are several regions in Europe with the same names as some European states, numerous regions in the United States, in Australia, Canada and New Zealand carry names taken from England, France, but no problems. There are also several regions in USA with name “ Macedonia”.  Imagine if the states of South America would suddenly demand that the United States changes its name because there are many other American states besides those that are part of the USA. The same applies to the EU – not all European countries are part of the EU – many remain outside of the Union, but this is not an issue that is being raised.

RULE OF MEN INSTEAD THE RULE OF LAW

Prespa Agreement does not take into account that the Republic of Macedonia has its own legal system, with the Constitution as lex superior. The Final Agreement imposes on us a short time frame to implement tectonic changes, including the name of the country. Procedure is “conditio sine qua non” of democracy and its violation causes lawlessness!! Without procedure there is no rule of law. The Parliament adopted the decision to call for a referendum without a constitutional and legal basis for it. In line with Article 75, paragraph 2 of the Constitution, the laws are declared by promulgation that is signed by the President of the Republic and the president of the Parliament. The Law on the ratification of the Prespa Agreement was not signed by the President and as such could not be published in the ‘Official Gazette’ and cannot enter into force.  

I am aware that the logic of realpolitik rules the world. The international order is based on might, not right. But I believe that realism must be tempered by idealism – belief in law, values and institutions to tame material power if we want better future and psychological comfort. Small countries and their citizens should have their dignity respected and acknowledged. Macedonians struggle for recognition and dignity. They strive for “ thymos”[35]. And this is why the United Nations and the Charter exist. This is why the International Court of Justice was founded in the Hague.  Are they decorating elements or driving forces? 

MUTUAL AGREEMENT ON TRADEMARKS, COMMERCIAL NAMES AND PROTECTED BRANDS? 

Article 1 (3-h)says that the new name and terminologies will be reflected in commercial names, trademarks and brand names, calling for mutually accepted solutions on the issues through an international group of experts consisting of the two states to be formed in 2019 in the context of the European Union and contribution of the UN and ISO. This group shall finish its work within three years. This solution is based on open Greek demands to alter all commercial names trademarks and brands, which in future will have to carry the name North Macedonia and not the adjective “Macedonian”! Indeed, ISO has regulations on names, terms and trademarks and both Greece and Macedonia are its member. Both countries have chambers of commerce and other business associations and they can resolve these issues in accordance with international laws and customs. Why do we need a special commission then? Are we Greek protectorate?   

INTERFERENCE IN INTERNAL MATTERS  

Article 1 (4) imperiously ordains the steps, which will have to be taken by the Second Party after signing of the Final Agreement: without delay submit the Agreement to the Parliament for ratification and many others. It omits the fact that the Republic of Macedonia has a Constitution, laws and bylaws, constitutionally and legally determined procedures and terms for certain actions. It notes that the Second party “if decides so, will hold referendum”! Both VMRO- DPMNE and SDSMS have promised referendum for name issue in their election programs. Intending to avoid the clear question: ‘are you for the Prespa Agreement or not, or ‘are you for the name change’, the Government created ‘the most shameless question in the history of referenda (prof. Carlos Flores Huberias): ‘ are you for EU and NATO membership by accepting the Agreement’? We were placed into the Procrustean bed, and in Bermuda triangle of a triple question in which changing the name, membership into the EU and NATO membership were all rolled into one question, so even if you wanted to vote, you couldn’t just respond with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Despite the fact that the Law on referendum and other forms of direct democracy’ insists on a clear a specific question which can easily be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer (Article 15/4), the Government opted for a complex and confusing, capricious and highly suggestible question, unclear and imprecise, which could be answered with the number of combinations of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. If we really thirst for European standards, then why don’t we respect its standards in holding referendums, the standards Provided in the ‘Code on good referendum practices’, created by the Venice Commission, which insists on having formal, contextual and hierarchical logic when phrasing the referendum question? Why should we vote for the EU haven’t even begun accession talks with the EU A referendum on joining the EU is held only after the accession talks have been completed and joining the EU requires constitutional amendments. But, the ‘justification’ was that this is an consultative referendum. There is no common sense in this, because, according to our constitution consultative referendum on national level could be ‘ex ante’, not ‘post festum’ held (Article 27  of the Law on referendum and other forms of direct democracy), but the referendum on EU membership is compulsory (Article 120 of the Constitution) and the decision is adopted if it is upheld in a referendum by the majority of the total number of electorate!! Do you ever wonder why Serbia and Montenegro, which are so far ahead of us on the road to the EU, have not yet held their referendums? Colleagues of mine from the region mock us how this is the only thing in which we are far ahead – in holding a referendum on joining the EU and NATO!! Strange. And if we voted on whether to join the EU, why then did all the foreign media report that we are voting on whether to change our name? Haven’t we learnt that you don’t enter the EU simply by using European rhetoric?? At least 15 years stand between us and the ‘open’ doors of the European Union. We need to deal with: severely misbalanced separation of powers for the sake of the executive power (the government); with authoritarianism (as ‘Zaevism’ which replaced the ‘Gruevism’); with ‘partitocrazia’; with ethnocracy; with business politicians; with Machiavellianism; with corruption and organized crime; with politicized media and journalists who stand were they sit; with dependent and politicized judiciary, the partisan, fruitless and impotent bureaucratic machine… Add to this the toxic air and polluted waters, the ill healthcare, illiterate educational system with a lot of universities as paper/diploma factories instead knowledge factories…and I fear that we live in Carpenter’s Fog, not only ecologically, but also politically.     

The Balkans is an integral part of Europe, not only geographically but in its history and culture. The Homo Balcanicus will mature into a Homo Europicus on his road to Europe. The idea of the European Union is inspirational and a logical philosophy, a powerful motive for democratic reforms. But the EU can’t be polity without nomos, logos, ethos, and even pathos. Rule of law is modus vivendi of democracy. We can’t enter EU with a blessing from Pope Francis saying: brothers and sisters from the Balkan mafia repent! Let’s rebuild the Church!!” No, we badly needed normal, functional, sustainable democracy, not original and unique model of ethnocracy, ruled by sultans, ethnic and party consuls who represent their segments.  

ULTIMATUM 

We are aware of our political handicap regarding the veto right that Greece, or other members have, when it comes to accession to NATO or the EU, and the potential of roadblocks which it brings. But does this mean that we must be ready and willing to accept any kind of preconditions and ultimatums, even such which would clearly be unacceptable to anybody? We amended our Constitution twice in order to solve the name issue, we changed our flag; we signed the Interim Accord… and now we have to change our Constitution and name. What if Greece decides to order us to amend our Constitution 35 more times, given the diverging interpretations of the Prespa Agreement.

REFERENDUM WHICH ‘MUST BE’ SUCCESSFUL   

Article 1(4-c) of the Agreementsays that ‘The Second party can hold referendum, if decides so’.   But, Prespa Agreement doesn’t care and doesn’t mention that it could happen in accordance with the Macedonian legal system. What about principle:” in no case the International Agreement can’t derogate the Constitution (David Ruzie)’?    

Allow me to point out to the rich experience France has with referendums. In the French Constitution, it is not explicitly mentioned that the result of a referendum is binding, but the Constitutional Council (Constitutional Court) has an important role in organizing, oversight and evaluating the referendum, and as a final arbiter, it can decide that nobody has the right to go against the clearly expressed will of the sovereign people! In our Constitution, there is no basis to have the referendum and the other forms of direct democratic participation to be merely advisory! In fact, if our Prime Minister spoke of North Macedonia before the European Parliament as a decision which has already been made, the referendum becomes baseless and pointless, because, as far as the Government is concerned, it’s result is already known, even before it was held. Then, where does the sovereignty derive from: the citizens (Article 2 of the Constitution), or from the President of the Government?!

But, on October 30, we had referendum. Indeed, it was unsuccessful. From 1.806.336 eligible voters, 609, 427 said “yes”. The turn out was about 35%, far away from of 50%, which is needed for successful referendum.[36]2/3 of citizens boycotted the referendum, not wanting to legitimize the Agreement. The sound of silence was more powerful than the noise of propaganda. But, our President of the Government didn’t offer resignation, but decided to push forward with the constitutional changes in the parliament, thus, once again violating the “Law on referendum and other forms of direct democracy”, which Art. 30/2 says: ‘The Parliament is obligated within the period of 60 days after announcement of the referendum results to manage the question or law in accordance with the results of referendum!   

THE JANUS WITH TWO FACES 

Article 1 (4-a)instructs the Second Party to submit this Agreement to its Parliament for ratification without delay, as if the country lost a war and is now under occupation. Why such rush? The race with time was related with the pressing urge to meet the deadlines to receive a date to open EU accession talks and to be invited to join NATO, and it forced the Republic of Macedonia to hastily accept solution which our negotiators, in their pre-election campaign and during the very negotiations until the actual signing of the Agreement said they would never accept. They had no mandate or legitimacy to accept these provisions since they were not mentioned in the SDSM election program, or in the Government program. Still fresh in our memories are the statements the Prime Minister made in June, when he passionately insisted that he will not accept any constitutional amendments and rejects the Greek erga omnes formula, unless it is applied to what he then said is the best/only name he would accept: the “Republic of Ilinden Macedonia”, as the newest name invention of his team, unknown to us. After 24 hours, Greek political ‘ohi’(no) came. The name proposal was rejected, but the erga omnes formula remained for whatever will be the next proposed name. This was a complete Greek diplomatic victory and a disastrous Macedonian diplomatic defeat.

CONDITIONAL RATIFICATION – LEGAL UNCERTAINTY 

Article 1 (4-b)demands from the Second Party to notify the First Party once the Agreement has been ratified. In the Interim Accord, the First and the Second Party were equal with regard to the obligation to ratify the Accord, and the First Party did not condition its ratification with the previous ratification by the Second Party. When and why did we lose this status of equality between two countries who are legally equal subjects, despite the fact that the balance seemed restored following the Hague Court verdict, and notable names from the world of international law like professor Francesco Messineo, but also Greek politicians and journalists, opined that the verdict in the Hague has enormous implications on the name issue. [37]

A REFERENDUM WHICH MAY TAKE PLACE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY; A RESULT WHICH MIGHT BE ACCEPTED, BUT NOT NECESSARILY; A CONSTITUTION WHICH MAY BE FOLLOWED, BUT NOT NECESSARILY

Article 1 (4-c)leaves it up to the Second Party if it’s so decides (meaning it might do it, but not necessarily) to hold a referendum (an consultative one). It is clear that the creator of this Agreement counts on the legal effects of Article 118 of the Constitution, which declares that: ‘international treaties which are ratified in accordance with the Constitution are part of the domestic legal order and cannot be amended with a law’! But, as we’ve noted before, the Law of ratification of the Prespa treaty was not enacted by the Parliament in accordance with the Constitution, the President did not sign it and it has not entered into force. In our Constitution, there is no article on state name change, and no procedure for this. Indeed, the name “Macedonia” naturally imposed itself, as inseparable from the Macedonian people and the Macedonia nation or the centuries long struggle for national statehood. It has never occurred to anybody to call this country something else. The standing of this name was born out of the anti – fascist and national – liberation movement of the Second World War!! With the dissolution of Yugoslavia, again it was only natural that the newly independent state will preserve its name, now as the name of the independent and sovereign state of Macedonia!! The claims that we have often changed the name by changing the adjectives: Democratic, People’s or Socialist Republic of Macedonia does not deserve a serious response. Ignorantia!

DOES GREECE HAVE RIGHT TO PROPSE AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA? NO.  

Article 1 (4-d)orders the Second Party of to begin a procedure to adopt constitutional amendments as provided in this agreement!! The First Party seems to forget that the Second Party is an internationally recognized state subject, a member state of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and other regional and international organizations. It’s Constitution outlines the procedure needed to amend it. It is in detail specified in The Rules of procedure of the Parliament. There is a also Committee on Constitutional Affairs in the Parliament… Article 130 of the Constitution of Republic of Macedonia states that a proposal to amend the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia can be submitted by the President of the Republic, the Government, at least 30 members of Parliament or 150.000 citizens. The Constitution does not provide for constitutional amendments that are initiated by a neighboring country or an international organization, which disagrees with the name Republic of Macedonia. We cannot cede over part of our sovereignty to the Greek Parliament or to the people of our neighbor. We can cede a portion of it to the European Union when the time is right, before our entry in the Union. Amending a Constitution is a complex procedure, which should be done with a quivering hand – quivering from the responsibility entrusted to it, of course, not from fear of international isolation, as we hear!  It is a complex procedure and needs to be undertaken in several stages, one of them including a public discussion. But all steps so far related to the Prespa treaty were undertaken in the expedited procedure. All this is being done in the name of achieving this high goal, but no high goal justifies using low political means. Kant, not Machiavelli, should guide us!!!

AMENDMENTS MUST BE ADOPTED UNTIL THE END OF 2018, AND WE WERE ASKED TO SUPPORT THEM AT THE REFERENDUM WITHOUT HAVING READ THEM: ‘A CAT IN A BAG’

Without taking into account the complex procedure needed to amend the Constitution, Article 1 (4-e)imperiously ordains that the Second Party “shall commence the process of constitutional amendments as provided for in this Agreement”, which will be adopted until the end of 2018. How can the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Greece order the representatives who are elected by the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia to adopt amendments whose content is not detailed in the Final Agreement. We didn’t know the text of the amendments, our representatives didn’t know it, and they were negotiated in a non-transparent procedure, without consulting the President, the opposition, the members of Parliament or the citizens. How could 69 members of Parliament vote for a law to ratify a treaty without knowing what exactly is being amended in the Preamble, in articles 3 and 49? A reminder, in 2014 the VMRO-DPMNE – DUI coalition began a procedure for constitutional amendments. The amendments passed through all the stages of procedure in the Parliament, they received an opinion from the Venice Commission, which was critical of some amendments but welcomed others, and now nobody knows where these amendments ended up. The parties were probably afraid of opening the Pandora’s box from which here; unfortunately, do not exit European ghosts but only the most primitive Balkan ghouls. Instead of closing the gaping constitutional holes and weeding out the knots of confusion in its text, we are coming up new ones and now we find ourselves staring in the abyss, which was allegorically and deftly described in the novel “ The Leader” by Serbian writer Radoe Domanovik! The leader was blind. 

THE SECOND PARTY NOTIFIES THE REVIEWER AND AWAITS ITS ACCEPTANCE IN THE FORM OF RATIFICATION. 

Article 1 (4-f)treats Macedonia as if it is a Greek dominion. In it the Second Party has obliged itself to notify the First Party that the required amendments have been adopted and that all internal legal procedures have been completed, so only then the First Party would ratify the agreement!!! This is one of the rare obligations, which Greece has under this agreement. With these obligations the Second Party limits itself and assumes a role of a subjugated, quasi-state entity, a weak state, an incomplete state, unfinished state. I’ll say it again: the Criminal Code of the Republic of Macedonia provides that those who bring the Republic into a position of subjugation toward another country have performed a criminal act under Article 308. Article 178 of the Criminal Code bans undermining the reputation the Republic of Macedonia. Article 179 refers to the criminal act of exposing the Macedonian people and members of the other communities in Macedonia to mockery!  

Article 1(5)ordered the parties that, following the entry of this Agreement into force, they will use the new name and the adjectives deriving from it under Article 1(3) in all international, multilateral and regional organizations, institutions and forums, including in relations with other states – members of the United Nations. Of course even though Article 5 operates with the plural version and refers to the parties, this obligation binds only the Second Party, because the Hellenic Republic is the superior party in this agreement while the nameless Second Party is the inferior one. What a dignified action it is, to go ask countries that have already recognized you under your constitutional name to now re-recognize you, but this time as the “Republic of North Macedonia”, as if we are one of the regions in Greece called Macedonia! Vote for “European Macedonia”, the politicians who orchestrated this tell us. Greek politicians warn us, members of the choir of all shapes and sizes repeat their refrain, but the political conductors are doing this for the last time officially, because after the entry into force of the Agreement they will not be able to use this name any more, and we’ll have to warn other, third countries not to use other names either, because that is banned under the Agreement and would constitute violation of the law!! Those more then 140 states, which have already recognized us under our constitutional name, have done this out of respect for the UN Charter, and not out of love toward us. They known and believe in the jus cogens norms and follow them when they act in the United Nations! The UN administration knows these rules best because it is based upon them and is called to protect them. Without a legal basis, we are like Odysseus, condemned to wander on our route towards NATO and EU, but he found his way back to Ithaca with the help of the just Gods, but we face the lack of justice and ethics among our political Gods and have to pretend to be something we are not in order to be able to get past Polyphemus. We have to accept a new name, by new constitutional amendment, according to a consultative referendum (post festum), which is designed to be from an actual direct democracy act, and is being kidnapped by the representatives of Government, all the while the representative body, which should be the counterweight to the executive is instead one of its instruments. O tempora, o mores!! What about Rule of Law? 

WHY DID GREECE AND MACEDONIA EVEN SIGN THE INTERIM ACCORD? WHY DID WE ADOPT MEMORANDUMS, WHY DID WE GO THROUGH THE COURT IN THE HAGUE?

Article 6also contains obligations for the Second Party along. Namely, it has to:

a) Notify all international, multilateral and regional organizations, institutions and fora of which it is a member of the entry into force of this Agreement, and request that all those organizations, institutions and fora thereafter shall adopt and use the name and terminologies referred to in Article 1(3) of this Agreement for all usages and purposes. Both Parties shall also refer to the Second Party in accordance with Article 1(3) in all communications to, with, and in those Organizations, institutions and for a, as if we alone decided to change our name.

Now that we all understanding the name issue lacks even the lowest minimum legal basis in the UN Charter, now we alone are asked to play a stand in role in this movie and to pretend that we, by our selves, finally realized that our name ‘was ugly’ and decided to learn to accept and adapt and even love the ‘beautiful’ new name “Republic of North Macedonia”, in order to obtain Greece’s blessing to join EU and NATO!! Don’t we risk losing the unearned respect and support from 147 countries? Why did we all fight for guild associations we are members of and demanded that our colleagues accept us under the constitutional name? Did we hold all those protests in vain, every time when we were named under the short version of the interim reference, or bizarre acronym FIROM? The International Court of Justice in the Hague realized this when it said that nobody could ask us to accept its use. Others (not all) sometimes used this form, but we have always used our constitutional name. 

NO BILATERAL AGREEMENT CAN CREATE OBLIGATIONS TO THIRD COUNTRIES, BUT IF WE ASK THEM REALLY NICELY TO REVERSE THEIR RECOGNITION OF MACEDONIA, MAYBE THEY’LL SHOW PITY ON US? BUT WHAT IF THEY EVOKE INTERNATIONAL LAW?

The Second Party is also tasked with notifying all countries about this treaty and asking them to accept and in the future use only the new name, as if we are ‘Swaziland’ and decided to change our name by our own free well, rejecting the colonial name and returning to our old name. Such a hypocrisy and cynicism. We have been made to accept a “necessary reasonable compromise”! Should we now ask those countries who truly respect the Charter of the United Nations to start violating it? Have we forgotten the Hague verdict? The joint future of Macedonia and Greece is one of partners in the EU and NATO, not opposing sides locked in an internal conflict over the name. Without a doubt we face a serious dispute about identity issues in both countries, but obviously this is not the time to have such disputes. At a time when the principle of self-determination of nations is the basic norm of international law, there is nothing to be proud about if you insist on external domination.  One wonders whether the legacy one pan – Asian conqueror is a legitimate issue to have an international dispute over! No matter whom Alexander the Great belongs to, his empire collapsed like all other empires (and their shadows), writes Messineo! [38]

Is this really 21 century? Can we be blind before the mere fact that the creation of the Macedonian State completely changed the lot of the Macedonians and the opinion of the rest of mankind regarding their national existence? How to forget the great moment for Macedonia that the celebrated British statesman, William Gladstone, had foreseen in his famous letter, which I will quote below. 

The Times, Saturday, 6thFebruary 1887

MR. GLADSTONE AND THE BALKAN CONFEDERATION 

The Byron Society, which is actively engaged in disseminating appeals in Greece and Bulgaria to help the cause of the Macedonians, has communicated to its agents a letter from Mr. Gladstone for distribution in the vernacular in South – Eastern Europe. The Society aims at inducing the Greek, Serbian, and Bulgarian Governments to come to an early agreement in reference to the Macedonian question. 

The letter is as follows: 

“ Dear Sir, 

The hopelessness of the Turkish Government should make me witness with delight its being swept out of the countries, which it tortures. Next to the Ottoman Government nothing can be more deplorable and blameworthy than jealousies between Greek and Slav and plans by the States already existing for appropriating other territory. Why not Macedonia for the Macedonians as well as Bulgaria for the Bulgarians and Serbia for the Serbians? 

And if they are small and weak, let them bid themselves together for defense, so that they may not be scattered by others, either great and small, which would probably be the effect of their quarreling among themselves.

Your very faithful, 

W. E. Gladstone” [39]

‘FAREWELL’ TO MACEDONIA, ‘FAREWELL’ TO THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA?  

Article 1(7)determines that upon entry into force of this agreement the use of the terms Macedonia, Republic of Macedonia, FYR of Macedonia, FYR Macedonia, the provisional name the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the acronym “FYROM” shall cease to be used to refer to the Second Party in any official context. This ban clearly applies erga omnes, meaning that it will not apply only when the First Party addressed the Second Party but whenever a Third Party will communicate with the First Party, all upon entry into force of this agreement. What kind of a Sisyphean effort will it take to force a man to accept this new reality, knowing that his ancestors have fought and died for Macedonia, not for North Macedonia? What the paradox this is! The three Greek provinces founded by a decree in 1987 and named Central, Eastern and Western Macedonia can continue to call themselves Macedonia but the state of Macedonia cannot use this name! I admit this is difficult for me. I’m a child of partisan fighters, I was born, grew up and educated in Macedonia. Why did my father fight for when she was only 19, as a partisan in the First Macedonian – Kosovo Brigade? Was it not his determination to fight for Macedonia that kept him warm during the famous February March? When he took part in the liberation of Kicevo, he surely yearned for a free Macedonia, and he was proud to be elected as a member of the Youth Congress in the village of Fustani, in Aegean Macedonia! How will I explain to my grandchildren that the three medals for bravery he received are for his fight for Macedonia and not for North Macedonia? I realize this may sound pathetic but the name is a legacy I inherited from my father (Acko/Alexander) and my mother! We, Macedonians, when have children, often give to them the names of their grandmothers and grandfathers. These names are universal, they can be found in Greece as well as in Great Britain and still nobody wants asks them to be changed!! In fact, shared names bring us closer, not further apart. This renaming awakens bad memories in me, and reminds me on the days when our ancestors had their names and surnames forcibly changed… 

Like in other articles of the Agreement, here to we neglect the fact that this country has a Constitution of its own and that this Agreement cannot and will not have power over the Constitution. So did the EU Constitutional Treaty of 2005 which was rejected at the referendums in France, the Netherlands and Ireland… Nobody blamed his or her citizens then!! The politicians got the message and reached for an alternative solution called the Lisbon Treaty, proving that in a democracy there is always an alternative, and it’s only in a dictatorship that you do not have a choice!! The Brexit referendum won by the nearest of margins. All over the United Kingdom, those in favour and those against Brexit went to the state commissions to register, campaigned through the political parties and different associations of citizens, nominated their representatives and opened separate financial accounts… Within the parties there were people who were in favor and against Brexit, and the ministers were also divided. Countless debates took place, especially in the universities. And now the proposal to hold a new referendum is coming up to surface from different sides. The Code for good referendum practices contains clauses which allow holding a new referendum on the same question after a certain time period has passed, so in Britain we see this proposal being raised from different political positions, who want to see a new referendum on the same or a similar question. In this vein, Article 19 of our Law on referendums and other forms on direct participation is very clear: “A referendum on the same issue can not be repeated before a 2 year period has passed since the last time this issue was put to a referendum”. 

But high ranking representatives of international organizations already began using the new name and members of our government are circling around the old name, avoid to use this still official constitutional name and this is all seen very clearly by the people. Sometimes they “bravely” begin to use the new name, like our Prime Minister did in the European Parliament!!!  Every day there are new “mistakes” when the name or the adjective Northern are being used somewhere, and it’s followed up with “apologies” for this unfortunate “omission”… Seen through a legal lens, this article, which aims to have not only an inter partes but also a erga omnes effect, does not belong in a bilateral agreement. Only a United Nations Security Council resolution can replace another UNSC resolution (817). This can’t be done with the Prespa treaty. A bilateral agreement can’t impose obligations on third parties. 

THE CONSTITUTION IS A LEX SUPERIOR AND IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SOCIAL CONTRACT IN THE SENSE DESCRIBED BY ROUSSEAU

Article 1(8)says that “upon entry into force of this Agreement and taking into account its Article 1(9) and (10), the Parties shall use the name and terminologies of Article 1(3) (Republic of North Macedonia) for all usages and all purposes erga omnes, that is, domestically, in all their bilateral relations, and in all regional and international organizations and institutions”. I have already noted that despite the fact that the referendum has not yet taken place and the Constitution is not yet changed, we are witnessing a broad push to get us to begin using the name Republic of North Macedonia, not only for representatives of states which support the Prespa treaty, but also from some domestic officials who began to avoid using the official name of the country or began using the new name. And I thought we are all obliged under the Constitution, or is this some of us are already showing fealty to the Prespa treaty? Honestly, it’s not enough to say that the name change is a painful concession, but one which is unavoidable on our way to EU and NATO. But to see them speak about the new name with smiles on their faces, leaving the impression that this was like huge burden, which has fallen off her chests, it makes you feel even more uneasy and angry. It’s as if we are beginning to admit that we have never deserved to carry this weighty name or that we have really “stolen” or “borrowed” it from the Greeks?? But if the name was so important to the Greeks, they could’ve chosen it as the name of their own country, given that they established it all the way back in 1830!! Is the name change ‘a fait accompli’, regardless of whatever the referendum outcome would be and the fact that the Constitution has not been changed yet? We hear and read about incredible amazing interpretation of the effects a successful referendum would have. Those who have not yet read the treaty but have seen different propaganda materials in its favor believe that by September 30th or no later than the end of the year we will join the both NATO and the EU, because these organizations are part of the referendum question. Some also believe that only because the Prime Minister spoke in Macedonian before the European Parliament, this means that the Macedonian language is now officially in use in the EU and NATO?! Instead of these anticipative futuristic messages it was better to follow the ‘Code on good referendum practices’ and to distribute the ‘Prespa treaty’ with exact and precise explanations of the arguments in favor of the changes that are being made. The strongly partisan cheerleading in support of the Final Agreement and the overblown encouragements from home and abroad came off as insincere and only breed further doubt and mistrust. Majority of the foreign guests who came to support the Agreement do not even know what is written in it and they all repeat a same refrain. I’m not angry at them because for them it’s important to close one problem and everything else is just collateral damage. They came and went, took pictures with our politicians for the historic photo albums and left the impression of the impressionable, while we remain to live in non-European Macedonia. 

The most often repeated message was that we have to be active citizens, prepared to face this unique challenge and to respond with the simple “yes” or “no” to the three questions rolled into one. Even public figures that confessed that they have never voted before were telling us to go out and vote for our future, to forget the past and the present in which we now live. We were and are faced with demonization of those who boycotted the referendum, and the Atlantic Council, probably driven by the imperative need to ensure our Euro-Integration process, began to apply forensics and is searching out those who called for boycott!! 

Most countries around the world, ours included, do not impose an obligation for their citizens to vote because the right to vote is treated as an individual right and not as a national obligation toward the state. Therefore, abstinence, in any shape or form, including a boycott, is a legal and legitimate option. It’s a way of expressing your position in the form of a civic protest and refusing to grant legitimacy to the Government!! Comparative referendum experiences reveal that the strategy of boycott is being used among other referendum strategies! But we kept hearing the frog chorus appealing to our civic honor and sense of responsibility, telling us that the Government is not eager to hear from us, but not necessarily obey our decision. This came from persons who did not vote in the referendum for independent and sovereign Macedonia in 1991 or called on us to boycott and refuse to participate in the referendum of 2004, and also insisted, literally until ‘yesterday’, that having a referendum on the name change is not necessary as they were then saying that the politicians should not hide behind the citizens. We are facing either a case of extreme hypocrisy, or of amnesia.

AMENDING THE NAME IN OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS IMMEDIATELY, WITHOUT EVEN ALLOWING FOR A REASONABLE TRANSITION PERIOD!

Article 1 (9)also has an imperative character because again the First Party is issuing orders and the Second Party is forced to immediately take all necessary measures to begin using the name and its derivatives from Article 1 section 3 in official documents, in correspondence and in relevant materials, upon the entry into force of the Agreement. Again the question is raised whether this act of interference in the legal and political order of the Republic of Macedonia is happening following a war we lost or as the result of an occupation?

NATIONAL, OFFICIAL, BUT ALSO PERSONAL RENAMING, UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF GREECE, IN NO LATER THAN FIVE YEARS

In Article 1(10)the First Party directly interferes in the legal and administrative order of the Second Party, demanding that there will be an a) “technical” and b) “political” transitional period, to implement activities that evoke memories of similar such actions during the Turkish, Bulgarian or Serbian occupation, a time when our mothers and fathers, our grandmothers and grandfathers, were repressed and targets of assimilation attempts.

During this “technical” transitional period, (again a paradoxical term), all official documents and materials used by the public administration of the Second Party put in international use, as well as those documents for domestic use which could also be used externally need to be renewed and in the future they need to use the name Republic of North Macedonia, no later than five years after entry into force of this Agreement.

Under the political ‘transitional’ period (another bizarre formulation) all documents and materials for domestic use produced by the Second Party will need to be aligned with the new name. Their re-issuing begins with the opening of every new chapter in the EU accession process, and needs to be finalized within five years!! We need to ask ourselves how painful and costly this process will be for us, the citizens, who will have to dig deep into the corridors of this Kafkian ‘New world’ in which we will be the subjects who will be bitterly forced to spend their money and time to replace their own documents, as if we’re getting married and changing our last names. Is in not violation of our integrity, dignity and right to privacy, which are protected by Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights? 

This article opens the way for Greece to continue to block or to blackmail the Republic of North Macedonia on its way to the European Union using it as a cudgel (a weapon unknown in the international law) to beat us into accepting a blackmail that intrudes not only in our legal and political system but also in our private lives. I have no doubt that one-day the famous professors of international law Richard Falk from Princeton University and Francis Boyle from the Illinois College of Law, both against the Prespa treaty, expressed their deep disagreement with this non-European policy and diplomacy, but the more pressing question is, where are our other colleagues who can also speak up? The sound of silence! 

WE ARE ASKED TO AMEND OUR CONSTITUTION QUICKLY  

Article 1(11)provides thatthe First Party asks the Second Party to “promptly amend its Constitution, upon ratification of this Agreement by Its Parliament or following a referendum, If the Second Party decides to hold one”. Clearly holding a referendum is left as a discretionary power of the Second Party, which may, or may not, use it. But, the Agreement is placed above the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, because under our system, the Constitution can’t be amended in a prompt procedure. It requires a complex procedure outlined in the Rules of the Parliament. And still, this overly cooperative and loyal “Macedonian” Government agreed to enter a race against time and pushed the Law on ratification of the Final Agreement in a shortened parliamentary procedure, against the law, even though we’re talking about changing THE NAME OF THE STATE! Unlike the rapid fire procedure in our Parliament, when the issue of ratification of the Final Agreement was raised in the Greek parliament, the Greek opposition demanded that it is ratified with a three-fifths majority, or 181 votes out of the 300 members of Parliament as provided in the Greek Constitution, to which Mr. Kotzias responded that “it is not Greece which is not giving up on any of its sovereignty, and therefore there is no need to insist on such majority, but on 151 votes”. Well, if Greece is not giving up on its sovereignty, guess who is? Is there any greater example of giving up on your sovereignty (under duress) that to give up on the name of your state, to give up on the “Republic of Macedonia”? And we don’t even get immediate EU and NATO membership – that is left for the (conditional) future! Is it acceptable to ratify an agreement, which includes the change of the name of a country with a simple majority in Parliament, and further to have it approved at an advisory referendum?? Our President of the Government, M.r Zaev, as “ speedy Gonzales wit Mr. Tzipras is nominated for Noble price for peace! Famous Norwegian sociologist and mathematician Johan Galtung, founder of the peace studies and the Oslo Peace Research Institute, disagrees and he is also one of the signatories of the protest letter against the Prespa agreement. 

MASS CHANGES WITH A SINGLE AMENDMENT – with one stroke of the pen, without a quivering hand?

Article 1(12) determines that the amending of the Constitution and the renaming of the country will be done with a single amendment XXXIII – with one sweep of the pen! In our mad rush to join NATO and EU, 81 deputies forgot that by Amendments XXXIV that touches the Preamble, are changing the Macedonian history, important historical events and documents /decisions, creating false conclusion that our fatherland was Northern Macedonia, or that on referendum in 1991, we voted for North Macedonia!? By Amendment XXXV once again, after 1993, we guarantee respect of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the neighboring countries. By Amendment XXXVI we give up from Macedonian minority in the surrounding countries, transforming them into diaspora!  The only Article in which the name Macedonia is kept is Article 36 from our Constitution that reads: “The Republic guarantees special welfare rights to the participants in the Anti-fascist war and in all national liberation wars of MACEDONIA”. But, if so, how is then possible to replace the terms ‘Macedonia’ and ‘Republic of Macedonia’ with North Macedonia in the Preamble, in which our national memory is written. Thus, in famous Ilinden in 1903 rising, Macedonians fought for ‘North Macedonia’ and in World War II, anti-fascists also fought for ‘North Macedonia”. Lies and nonsenses!   

Article 49 of the Constitution ‘guarantees that the state will pay special care to the status and the rights of the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonians expatriates, assists in their cultural development and promote links with them. The Republic has a concern for the cultural, economic and social rights of the citizens of the Republic abroad. 

By Amendment II from 1993, on demand of Greece, we added: In the exercise of these in concerns the Republic will not interfere in the sovereign rights of other state or in their internal affairs. 

Amendment XXVI from the Prespa Agreement replaces both the Article 49 and the Addenum to it from 1992. It is missing the care of the Macedonian people in neighboring countries and affirms that Republic:  will protect the rights and freedoms of its nationals which live or reside abroad; will take care for diaspora and in the exercise of these will not interfere in sovereign rights of other states and their internal matters!      

Amendment XXXVI reminds me to Article 108 of the Greek Constitution which determines that the: “State must take care for emigrant Greeks and for the maintenance of their ties with the Fatherland. The State shall also attend to the education, the social and professional advancement of Greeks working outside the State”, but there is no obligation for Greece not to interfere in internal matters of other states, indeed! Double standards.  

The Greek Constitution does not even mention minorities because everybody living in Greece is considered Greek. Would we have to erase our article of the Constitution which guarantees the protection of the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, because, if there are no Macedonian minorities across the borders if there is no Macedonian people there are no Macedonian minorities!? Article 7-2 states that the adjective “Macedonian” determines the territory, language and the people of the Second Party!! Macedonians in Greece have the right, both as individuals as well as a collective, to self-determine themselves as Macedonians. Or don’t they?

The Republic of Macedonia signed and ratified the Framework convention for the protection of the rights of minorities, and Greece signed it but never ratified. Macedonia signed the Convention on regional and minority languages, but still hasn’t ratified it, even though our constitutional and legal provisions are fully aligned with the Convention, and even often surpass it! It contains clear guidelines about the use of geographic names, cross-border cooperation and inter-state cooperation in the protection of minorities (article 11, article 17 and article 18).

OLD-NEWCONSTITUTIONAL CONTRADICTIONS AND DILLEMAS 

Are we aware of the linguistic but also fundamental confusion of the new name and the way the name Republic of Macedonia is being used in the Constitutional law for implementation of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia from 1991?  In it it is stated that the Republic of Macedonia is an equal legal heir to the former Yugoslav state, along with the other republics, and that it assumes the membership of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in international organizations and communities (Article 3)! 

Article 1(12) of the Agreement provides for rewriting the Preamble of the Constitution, as well as Article 3 and Article 49 of the Constitution. We had to vote in a referendum, not knowing how the amendments would look like, because they were not presented to us. We expected that, in accordance with good referendum practices, we would learn all details about the Prespa treaty, including the amendments. But instead, we were bombarded with messages about EU and NATO, with slogans which have already been familiar to us and there was no need to have them repeated before the time of our expected membership has come: regarding NATO, it comes following the invitation to join this Alliance and regarding EU – after the accession talks have been completed! Was anything more essential right now than the constitutional amendments? Shouldn’t we first hear the amendments before we were expected to vote blindly in favor of them? As professor Francis Boyle says: this question is a cat in a bag – I wouldn’t be able to answer it and I’m an expert on international law, so how can the citizens answer it?? As a constitutionalist, I ask again, are we not aware that it is so rear, or a hitherto unknown constitutional phenomenon to amend the Preamble without adopting a new Constitution!! We did the precedent of 2001 when we amended the Preamble and once again now. 

This is the second time we are altering same articles (Article 3 and Article 49) of the Constitution, again because of an illegal and illegitimate request from another country, in violation of international and national law.  In 1992 the constitutional amendments proposed by the Badinter Commission, on Greek insistence, were a condition to recognize the Republic of Macedonia as an independent country by the European Community and this was supposed to put an end to the name issue. Was it not enough? In 1994 then Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Pangalos told Reuters that Greece could survive without directly resolving the name issue. “We asked them to change the symbol on their flag and to declare their borders as final… There is no need for Greece to continue to insist on that the name Macedonia is removed from the name of the neighboring republic”.[40]

I quoted Article 108 of the Greek Constitution, but other constitutions of our neighboring countries also contain clauses allowing them to care about the rights of their minorities in neighboring states. Most protective here is the Albanian Constitution. Its Preamble, line 5, invokes the centuries-old aspiration of the Albanian people for national identity and unity, while Article 8 proposes that 1) Republic of Albania protects the national rights of the Albanian people living outside of its borders. 2) Albania protects the rights of its citizens who temporarily or permanently reside outside of its borders 3) The Republic of Albania secures help for Albanians living and working outside its borders in order to preserve and develop their affiliation with the national cultural heritage. Nowadays the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Albania called on Albanians in Macedonia to get out and vote “yes” in the referendum in Macedonia. Is this not meddling in Macedonian internal affairs and inserting in the campaign of a neighboring country, and not for the first time? But Albanian politicians in the Republic of Macedonia insist that Albanian leaders are obliged to act like this by the Albanian Constitution. As if the Albanian Constitution applies to the Republic of Macedonia when Albanians are concerned.

A MENTOR AND A CENSOR

Article 1 (13)from the Agreement gives Greece the right to demand correction of mistakes and omissions in the use of the new name and the derivative terms stemming from it in international, multilateral and regional organizations, institutions, meetings and forums, in our bilateral relationships and in bilateral contacts with third countries and entities… we lawyers know about the pacta sunt servanda principle (treaties must be respected) but we can’t have a neighboring country act as both our censor and mentor. What Greece has done imposing the interim reference and abusing our constitutional name, that even though it never had any legal basis for it, it will now do with the name “Republic of North Macedonia” until we get used to this situation and accept that we are practically a protectorate of Greece!  

It’s a cynical standard formulation that “either of the Parties may request their immediate rectification” of mistakes and omissions. No modern state has this type of oversight powers over another country. Even in federations, with regard to its member states, or in EU, as a sui generis political system. What’s happened with the principle of equality among states as international entities? Will our official representatives, and all of us with them, now live in a permanent state of fear that we may make a mistake or omission and use, in word or in writing, the 74 years old name of the Republic of Macedonia? Will we have to practice to avoid saying this name? Can EU and NATO organize training exercises to help us erase the Macedonian memory like an Etch A Sketch, to forget the ethno-genesis of the state which we were born in, where we lived and grew old, which was developed through historical narratives, with its own education, politics and culture, just like all other nations, including the Greek one, were created? Will we have to unlearn what we have learnt so far and give up everything we identify with? You want us to expand our energy on corrections and apologies? Will Greece now form another Ministry, which will oversee the use of the name Republic of Macedonia, and all adjectives related to it? Maybe they’ll ask us to form a Secretariat for implementation of the Prespa treaty, whose FULL implementation will be a special condition if we want to join NATO and EU? Maybe we’ll have to name a Vice President for the Prespa treaty?

OLD ‘OBLIGATIONS’, SAME PROMISES

In Article 2Greece promises that it will not object to the Second Party submitting an application for membership under the new name in international and regional organizations and institutions where Greece is already a member. A kind reminder that this exact clause was also included as Article 11 of the 1995 Interim Accord and its legitimacy was confirmed by the International Court of Justice in the Hague in 2011 in its verdict which found that Greece violated the Accord. So what? So… nothing. The verdict does not apply to Greece even though it was made after a contested procedure initiated by the Republic of Macedonia over Greece’s obstruction of Macedonia’s invitation to NATO membership. Asked about the effects of this verdict, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, said that for NATO this is a political issue and not a legal one, and in military fashion added that Macedonia must first change its name and then it join NATO!? What is the lesson we have (not) learnt here? That Greece can violate international law without suffering any consequences. 

REPETITIO EST MATER STUDIORUM?

Under Article 2 (2), theSecond Party undertakes an obligation to require membership in international, multilateral and regional organization under the name from Article 1 – 3 and the adjectives related. Again, let’s remember that the Republic of Macedonia has joined a large number of different organizations without any impediment, using the reference from the Interim Accord, and this was proceeding until it knocked on NATO’s door and approached accession talks with the EU. Of course, the Interim Accord does not say make an exception for EU and NATO in the Greek obligation not to obstruct Macedonia’s entry into international organizations. The International Court of Justice confirmed this in 2011!! Both Greece and NATO and the EU pretended to be deaf, dumb and blind after this verdict. So, what happens if Greece again ignores its obligations under the new Agreement? Or, maybe this time she expects to be the plaintiff in future cases, so the relationship will be change.

The way Article 2 is phrased seems to impose an obligation that the Second (nameless) Party must re-apply under the new name in international, multilateral and regional organizations which it has already joined under the interim reference name, as if this new name makes it a new state and not a United Nations member going back to 1993?

WIDE MARGIN FOR BLACKMAIL

Article 3(2)states that the First Party, following the entry into force of this Agreement, pledges to ratify any accession agreement with which the Second Party joins international organizations where the First Party already is a member. Of course, given the wide room to maneuver in Article 1, but also in Articles 3-8, the First Party can easily condition the fulfillment of this obligation it will have.

CONDITIONAL SUPPORT OF OUR EURO-ATLANTIC PATH

Article 2(4) specifies the process in which the Second Party will be integrated in EU and NATO:

a)that the Second Party shall seek admission to NATO and the EU under the name and terminologies of Article 1 of this Agreement. Accession to NATO and the EU will be under that same name and terminologies.

b)it is determined that upon receiving the notice of the ratification of this Agreement by the Parliament of the Second Party, the First Party shall promptly notify the President of the Council of the European Union it now supports the opening of the EU accession talks with the Second Party under the name and terminologies of Article 1 of this Agreement. The First Party must also notify the Secretary General of NATO that it supports the extension of an access on invitation by NATO to the Second Party, conditional, first, to an outcome of the referendum, if the Second Party decides to hold one, consistent with this Agreement, and, second, to the completion of the constitutional amendments provided for in this Agreement. Upon receipt of notification by the Second Party concerning the completion of all its internal legal procedures for the entry into force of this Agreement, the First Party shall ratify the Second Party’s NATO Accession Protocol. Obviously the Second Party is put in a Procrustean bed here, because no one can know the outcome of a referendum before it is being held, but this referendum obviously will have to be successful if we want to approach ratification!! So, it’s not enough that they demand to have engineered representative democracy with politically disciplined members of Parliament used as toy soldiers but they also want to discipline the people, and if they fail in this they will find a way to circumvent the referendum outcome. They forget that sovereignty comes from the people and this people fought for its own state under its own name in the First (1903), Second (1944) and finally won it at the Third (1991) Ilinden when the referendum question asked us: Do you support a sovereign and independent state Republic of Macedonia, with the right to join the future associations of the sovereign states of Yugoslavia? Out of 1.495.807 citizens with right to vote, 1.132.981 or 75.74% of the electorate voted. In favor were 1.079.380 citizens or 72.16% of the electorate and 95.26% of those who voted. Some 13.648 ballots, or 0.91% of the total, were invalid.

This naturally brings out a question:What if the Agreement is not ratified in the Greek? Obviously in this agreement there is no clause to nullify the steps taken by the Republic of Macedonia if the deal fails in Greece. Or, what if there a referendum is also held in Greece and if it fails? Article 20 section 3 of the Agreement even declares that the Agreement shall enter into force on the date of receipt of the last notification by the Party concerned!!

Becoming aware of this, the Constitutional Law on implementation of the constitutional amendments says that the amendments XXXIII-XXXVI will enter into force when the Final Agreement will enter into force. But, Article 134 of the Constitution says that: The Constitution enters into force on the day of its promulgation by the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, and Article 133, Paragraph 3 prescribes that: The Constitutional Law is promulgated by the Assembly and enters into force simultaneously with the promulgation of the Constitution. Both the amendments and the Constitutional Law are published in Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia! Thus they have already entered into force. 

THE PROBLEM IS NOT IN THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA. THE PROBLEM IS GREECE’S CONSCIENCE

Article 3 (1) affirms that border between the two parties is inviolable and declare the absence of territorial claims between the two countries, as well as that they will not support territorial claim by third parties. As I mentioned, The Republic of Macedonia already amended Article 3 of its Constitution on Greek insistence and after a recommendation to do so by the Badinter Commission. This was done only one year after the Constitution was adopted, in 1992. Amendment 1 declares that the Republic of Macedonia has no territorial pretensions claims on neighboring countries and that the border of the Republic of Macedonia can only be changed in accordance with the Constitution, on the principle of free will, as well as in accordance with generally accepted international norms. 

Since the founding of the Republic of Macedonia, we have never declared territorial claims toward Greece. An infamous statement, at one of the VMRO-DPMNE party congresses, that “the next Congress will take place in Solun” is element of nationalist folklore. But, from a current perspective it can’t be understood as a territorial claim because it is a historically undeniable fact that VMRO was founded in Solun and therefore, as a matter of good neighborly relations, holding a party congress in this city would be a symbolic act! How else could we interpret the celebration of the centennial of the founding of the Albanian state in Skopje or the Day of the Albanian alphabet in Bitola? Is this also irredentism? Or was it Serbian irredentism to celebrate the anniversary of the battle of Kumanovo on Macedonian territory?  

In a truly symmetrical treaty it would make legal sense that all guarantees which Macedonia has added in its Constitution are reciprocated by Greece, because there is no more irredentist call than the one stating: Macedonia is Greek!! Article 27 of the Greek Constitution declares that: border change can only be done with a law adopted with an absolute majority of the total number of members of Greek Parliament!! Compared to Article 3 of the Macedonian Constitution under which it is said that the “existing border of the Republic of Macedonia is inviolable” and that “the border of Republic of Macedonia can only altered in accordance with the Constitution”. This is reinforced with Amendment 1 of the Constitution but also with Article 74 of the Constitution according to which the Parliament can adopt a decision to amend the borders of the Republic of Macedonia only with a two-thirds majority of the total number of members of Parliament, as decided in a referendum provided that the majority of the total number of citizens of voters voted in favor of the border change. This is much stronger guarantee then Greek one. 

Where does the Greek fear of our irredentism come from? It comes from the historic memory of its annexation of Aegean Macedonia and its dominant Macedonian population to the Greek state in 1913!! From the historic fact that the ASNOM included representatives from both Aegean and Pirin Macedonia, who were given gratitude for fight against fascism led by Macedonians in Bulgaria and Greece, and called to erase the artificial borders the separated brothers. [41]

That is well documented past but doesn’t represent the present or the future. The Macedonian minority in Greece, often noted by international organizations and representatives, deserves to have its minority rights guaranteed in accordance with the relevant European charters. Macedonians in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania are loyal citizens of these states, devoted Europeans who fight for their minority rights through their established cultural association but also through political parties!! Macedonia neither interfered not can interfere in the internal affairs of these state given that it is like the small David, unlike their governments which persistently interfere in Macedonian internal affairs! They order us flag and name change, constitutional changes and even propose additional constitutional changes, all in the ‘carpe diem’ (geo-political momentum) spirit!

It’s a fact that Greece will not be satisfied with any guarantee, no matter how strong it is, because the problem is inside Greece, it’s in its failure to recognize the real existence of a Macedonian nation and minority, which is native to its land and has the right to self-perception and should be respected as such.

WHO INTERFERES IN WHOSE INTERNAL AFFAIRS?

In Article 3 (2), the two parties commit to mutually respect their sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence. This is an international norm built in the Macedonian Constitution (Article 8-11 and article 118) but also in the Greek Constitution (Article 28) so there’s no need to have it repeated here. But Greece, with the approval or tolerance from EU, UN and NATO, was forcing the Republic of Macedonia to negotiate on its name, history and cultural identity, its constitutional and political system. This demand VIOLATES these international guarantees, even though they’re jus cogens, by interference in and limiting of the sovereignty of the Republic of Macedonia, denying it its sovereign right to determine its own Constitution and to develop its own model of political and legal system!!

LARTPOURLARTE

Article 3(3)says that, within the UN framework, the two countries will refrain from a threats and the use of force, including force aimed at altering their shared border. This is again yet another of the many repetitions of commonly accepted international norms. But, the Republic of Macedonia has often been target of threats of a different kind by Greece (economic embargo, border closures, military exercises and build ups near the border, violation of Macedonian air space, not allowing over-flight of the plane carrying the President of the Republic of Macedonia, not to mention insulting and bizarre messages which Greek soldiers aimed at Macedonian and Albanians, when they chant that they will “make shoes out of our skins”!!

SPY VS SPY LOGIC

Article 3(4)declares that the two parties will not undertake, support or tolerate activities and actions of non-friendly character against each other and also they are going to allow their territories to be used before by other parties or organizations, groups and individuals for subversive and secessionist activities or actions which endangered peace and stability and will inform the other party of these actions!! I would like to believe that this article is related to global instability and terror threats but I fear that it carries a note of paranoia. Despite the European milieu, it ignores international law (and laws regulating minority rights) as well as the national law of both countries. It ignores the official membership of the First Party in NATO, the de facto NATO membership of the Second Party, the EU membership of the First Party and the candidate status the Second Party has, as well as cooperation so far between Greece and Macedonia on issues related to regional peace and prosperity!! But, of course, it is good to declare mutual commitment to cooperate on issues in a region which sits in “the line of fire” (U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry) over which the geostrategic interests of major powers are crisscrossed, and in which rivers of refugees crossed over and still cross over, while it also serves as a transit route for smuggling of people, drugs, children, of crime and corruption.

MACEDONIA HAS ALREADY COMMITED IN ITS CONSTITUTION THAT HAS NO TERRITORIAL ASPIRATIONS

Article 4pledges, for the umpteenth time, (the pledge is in plural but it applies in singular, for the Second Party alone) that nothing in its Constitution, as it is in force or will be amended in the future, can or should be interpreted as constituting or will ever constitute the basis for any claim to any area that is not included in its existing international borders!! This is an unknown legal phenomenon, to use a bilateral treaty to interpret the Constitution of a neighboring state. It is an unknown constitutional phenomenon, (ab)used on us for the second time (the first time was in 1992), after the expert interpretation by the Badinter Commission and the Court of Justice in the Hague which already found that nothing in the Macedonian Constitution or in political activities in the Republic of Macedonia constitutes a threat for the territory of Greece”, so why should we again guarantee something that is already guaranteed!! But, just as Greece didn’t feel safer after the 1992 constitutional amendments, I suppose it won’t feel safer now!

HAPPY NEW 1984

Article 4(2)binds the two parties in an obligation to not make or approve of irredentist claims by those who purport to act in the name of or in the interests of the two parties!! This is really not only sad but also funny. An Orwellian clause which manifests authoritarian and totalitarian tendencies and constitutes a threat to basic human rights and liberties: the right to free thought and expression, the freedom of association, the freedom to protest, the freedom of critical scientific thought and creation… Should the First and Second Party form a joint Ministry to listen to and approve of statements given in international relations? Is this not a call to censorship and introduction of thought crime? This is another proof of the fragility of democracy in both countries, the Caesarean, consular profile of its leaders, the nationalist frustrations and baseless political fears.

SOLEMN OBLIGATION TO GUARANTEE THAT CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES IN MACEDONIA ARE FULLY GUARANTEED!

Article 4(3)asks for a solemn obligation that no clause in the Constitution (of course, this means the Macedonian Constitution, because the Greek Constitution is perfect as it) will not be seen as basis to interfere in the domestic affairs of another country, including for the protection of the status and rights of any persons that are not its citizens. Of course this is a euphemism and it applies to the Macedonian minority alone!! Although all Balkan states, including Greece, are multi-ethnic and multi-confessional, only the Republic of Macedonia qualifies itself as multi-cultural and all the others declare themselves as “homogenous”. This guarantee mirrors the one from the treaty on good neighborly relations with Bulgaria. Greece, but also other neighbors, interfere in our domestic affairs and at the same time demand that Macedonia guarantees it’s not going to interfere in their affairs, even though this is already guaranteed at our constitutional level. So, I have already mentioned that we amended Article 49 of our Constitution and guaranteed our non-interference but it is high time that Greece re-reads the Helsinki Watch reports, or the reports by the High Commissioner on minorities of the United Nations, or reports of its own Helsinki Committee… as well as the verdict of the Court in Strasbourg about the Rainbow organization. It’s high time that Greece, as member of the Council of Europe, ratifies the Framework Convention on Protection of Minority rights and signs the Convention on Regional and Minority Languages. This last item also applies to Macedonia, which has signed the Convention on regional and minority languages, but hasn’t ratified it due to some very strange internal reasons.

LET’S STOP LISTING THE CONVENTIONS AND BEGIN RESPECTING THEM

Article 5begins by detailing articles from other documents or treaties in a bureaucratic, mechanical, unoriginal boring manner, often evoking democracy, fundamental freedoms, respect for human rights and dignity, the rule of law, the Universal declaration and dozens of other conventions, all of which are violated in the Agreement, not only by Greece, but also by the United Nations, the European Union and NATO, all during this so called “name issue” which is in fact an unnatural, artificially created political dispute.[42]

UN DOESN’T RESPECT ITS OWN CHARTER AND GREECE VIOLATES IT 

Article 5(2)points out that neither party can undertake actions contrary to the goals and principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, including the principle of territorial integrity of the states!! What is the point to evoke the UN Charter if those who were supposed to protect it have violated it? And speaking of the Helsinki Act, Macedonia gave it additional constitutional guarantees, but it is still asked to give additional guarantees, as if Macedonia doesn’t believe in it or provided some reason to be seen as such. And so we now have a changing Constitution, whose changes are imposed on us by an unauthorized initiator: another country! The Declaration for an Independent and Sovereign Republic of Macedonia from 1990 evokes and is based on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations from 1966, namely the right to self-determination. 

A STALINIST GHOST IN A EUROPEAN BODY

In Article 6 (1)we see that the Agreement again insists that there will be effective measures to ban hostile activities, actions or propaganda from state bodies or from agencies directly or indirectly under state control of both countries and to prevent activities which could incite chauvinism and non-friendly actions, irredentism or revisionism against the other party and if of these appear, all necessary measures will have to be undertaken!! This article is imbued with the spirit of Stalinism and Communism, full on mistrust and calling for the creation of a police state. It is a threat to the rights and liberties of all citizens and individuals and overflows with rhetoric specifically suited for non-democratic, illiberal, authoritarian regimes, unsuitable and insulting when mentioned in regard to a EU member state and an EU candidate country!! Don’t these two countries trust each other or their respective legal systems and institutions to prevent and punish the aforementioned fears!! Where did cultural diplomacy go??? Why do we even have a segment on strategic partnership in this Agreement? Is it for decoration purposes only?

STUMBLING INTO A POLICE STATE?

Article 6(2) ignores the rule of law,constitution and the laws, and declares, led by phenomenon of ‘the Balkan spy’ or ‘suspicious person,[43]that the parties will act to discourage and prevent acts by private entities likely to incite violence, hatred or hostility against the other Party. It insists that such actions will be taken promptly. This wordage is tainted with mistrust toward the citizens and implies a threat to endanger human rights and liberties, demands discretionary actions from the governments and the control and invasion of privacy, presupposes guilt and abandons the principle of presumption of innocence. Pythia herself could not have foreseen what is likely dangerous.

Article 6(3) calls for the prevention of these aforementioned activities, including propaganda from private entities and other activities likely to promote chauvinism, non-friends relations, irredentism and revisionism toward the other party! It’s incredible that articles of this kind are being repeated throughout the Agreement, which shows that the creators of this strange document believed that there is terrible level of mutual mistrust between Greek and Macedonian politicians, and insults the citizens of both states, on one side, but also show mistrust in democracy and the citizens whom this democracy comes from. This approach is deeply disturbing and non-European.

EVERYBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO HIS OWN UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORDS “MACEDONIA” AND “MACEDONIAN”

Article 7 (1)sets out the weird, unusual, impossible even, goal to distinguish the meaning and understanding of the words “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” through the viewpoints of the First and of the Second Party, who differently see the prism of historical context and cultural heritage. It’s an undeniable fact that the Republic of Greece and the Republic of Macedonia share a number of joint historic moments and also share a cultural heritage. In this regard it’s instructive to listen to the Italian example given by professor Francesco Messineo, who writes about the dispute between Greece and Macedonia. “In Rome”, writes Messineo, “on one side of the Via dei Fori Imperiali we see the maps of the expansion of the Roman Empire discovered during the dictatorship of Mussolini. The crucial stage here came under Emperor Trajan when the Roman Empire was at its peak (the first and second century A.D.). In 1933, the message of these maps was clear: Italy invokes this cultural heritage as if 476 A.D. never happened. For a state, which was barely 70 years old, this was a crazy call to arms and with its nationalist ideology it caused a lot of suffering across many territories, including in the Balkans… Geographic maps from ancient times are not a good idea, no matter where they come from.

Ancient maps of long lost empires have also affected this denomination dispute between the Hellenic Republic and Macedonia”.[44]

It is very likely that in all the history of international law there is not a single previous case of a political agreement between two countries being used to determine the meaning of words rooted in history, culture, identity and language, even within the frames of a single country, let alone between two neighboring countries. Each nation creates his own history and culture and has the right to receive and interpret these events by itself, “on its own”. In fact, the name and the adjectives related to the name are an inherent element of the legal subjecthood of the states which are equal international participants, because they have the right to self-determination, which includes these names and is inextinguishable and non-depletable. It’s not in vein that we said to speak of the United Nations and not of United States. The names of the states, their regions, cities, rivers, all toponyms and oronyms… are not a matter of an agreement but represent a historic creation and as such they are inert and resistant to changes. It is unimaginable to ban their use or to have it subject to politically negotiations, given the nature of their origin and how they came into being.

The Republic of Greece and the Republic of Macedonia have the right to determine the words “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” as they wish within their historical and cultural context, but Greece can’t order Macedonia and Macedonia can’t order Greece how it should refer to its own regions and what it means when the names Central, Western or Eastern Macedonia, or the words “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” are used. History and culture are non-negotiable. Different historical and cultural contexts lead to different perception. “ As a biography of the nation’ national historiography is an historical ‘genre’ which first appeared in nineteenth –century Europe. [45]

GREECE DETERMINED ITS MEANING OF “MACEDONIA” AND “MACEDONIAN” BY ITSELF

In Article 7 (2) it is determined that “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” are used to denote not only the area and people of the northern region of the First Party, but also their attributes, as well as the Hellenic civilization, history, culture and heritage of that region from antiquity to present day. This is not only a false but also laughable perception. There is a long list of scientific arguments that the period of Antiquity does not belong to Greece alone. Ancient Macedonia was not Greek either. Antiquity is not an exclusively Greek cultural heritage but a shared heritage of entire civilization. Just consider how many cities, rivers, settlements and mountains in the Republic of Macedonia, or in South Bulgaria, or Albania, have names from this ancient period and we are rich in ancient artifacts? In Greece there is a Greek people as an ethnicity, but also as a demos and part of the latter is also the Macedonian minority. Geographical names in northern Greece were Slavic until 1925 when they were changed by decree. Greece took over a part of Macedonia in 1913, after the Bucharest treaty. Is the saga of the Aegean Macedonians not part of our memory and identity? Who was the ABECEDAR book printed for? What are we supposed to do with our grandfathers and even our parents who were born in Aegean Macedonia! If we agree that nothing was named after Macedonia or called Macedonian in Greece until 1987, how come they claim that the words “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” have an uninterrupted historic continuity in that country? Antonis Liakos writes that: “Despite of its ancient name and self-representation, contemporary Greece is not an old nation. The Greek nation state was born as a result of a separatist war in the second decade of the 19th century when it split from the Ottoman Empire. New territories were annexed in the 19th century (in 1864 the Ionian islands, 1881: Thessaly and part of Epirus, 1912 – 13: part of Macedonia and the remainder of Epirus, the North and Eastern Aegean Islands and Crete…As a nation, or a ‘cultural nation’, in the traditional division between Western European and Eastern European nations. Greece is the result of the huge change in cultural identification in the 18thcentury and was consolidated in the 19thcentury”. [46]

IDENTITY AND HISTORY ARE NOT DETERMINED BY A TREATY

Article 7 (3) determines that for the Second Party the words “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” denote its territory, language, people and their characteristics, with their own history, culture, and heritage which are distinctly different from those named in the previous section!? What a strange perception. Are the ancient city across Macedonia and the numerous ancient artifacts found there not part of our own history and culture, just like in Sofia and the Rhodopes there are numerous other ancient names and artifacts which are part of the Bulgarian history and culture, but also part of the shared cultural heritage from the Antiquity. Are we baptizing our state, territory and people with Agreement? This is what our representatives in the court case against Greece said over the violation of the Interim Accord: “The Macedonian identity is not a matter of choice. It was imposed on us by history. Even though it’s not a matter for this court, the key differences between us is in the name and its overall impact on our nationality, our language and identity… Due to obstruction by the defendant, we were late on our way toward international recognition and often had to make painful compromises for the sake of regional stability… For us the name is a result of a historic process: born as Macedonians, we speak Macedonian and we have no alternative identity to choose from”.[47]

DE-NATIONALIZATION

Article 7(3) is the one, which our Government says, guarantees for the identity of the Macedonian people. But in reality, the Balkans ethnic map resembles a leopard skin patchwork, and all the nations have minorities in their neighboring countries. Are not our and the Greek history and culture intertwined in certain time periods? Can we delineate them with this Agreement as if with a knife? And if “Macedonian” is used to determine the Macedonian people, as a nation as well as a political nation, why are we then being asked to erase its adjective from all of our national institutions such as the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Macedonian Television, Macedonia Radio, Macedonian Ballet. Greece, and all other countries, will retain their adjectives in front of their institutions. True, these are state institutions, but they are also national ones becase the state does not create art, culture, science – the nation does. On top of this all, in Macedonia there is Turkish theatre or an Albanian theater, and the ALSAT Albanian television, so how is it possible that there will be no “Macedonian” institution, if we really won acceptance for the Macedonian people?

POLITICAL LINGUISTS  

Article 7 (4)announces that the “Second Party notes that its official language, the Macedonian language, belongs to the group of South Slavic languages”. Both parties agree that the official language of the Second Party all its other characteristics are not related with the ancient civilizations, the ancient history and the cultural heritage of the northern region of the First Party!! Again, this is really ridiculous. Can the signature of the minister of exterior on a document, as an agreement determine which linguistic group the Macedonian language belongs to? This is determined by science, known as philology.  Are the other languages, including the Greek determined by agreements? But, one is bear fact: Macedonian modern state is established at ASNOM, and one on of its decision is that Macedonian language is the official language of the new state.     

LOOMING THREAT OF CENSORSHIP AND SELF-CENSORSHIP, THE RETURN OF THOUGHT CRIME

Article 7(5)assures us that “nothing in this Agreement is intended to denigrate in any way, or to alter or affect, the usage by the citizens of either Party”!! Fine, but the previous articles impose the danger of self-censorship and outright censorship on the citizens imposed by the First Party depending on how they use the words “Macedonia” and “Macedonian”. 

THE MACEDONIAN PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES AS HEDGEHOG IN COURT[48]

Article 8allows the party, which believes that the other party is using symbols, which are not part of its historic and cultural heritage to notify it and demand a correction and the other party should take appropriate corrective actions to address the issue and ensure respect for the patrimony in question. This article disregards the right of nations to choose symbols they want to be identified with, in line with their right to self-determination. Nobody has the exclusive right to use certain symbols. This applies to the name, the flag, the coat of arms and identity. Many states have the cross as their symbol on their flags, others use eagles and lions, and nobody complains. I named the example of the Polish anthem, which begins with the words O, LATVIA and again nobody minds, this. Australia and New Zealand have almost identical/ same flags, with subtle differences, and no problem. It’s the right to individual choice. Nobody has thought to object, condition cooperation, demand corrections in this regard, nobody but Greece. 

CAPTIVE ANTIQUITY? SINCE WHEN IS SKOPJE 2014 PART OF THE HELLENIC HERITAGE?

Article 8(2) demands a six months period in which the Second Party will re-examine the status of its monuments, public buildings and infrastructure on its territory to determine if they, in any way, call upon the ancient Hellenic history (it’s not true that all of the ancient history is Hellenic) and civilization. The Second Party will then have to correct these objects to ensure respect for the Greek cultural heritage and history. A paradox. Antiquity is not exclusively Hellenic and ancient Macedonia was not Hellenic, top historians say. There are remnants of Antiquity in the Republic of Macedonia as well, but also in a number of other countries, and they, according to UNESCO standards, are asked to protect the artifacts found on their territory. But it’s not only countries that have ancient cultural heritage, but also those who have not a trace of Antiquity, like the Unites States for example, which have numerous buildings built in the classical or neoclassical style. Artists and architects from across the world, as well as in Macedonia, have the right to create buildings and monuments in a certain style, including the (neo)classical one. Greece is not the sole owner of ancient cultural heritage and the period of Antiquity is a shared heritage of all civilization. Various buildings and sculptures are works of their authors, their intellectual property, and nobody has the obligation to label his work of art and to say that it evokes the Hellenic culture. How would an organ of the state know what is being evoked here anyway? Is this article a joke? Sincerely, I have no respect or particular sentiment for the buildings of Skopje 2014 and I believe they deteriorated our relations with Greece, but I don’t believe that their demolition or relocation is a good idea. It would be better to keep them silent witnesses of “Gruevism” as authoritarianism. It’s pointless to re-examine the meaning of monument, buildings and infrastructure, to determine what their message could be, and whether they are in the style of the Greek cultural heritage! I’ve already said that we own our share of this cultural heritage, which we unfortunately do not care about enough. Greece, being named the Hellenic Republic, has no exclusive right to Antiquity, let alone to various contemporary building with questionable artistic value, but a notable tourist and commercial value! 

WE CHANGED OUR FLAG EVEN THOUGH WE DIDN’T HAVE TO. ENOUGH’S ENOUGH!

Article 8(3) demands that we remove the flag using the Star of Vergina, as Greek say, and the Sun of Kutles, as we Macedonians name it from all public institutions and places of public use.  The Greek national flag does not use this 16-ray sun symbol, but uses the same cross-seen in many other state flags and nobody has objected to them over it. We bona fide changed our national flag, even though we were not required to by international law. Representations of this artifact are found in many churches throughout Macedonia. Nobody can order our citizens what flag to use at home and in public spaces. State and public institutions, on the other hand, have the obligation to use the state flag.

UN RECOMMENDS, DOESN’T ORDER. GREECE ORDERS INSTEAD OF RECOMMENDING

Article 8(4)calls upon the recommendations of the “United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names in relation to the use of the official geographical names and toponyms in the territory of the other party thus giving priority to the use of endonyms over exonyms”! Each country can decide on its own how it will approach these recommendations for standardization. They do ask that advantage is given to endonyms (official names) over exonyms (foreign names for a given place), but it specifies that in certain situations, including where we are dealing with names, which are historically founded or related to a certain population, the exonyms are valuable part of the cultural heritage. We had this example with Pustec, a municipality in Albania, located on southwestern shore of Lake Prespa, mostly populated by Macedonian minority. Its original name was changed I 1973 and from 1973 – 2013 it was Liquena, when the name Pustec was changed back. It is given that standardization must not be guided by the wish to deny diversity. It’s a common practice that besides the exonym, the endonym is added in brackets. The relationship between exonyms and endonyms in our relation to names in northern Greece must be seen through the historic prism and through the eyes of the Macedonian minority in Greece. It’s a historic fact that until 1925 geographical names in northern Greece were in the Slavic Macedonian language, given that dominant Macedonian Slavic population there. They were changed by a Government decree. So, we are not talking about the way we refer to the city of Athens, we are talking about historical names which were erased with the stroke of a pen! In this case we have to bear in mind Article 11(3) from the Framework Convention on the Protection of Minorities, which recommends to the signatory countries that they must pay attention to the specific conditions on the ground and try to preserve the local traditional names in the minority language. Therefore, it is not an international obligation to give preferred treatment to endonyms. We could accordingly write Thessaloniki next to Solun, but Greek authorities should have to use the minority language names, in this case the Macedonian names, besides the official names (endonyms). 

THREAT TO FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, CREATION, SCIENCE AND THE AUTONOMY OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Article 8(5)says:  “Within one month of the signing of this Agreement, the Parties shall establish by exchange of diplomatic notes, on a parity basis, a Joint Inter-Disciplinary Committee of Experts on historic, archaeological and educational matters, to consider the objective, scientific interpretation of historical events based on authentic, evidence-based and scientifically sound historical sources and archaeological findings. The Committee’s work shall be supervised by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Parties in cooperation with other competent national authorities. It shall consider and, if it deems appropriate, revise any school textbooks and school auxiliary material such as maps, historical atlases, teaching guides, in use in each of the Parties, in accordance with the principles and aims of UNESCO and the Council of Europe… so as to ensure in each of the Parties that no school textbooks or school auxiliary material in use a year after the signing of this Agreement contains any irredentist/revisionist references. The Committee shall also study any new editions of school textbooks and school auxiliary material as provided for under this Article. The Committee shall convene regularly, at least twice a year, and shall submit an Annual Report on its activities and recommendations to be approved by the High-level Cooperation Council”. This type of control is unseen and unheard of even in a federal or confederal union. What kind of a ‘renaissance committee’ is this, headed by the ministers of foreign affairs? Expert committees, in my opinion cannot be under the state control because of the danger of then being politicized and turned into instruments of the parties. They recommend, not give out orders. Didn’t we use to fight for the autonomy of the university and for freedom of scientific thought? I have understanding for cooperation between universities and for the need to form different expert bodies in different areas which will point out to content, materials, maps, etc… with objectionable or insulting content, hate speech or false information. But “preventing irredentist/revisionist content” sounds like a Communist term, non-scientific, misleading to the extreme, Stalinist even! We can’t revise history under pressure or through such agreements and we cannot limit the freedom of scientific thought. The autonomy of our universities also includes autonomy of thought, scientific research and writing. In the way this Agreement is set up, it has in it the danger of state interference in domestic affairs of the weaker party, being exposed on constant political and bureaucratic pressure, hidden in expert cloths. So, academia, from Plato to nowadays is the right place for scientific debate. The ministries of foreign affairs of both countries could not monitor it. Logically, the Second Party as the weaker one is under treat of interference both in internal matters, but also in science. What about author’s rights, about competent reviewers who could be replaced by politicians and their political suggestions for the sake of good neighboring relations. Aren’t we killing the science with politics?  

GOOD NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS ARE NOT BUILT WITH THREATS AND BLACKMAILS, BUT THROUGH MUTUAL RESPECT AND COPPERATION

Article 8(6) states that the “above mentioned mutually accepted solutions which have derived from the negotiations will contribute to the definitive establishment of peaceful and good neighborly relations in the region, in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993)”, as if we’ve been at war until now. On contrary, the Prespa Agreement doesn’t close, but opens new problems between two states. It arguably violates internationally guaranteed political and cultural rights of Macedonians.  At the very start of this analysis I said that this Agreement moves above and beyond the two UNSC resolutions!!

A CHALLENGE FOR OTHER AGREEMENTS? 

The second chapter of the Agreement regulates cooperation in different areas and serves as an excuse for the signing of this Agreement by the ministers of foreign affairs instead of the presidents of the states.  I have already stated that this chapter does not belong to this Agreement and should be covered by different, separate agreements, on different areas of cooperation.

Article 9(1)simply enumerates the areas of cooperation and contains no strategic framework or goal!! An Action Plan is mentioned, but then forgotten, without any additional details about it.

AT LONG LAST

Article 10provides for the elevation of the existing liaison officers in the two capitals to the level of embassies as well for the elevation of the office for consular, economic and commercial affairs in Bitola and Solun to be elevated to the level of general consulates. This is an excellent step. But, I remember those times in Yugoslavia when in my street was a building on which entrance was written: The ‘Consulate of Greece in the Republic of Macedonia’. I also know that Greek students in 1970ies were studying in Republic of Macedonia. 

IN PRACTICE

This is followed by articles that cover diplomatic relations, corporation in international and regional organizations, political and societal corporation, economic cooperation, cooperation in education, science, culture, research, technology, healthcare, sports, police and civil protection, defense and treaty relations. 

Establishing cooperation in different areas is of mutual interest for both sides and through this we can overcome the mistrust and build confidence, but the win – lose concept of this Agreement makes it far from an appropriate platform to build mutual respect and good neighborly relations.

SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES: INVOKING THE UN CHARTER WHILE VIOLATING IT

Article 19(1) indicates “The Parties shall settle any disputes exclusively by peaceful means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”. Invoking the Charter sound very cynical given that it was brutally violated during the admission process of the Republic of Macedonia in UN membership.

A PROTECTORATE?

Article 19(2)determines the procedure in case this agreement is not honored: notifying the other party of the concerns and seeking solution through negotiation and ultimately asking the good offices of the UN Secretary General.

GREECE REFUSED TO HONOR THE VERDICT AFTER ITS VIOLATION OF THE INTERIM ACCORD, BUT NOW WHEN HAS RIGHTS AND NO OBLIGATIONS, IT WILL SUE US INTO OBLIVION

Article 19 (3) determines that in case of dispute over the interpretation of this Agreement and its implementation, if the sides can’t come to a negotiated agreement, a procedure can be initiated before the International Court of Justice in the Hague within six months. What cynicism. Greece lost the dispute in the Hague and did not implement the verdict of the court. Now it again agrees that the same court will have jurisdiction in case of dispute in this new Agreement. Why? Well, as the dominant party in this Agreement it gives the orders and North Macedonia has to follow them.

FINAL CLAUSES

WRONG SIGNATORY

Article 20 (1)provided that the ministers of foreign affairs will sign the Agreement even though in both countries the primacy in signing international agreements belongs to the President. Of course this is a deliberate decision made in order to avoid President Ivanov and to get minister of foreign affairs, Nikola Dimitrov engaged. 

WE ARE BOUND TO RATIFY THE TREATY, AND GREECE CAN DO SO IF IT WANTS TO

Article 20 (2)deals with the ratification, in accordance with the procedure set out in Article 1(4) and not in line with the legal frame of both countries. The ratification process is also asymmetrical, knowing that The Second Party will not only have to ratify it but our Government has discretionary power on whether to hold a referendum and then has to amend the Constitution, while only afterwards the Greek Parliament will ratify the Agreement. I’ve already said that there is no clause on what happens if the Agreement is not ratified by Greece!!

GREECE HAS THE LAST WORD 

Article 20 (3) binds the Second Party to notify the First Party that its necessary internal legal procedures, including constitution changing have been completed. It specifies that the Agreement enter into force on the date when the Party concerned (the Second Party, indeed) has received the last notification! 

ONLY THE CONSTITUTION ENTERS INTO FORCE IMMEDIATELY AFTER BEING VOTED IN, BUT CLAUSES OF THIS AGREEMENT ARE APPLICABLE EVEN BEFORE THE AGREEMENT?

Article 20(4) determines that even before the entry into force of this Agreement, Article 8(5) will apply provisionally, so that the creation of the Joint Interdisciplinary Committee can begin to evaluate schoolbooks. But, “if this Agreement does not enter into force in its entirety and each of its provisions individually, shall have no further effect or application, provisional or otherwise, and shall not bind either of the Parties in any way”. Why such hurry for one of the most important issue: the name, as the most powerful symbol? 

A UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION CAN BE REPLACED ONLY WITH ANOTHER RESOLUTION

Under Article 20(5)“the difference and the remaining issues referred to in Security Council resolutions 817 {1993) and 845 (1993) shall be considered as having been resolved upon entry into force of this Agreement”. I have already noted that there are no other disputes besides the one on the name, but with this Agreement the scope of the dispute has been extended, stimulating ‘ultra vires’ actions!! I believe that one resolution can be replaced only by new resolution.

Article 20 (6) binds the parties (or only one of them?) as soon as possible to inform the Secretary General of the United Nations of the entry into force of this Agreement.

VIOLATIONS OF THE UN CHARTER AND OF JUS COGENS

Article 20(7)notes that “this Agreement is not directed against any other State, entity or person. It does not infringe on the rights and duties resulting from bilateral and multilateral agreements already in force that the Parties have concluded with other States or international Organizations!!” I have already stated that the Agreement violates the UN Charter because the Republic of Macedonia is forced to negotiate away its name, its identity, history, constitution, legal and political system! It does not take into account that recognizing a state is a bilateral arrangement and it brings the Republic of Macedonia into a humiliating position to request recognition under the new name, one which it would never have accepted if it weren’t for the threat of veto to its EU and NATO membership. Even after Greece obliged itself not to use its veto powers under Article 11 of the Interim Accord, then violated this obligation, was sued, and lost the dispute. 

On top of this, the right of every citizen of the Republic of Macedonia to “choose the name of his or her own state and nation” is limited. This right falls into the domain of personal choice, to choose the identity and integrity of his own state. The right to use to freely chosen name of the state and nation you belong to that was used throughout our lifetimes belongs to rights of protection of privacy of the individual, in accordance with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The individual has the right to use the name of his own state and nation as an individual right.

ILLUSION OF EQUALITY IN THE FINAL CLAUSES

In Article 20(8), it is stated that the First Party will implement this agreement in accordance with its obligations stemming from its membership in the European Union and other international, multilateral and regional organizations, as well as in accordance with other international instruments. The Second Party in accordance with its obligations emanating from its membership in multilateral or regional organizations including those related with the European Union, following its proposed accession.

Greece was supposed to act in the above-mentioned manner under its obligations in the Interim Accord but it failed to do so and with the verdict of the International Court in Hague it was declared as the guilty party for violation of Article 11 of Accord. The Court, in its verdict, determined that further non-obstruction of Macedonia is understood and is part of Greece’s obligation to act in good faith

THE AGREEMENT IS NOT THE BIBLE, AND IS CONTRARY TO INTERNATIONAL LAW. FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS? 

According to Article 20 (9), the Agreement is irrevocable and shall remain into force for an indefinite amount of time. No modification to Articles 1(3) and 1(4) are permitted!! This section contains the eternity. Indeed, we the constitutionalist know that “eternity clauses” have political, not legal meaning and that every generation has a right to its constitution, as well as to constitutional revision. Nobody can forbid us to change imposed constitutional provisions which are contrary to the jus cogens, built in the Charter of the United Nations such as: the equal right to self-determination of nations, equal sovereignty and independence, non-interference in domestic affairs. According to Article 53 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Treaties (Vienna Convention) “a treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law (jus cogens)!!” 

OurConstitutional Court, at his own, or other subject could initiate procedure against the Law on ratification of the Prespa Agreement, opening the question of violation of Article 8 (1), line 11 of the Constitution in which the respect for the norms of international law is a basic value of our constitutional order!! If the court would do so, it would be forever written in the annals of the fight to defend jus cogens as the basis for United Nations Charter, and in doing so would defend not only Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia but also the Rule of law! It might be our Marbury vs Madison case. International court can also disregard the Prespa Agreement because if its conflict with jus cogens.   

Other state, or states could also arise the question of (in)validity of the Prespa Agreement which is conflicting with jus cogens, thus preventing it from having legal effects.  

Changing the name of a country under request of another, despite the fact that the names of the two countries don’t share a single word between them, is an unknown political and legal phenomenon.

Imposing additional conditions for an applicant country to join the United Nations, following the adoption of Resolution 100-2 of the General Assembly in 1947, the Resolution 190 7-3 of the General Assembly in 1948 and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1948 is a precedent contrary to the UN Charter and the principles of jus cogens.

Altering the Constitution and the constitutional name of a country with a bilateral agreement is an unknown constitutional approach.

In the era of postmodern constitutionalism I’m aware of relationship between national and international law but in the so-called name issue for the Republic of Macedonia the basic principles of international law (jus cogens) have been violated. Again Hayek and Dicey lost the football match (Judith Shklar).

The Prespa Agreement once again proved the deep constitutional crisis, on national, regional and international level.  


[1]Sasho Georgievski: “An unnatural bilateral dispute” – the name issue between Greece and Macedonia, p. 254

[2]This interview with Matthew Nimetz was published on the MAK NEWS M.I.L.S. news site (see – www.hri.org/news/balkans/mils/1995/95-09-25.mils.html)

[3]Svetomir Skaric: “Macedonia on all continents”, Union Trade Skopje 2000, p. 30

[4]The name issue between Greece and Macedonia, p. 291

[5]Interview with Ljubomir Frckoski from May 25th2002, published in The name issue between Greece and Macedonia, p. 330

[6]MILS News, Skopje, October 26th1993 

[7]The name issue between Greece and Macedonia, p. 384

[8]Eleftherotypia March 9th2006

[9]Article 36 of the Greek Constitution

[10]Quoted by Hristo Andonov – Poljanski, Revolutionary Traditions – spurring the freedom loving ideas of a popular and socialist revolution (Supplements to Ilinden IV) 1982, p. 20

[11]The Declaration of an independent and sovereign Republic of Macedonia from 1990 invoked the right of self-determination of all peoples, guaranteed in the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightsfrom 1966

[12]Macedonians were Macedonians when they didn’t have a state of their own, let alone a Constitution. Constitutions merely note the name of the state, and do not establish it. No other nation has referred to itself as Macedonian or named its state “the Macedonian state”

[13]Miso Dokmanovik: Policies of neighboring countries on the independence of the Republic of Macedonia, Annual Publication by the Justinian the First Law Faculty, Skopje, tome 42, 2006, p. 679

[14]Henkin, Pugh, Scharter, Smit, International Law , Cases and Materials, Third Edition( Minnesota 1993): p. 253

[15]Until 1982, it was the Ministry of Northern Greece

[16]Letter from Rainbow to Amb. Nimetz, dated 26 February 2008, published in the “Name Issue Between Greece and Macedonia” p. 459Flores Juberias, Journal of Modern Science, WSGE/ 168. 

[17]Carlos 

[18]Amendment I to Article 3 says: 1. The Republic of Macedonia has no territorial pretensions towards neighbouring states. 2. The borders of the Republic of Macedonia ca only be changed in accordance with the Constitution and on the principle of free will, as well as in accoradance with generally accepted international norms. Amendment II to Article 49 reads: 1. In the exercise of these conserns the Republic of Macedonia will not interfere in the sovereign rights of other states or in their internal affairs!

[19]Francesco Messineo: The ICJ and the Macedonian Dispute, Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law(1) 1: 169-190(2012) p. 189.

[20] “Name Issue Between Greece and Macedonia” p. 460

[21]see “Greek National Identity: Religious Minorities, Rigths, and European Norms”, Journal of Modern Greek Studies , volume 10, number 2, October 1992, The Johns Hopkins University Press

[22]Commission of the European Communities , Communication from the Commission to the European Parliamnet and the Council. Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010 COM(2009Z) 533 de 14.10.2009”( availabel on line at http: //ec.europe.eu/enlargement). 

[23]Joseph H.H. Weiler, “The Constitution of Europe”

[24]Verbatim Record of Oral Proceedings, CR2011/12, 30 March2011( 3pm), available at http://www.icj-cij.irg/docket/files/142/16390.pdf

[25]Svetomir Skaric – Macedonia – a new state in the Balkans, Macedonian Association for Constitutional Law, Skopje 1995, p 101-102

[26]Arbitration Commission, Opinion 6: On the Recognition of the Republic of Macedonia by the European Community and its memeber states, Balkan forum, No.1, 1992, p.199-203.  

[27]James Petiffer., Time for Macedonia to Put End to Negotiations with Greece

[28]Article 31 of the Greek Constitution from 1975

[29]An example that this perception of citizenship is not coincidental: In 2001, before landing in Madrid, we were given forms to fill in our passport details, given that Spain was not involved in the Schengen regime. After we did so, the stewardess returned to ask my fellow passenger – an ethnic Albanian, to tell her that she can’t have a Macedonian passport which lists her nationality as Albanian and asked her to correct it in the form!!

[30]This is the ABECEDAR book which Rainbow President Vaskopulos gave to Ms. Dora Bakoyannis at the OSCE Summit in Warsaw, where she claimed that there is no Macedonian minority in Greece, the same ABECEDAR whose jubilee edition was STOICALLY defended by American prof. Victor Friedman in Athens, during the incident when Golden Dawn members were throwing ashtrays at him, and he calmly took pictures of them

[31]https://www.google.com/search?q=Sir+Robin+O%2C+Neal&rlz=1C1AOHY_enMK709MK709&oq=sir+&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4.11459j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

[32]Evangelos Venizelos, The New Youth of the Constitution (The Constitutional Revision in Today’s Europe), Esperia Publications Ltd, London, 2002, p. 38-39.

[33]Svetomir Skarik: National reports on the Fourth World Congress of the International Association for Constitutional Law, Skopje 1995 “The name Macedonia in Greek – Macedonian relations”, p.96-97

[34]See in Antonis Likaos “ Historical Time and National Space in Modern Greece” in Hayashi Todayuki and Hiroshi Fukuda, Regions in Central and Eastern Europe: Past and Present, Sapporo, Slavic Euroasian Studies,  15, 2007, p. 205 or at htpps://antonisliakos.gr /about/. 

[35]Gordana Siljanovska- Davkova, Democracy in Multiethic and Multicultural Society- Between Demos and Ethnos, in Macedonia on Globalization, ed. N. Nikolovska, Global Scholarly Publications, New York, 2004, p.184. 

[36]In accordance with Art. 73/2 of the Constitution: The dession is passed in a referendum if majority of those voting have cast in favour of the same, on condition that more than half of the total number of voters voted. Also, in accordance with Art. 30/1 of the ‘Law on Referendum and other forms of direct democracy”: decisions on referendum are adopted if majority of those who voted, voted “ for” and if there is turnout higher than half of the electorate.      

[37]Francesco Messineo,  The ICJ and the Macedonian Dispute, Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law(1) 1: 169-190(2012)

[38]Francesco Messineo, Ibid, p. 189.

[39]Cited by Giorgio Nurigiani: The Macedonian Genius Through the Centuries, Matica, 2009, pp. 12-13

[40]MIC, Skopje, 20, 1994

[41]The ASNOM documents

[42]Saso Georgievski – “An unnatural dispute” section in “The Name Issue”, p. 254-263

[43]Well known from Nikolay Gogol’s drama “ The Government Inspector” and Branislav Nusic’s  drama ‘Suspicious person’.    

[44]Franacesco Massineo, Ibid, pp. 170

[45]Berger, Stefan, Donovan, Mark and Passmore, Kevin (1999) (eds.), Modern Greece: Nationalism& Nationality ( Athens: SAGE-ELIAMEP). 

[46]Antonis Liakos”Historical Time and National Space in Modern Greece”in Hayashi Todayuki and Hiroshi Fukuda, “Regions in Central and Eastern Europe: Past and Present”, Sapporo,  Slavic Euroasian Studies 15, 2007, pp 205- 227.

[47]Francesco Messineo, Maps of Ephemeral Empires: The ICJ and the Macedonian Dispute, Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law (1)1: 169–190 (2012), pp. 171.

[48]See the satire “Hedgenog in court” written by Petar Kocic, Serbian writer