For public information only. This does not reflect UMD views or opinions, nor does UMD take ownership of its contents. The text below was prepared by the Macedonian Foreign Minister Dr. Ilinka Mitreva and her team and circulated to the United Nations and member-states.
In its Report of 15 January 1992, the European Arbitrage Commission, headed by Robert Badenter, presented the opinion that the only the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Slovenia completely fulfill the conditions for independence and international recognition, in pursuance with the criteria governing international recognition of states-successors to the SFRY contained in the European Community Declaration of 16 December 1991.
Contrary to this recommendation, the recognition was delayed, as a result of the opposition of Greece, presenting the explanation that the name Republic of Macedonia allegedly is a threat to its territorial integrity and an appropriation of the Hellenic cultural heritage.
On 7 April 1993, the United Nations Security Council concluded that the Republic of Macedonia “fulfills the criteria for membership in the United Nations laid down in Article 4 of the Charter” and recommended the General Assembly that our country is admitted to membership. The Security Council decided that “ 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 that has arisen over the name of the state” and “in the interest of the maintenance of peaceful and good-neighborly relations in the region (S/Res/817(1993)”. This decision runs contrary to the UN Charter especially in light of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 1948 (later confirmed by the General Assembly GA/Res.197 (IIIA), (1948), that there are no other conditions for admission to the UN except the conditions set forth in Article 4 of the Charter. Thus, the additional conditions imposed on the Republic of Macedonia are contrary to the principle of equality set forth in the article 2 of the UN Charter.
On 26 February 1994, Greece unilaterally imposed an embargo against the Republic of Macedonia. Such an act had serious political, security and economic implications for the Republic of Macedonia, but also for the entire Region. Two months later the European Commission “asked the European Court of Justice for an injunction against the Greek embargo as a serious breach of EU law.”
The embargo was in place until 13 September 1995, when the two countries concluded the Interim Accord. Macedonia made substantial concessions towards Greece in order the Accord be reached. Thus, it changed its national flag and accepted the obligation under Article 5 of the Accord to continue the negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary General. Along with the amendment to Article 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, which envisages that “The Republic of Macedonia has no territorial claims against neighboring states.”, this is an indeed serious package of bona fide concessions given by Macedonia, reaffirming its constructive approach towards the relations with its neighbor.
In this context, it should be born in mind that Resolution No. 817 (1993) of the United Nations Security Council states that the reference would be provisionally used ”pending the settlement of the difference that has arisen over the name of the state”. It cannot be concluded from this wording that Republic of Macedonia has agreed to discuss the finding of a new, another or a compromise name “acceptable for both parties”, as suggested by the Greek side.
The Republic of Macedonia is neither de jure nor de facto threat to its neighbors. By pursuing a constructive policy and undertaking concrete steps in the past turbulent years, the Republic of Macedonia has become a serious partner of the international community and a factor of stability in the Region:
– It has acquired independence without armed conflicts;
– It respected the UN sanctions towards Serbia in conditions of several year- embargo imposed by Greece, suffering huge economic damage;
– Facing enormous risks for the economy and the delicate ethnic balance, in the course of the 1999 intervention, it accepted more than 360.000 refugees from Kosovo, or 18% of the total population of the country;
– It resolved the 2001 crises by applying political means, being fully dedicated to the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement;
– It successfully develops multiethnic democracy in an extremely complex environment;
– It promotes and advances regional cooperation;
– It has an active role and contributes to the efforts of the international community for democratization and stabilization outside the borders of the Republic of Macedonia.
All these facts completely refute the thesis that the Republic of Macedonia with its name is or could be a threat for any of its neighbors. On the contrary, exactly the continuous denial of the constitutional name and the sovereign right of the Republic of Macedonia to name itself is a direct threat to our and the Regional stability. The international recognition of the constitutional name would be in support of the national identity and territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Macedonia.
In accordance with the relevant international norms, the Republic of Macedonia, as any other country, has the right to self-determination. One of the basic demonstrations of this right is the right to one’s identity and name. The Republic of Macedonia does not hold exclusive rights over the name Macedonia in geographic, cultural or historic terms. We are not demanding change, nor do we object to the use of the name Macedonia to designate the Greek northern province. However, the Hellenic Republic does not have such exclusive rights either. The implications of the term Macedonia have a meaning for and are shared by several nations in the Balkan region. The constitutional name Republic of Macedonia is a compound name. The word Republic defines the type of rule in the state and the state organization (res publica (a public matter) which leads to the conclusion that the name Republic of Macedonia does not relate to a wider geographic term Macedonia, but it refers to a precisely designated international law subject – the Republic of Macedonia- with defined and internationally recognized borders. Thus, the name Republic of Macedonia contains a clear distinction from the Greek province – Macedonia.
In the framework of the talks about the difference over the name, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Ambassador Matthew Nimitz, in light of his extraordinarily active role in the last years, as he himself says in the Pres Release of 12 April 2005 (SG/2097), has proposed numerous ideas and suggestions regarding the resolution of the issue. In accordance with the nature of the issue and in the desire to find a solution, under an agreement with the participants in the talks, the contents of the discussions on these ideas have not been presented to the public. The last idea for change of the name into “Republika Makedonija-Skopje” as communicated by mediator Nimitz, is basically a proposal by the Hellenic Republic. After rejecting his previous ideas, Greece has requested that Mr. Nimitz formulate this Greek proposal and ask for a reaction on our part.
The Republic of Macedonia both in the framework of this process and publicly rejected this idea, expressing its continuous commitment to constructively participate in the process. After the previously made concessions serving the interest of the relations with Greece, we cannot accept a change of our constitutional name, which in the English language reads as “Republic of Macedonia”, for international communication. The change of the name is not an option for the Republic of Macedonia, since it is the fundamental grounds upon which the Macedonian nation and statehood rest.
Ignoring our clear position regarding the coinage phrase “Republika Makedonija-Skopje”, Greece continues to demand that this formula is the basis for the solution, seeking support for its position from the bodies and member-countries of the EU. We would like to reiterate and strongly emphasize that the name issue is not part of the European and Euro-Atlantic agenda of the Republic of Macedonia. As in the case of all other candidate countries, our integration into the EU is to exclusively depend on the fulfillment of the Copenhagen criteria. Even more, in accordance with Article 11 of the Interim Accord, Greece agreed not to object to the application by or the membership of the Republic of Macedonia “in international, multilateral and regional organizations and institutions” of which Greece is a member.
In the spirit of constructiveness and good-neighborliness, we are ready to make one more compromise. In light of the fact that Greece is the only country that has objections regarding our constitutional name- Republic of Macedonia-, we would be prepared to accept the Greek proposal “Republika Makedonia-Skopje” as grounds for finding a mutually acceptable formula for bilateral communication with Greece, while within the UN and in the overall international communication with other countries and international organizations our constitutional name is to be used.