Highlighting the importance of the rule of law at the United Nations General Assembly today, the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, today called for closer cooperation with Greece to resolve the ‘name’ issue between them.
“In the spirit of good neighbourly relations and our strong determination to overcome and resolve open issues, I take this opportunity to appeal to our neighbour to work together in this direction,” President Ivanov told the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, which began at UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
“We are neighbours. But we wish to be more than just neighbours. We wish to be partners, allies and friends and be able to build together the present and future of our people, our countries and our region,” he added. “We wish to work together with them and build a safe, prosperous and free world for our children.”
A UN-brokered Interim Accord was signed by the two countries in 1995, providing for the establishment of diplomatic relations between them and addressing other related issues. Under the Accord, the parties agreed to continue negotiations under the auspices of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a view to reaching agreement on their difference over the ‘name.’
In his remarks, President Ivanov referred to a decision made last year by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – the principal judicial organ of the United Nations – which found that Greece, by objecting to the admission of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, had breached part of the Interim Accord.
“Out of this place, out of the heart of the United Nations, I urge them to respect the judgment of the International Court of Justice and to respect its internationally assumed obligations from the Interim Accord,” he stated.
Noting its relevance to the rule of law, the President said the concept faces a challenge if the processes it is supposed to improve or the solutions it is supposed to offer take too long.
“A solution has to be reached, in the interest of good neighbourly relations, in the interest of regional cooperation,” he said. “And the best way to help is to provide full respect of the UN Charter, of the Interim Accord and of the judgment of the International Court of Justice. In other words, to provide uncompromised adherence to the framework offered by the resolutions.”
“We ask for this because we have been prevented from using our constitutional name even at this very stand,” he continued. “The International Court of Justice, in article 95 of the judgment, stated clearly: Macedonia has the right to refer to itself as the Republic of Macedonia in its relations with the other party and within international organizations.”
The President added that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is keen to see Greece make its way out of its current economic crisis as soon as possible, and has proposed a series of measures on how to upgrade their economic and “good neighbourly” cooperation, including a bilateral agreement on the evasion of double taxation.
Other topics which President Ivanov touched upon in his statement included international mediation, sustainable development, youth and regional cooperation.
The President is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.