Greece says it did not violate agreement with FYROM

Greece argued at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Friday that it did not violate an agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) when it blocked the neighboring country?s attempt to join NATO three years ago.

The Greek Foreign Ministry?s legal counsel, Maria Telalian, told the court that Athens did not break the 1995 interim agreement between the two countries, which prevented it from blocking Skopje joining international organizations. She argued that FYROM had breached the accord itself as it applied to join NATO under its constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia, which was not allowed by the 1995 deal.

She also underlined Skopje?s lack of willingness to reach a negotiated settlement to the name dispute in contrast to Greece?s openness to such talks.

Greek honorary ambassador Giorgos Savaidis argued that FYROM was prevented from entering for a lack of good-neighborly relations that were identified by all the members of the alliance. He said that if Skopje agrees on a solution to the name dispute, it would be allowed to join NATO.

On Monday, the ICJ started hearing FYROM?s appeal against Greece over its decision to veto Skopje?s bid to join NATO in April 2008. Athens exercised its right to veto FYROM?s candidacy at an alliance summit in Bucharest on the grounds that the Balkan country should resolve the name dispute first.

Meanwhile, FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki indicated that a 45-minute meeting between prime ministers George Papandreou and Nikola Gruevski in Brussels on Thursday was held in a positive mood. ?This was their ninth meeting a year,? he was quoted as saying. ?It was held in a constructive atmosphere. The dialogue will continue in the future.?