- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Greece, which views with deep suspicion the use of the name Macedonia by its northern neighbor, officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, appeared doubly riled yesterday when the name cropped up in an official international document it also views with disfavor.

Greece chided its Slavic neighbor for ignoring European Union policy in signing an agreement with the United States to exempt American soldiers from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

In addition, Greece protested to the United States its use of the name Macedonia as the official party to the agreement.

The bilateral accord came after Washington suspended $47 million in military aid to countries that refuse to sign such agreements.

In Greece, the name Macedonia is used for Greece’s northernmost province, and there are concerns that its Slavic neighbor might one day make an irredentist claim against Greek territory.

The State Department quickly explained that its failure to use the country’s formal title of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in an official document did not indicate any change in U.S. policy.

“The use of the word, name, ‘Macedonia’ is an informal name that’s been used in the agreement. It’s not a change of recognition,” said spokesman Richard Boucher.

“This is an agreement that we reached with Macedonia. We used the word ‘Macedonia’ because that’s the informal name we used,” he said, describing his explanation as an “asterisk” to the accord.

An entry on the State Department Web site says: “Macedonia is not the official or short-form name for this country. The official long-form name is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, abbreviated F.Y.R.O.M. There is no short-form name for this country.”

Mr. Boucher said Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou had sent a message to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell raising the issue of the casual term.

“I’m not sure if we’ve responded. Frankly, I don’t know,” the spokesman said.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia split off from Yugoslavia in 1991, but international recognition of the country and its new identity was hindered by Greek fears that calling it Macedonia connoted designs on its northern province.

Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis yesterday also chided Macedonia for caving in to U.S. pressure to sign the agreement despite European Union pressure to the contrary, Agence France-Presse reported.

“All countries are free to sign bilateral agreements with the United States,” said Mr. Beglitis, but as a country close to the European Union, Macedonia should have taken into account EU policy.

Ten countries set to join the European Union in 2004, plus Bulgaria and Romania, earlier signed an agreement to ensure their national policies on the International Criminal Court conform with the EU line.

Last week, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, of which Macedonia is a member, adopted a resolution condemning “pressure exercised by the United States on a certain number of Council of Europe member-states” to sign waivers.

Of the 90 countries that have ratified the ICC treaty, more than 50 signed agreements with the United States under Article 98, which allows member states to enter into bilateral arrangements with other nations to protect their citizens from the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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