Opinion No. 6 on the Recognition of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia by the European Community and its Member States
In a letter dated 20 December 1991 to the President of the Council of the European Communities, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia asked the Member States of the Community to recognize the Republic.
The Arbitration Commission proceeded to consider this application in accordance with the Declaration on Yugoslavia and the Guidelines on the Recognition of New States in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union adopted by the Council on 16 December 1991 and the rules of procedure adopted by the Arbitration Commission on 22 December.
For the purposes of its deliberations the Commission took note of the following materials supplied by the Socialist Republic of Macedonia:
1. Declaration of 19 December 1991 by the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, appended to the abovementioned letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs;
2. Letter of 20 December 1991 from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia;
3. Answers to the Commission's questionnaire sent to the Republic concerned on 24 December 1991;
4. Report on the results of the referendum held on 8 September 1991;
5. Declaration of 17 September 1991 by the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia;
6. Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia of 17 November 1991 and amendments passed on 6 January 1992;
7. Letter of 11 January 1992 sent by telecopier by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Chairman of the Arbitration Commission in response to the Commission's request of 10 January 1992 for additional information.
Having regard to the information before it, and having heard the Rapporteur, the Arbitration Commission delivers the following opinion:
1. In his answers to the Commission's questionnaire the Minister of Foreign Affairs made the following statements on behalf of the Republic of Macedonia:
(a) In response to the question what measures Macedonia had already taken, or intended to take, to give effect to the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris:
`The Constitutional Act for the implementation of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia states that the Republic of Macedonia shall base its international position and its relations with other states and international organs on the generally accepted principles of international law (Article 3).
The Constitutional Act for the implementation of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia defines that the Republic of Macedonia, as an equal legal successor of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia together with the other republics, takes over the rights and obligations originating from the creation of SFRY (Article 4).'
(b) In response to the question what measures Macedonia had already taken, or intended to take, to guarantee the rights of the ethnic and national groups and minorities on its territory:
`The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia provides for the establishment of a Council for Inter-Ethnic Relations, which shall consider issues of inter-ethnic relations in the Republic. The Council, composed of all the nationalities on parity basis, apart from the President of the Assembly, consists of two members from the ranks of the Macedonians, the Albanians, the Turks, the Vlachs and the Roms, as well as two members from the ranks of other nationalities in Macedonia. The Assembly is obliged to take into consideration the appraisals and proposals of the Council and to pass decisions regarding them. (Article 78).'
(c) In response to the question whether Macedonia would undertake not to alter its frontiers by means of force:
`Yes, the Republic of Macedonia respects the inviolability of the territorial borders which could be changed only in a peaceful manner and by mutual consent.
The Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, in the declaration of 17 September 1991, states that the Republic of Macedonia, strictly respecting the principle of inviolability of the borders, as a guarantee for peace and security in the region and wider, confirms its policy of not expressing and having territorial claims against any neighbouring country (Article 4).'
(d) In response to the question whether Macedonia was willing to abide by all the undertakings given on disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons:
`Yes, the Republic of Macedonia undertakes all relevant obligations referring to disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as security and territorial stability.'
(e) In response to the question whether Macedonia was prepared to settle by agreement all questions relating to state succession in Yugoslavia and regional disputes, or by recourse to arbitration if necessary:
`Yes, the Republic of Macedonia accepts the obligation and strives for the resolution of all issues referring to the succession of states and to regional disputes, and in case this cannot be reached, by arbitration.'
(f) In response to the question what measures Macedonia had already taken, or intended to take, to honour this undertaking:
`The Constitutional Act for implementation of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia regulates the question of succession and states that the Republic of Macedonia as an equal successor with the other Republics of the SFRY shall regulate the rights and obligations of the SFRY based on the agreement with the other republics for the legal succession of the SFRY and the mutual relations (Article 4).'
(g) In response to the question whether, and in what form, Macedonia had accepted the draft Convention of 4 November 1991 prepared by the Conference on Yugoslavia:
`The Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, on a proposal by the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, passed a Declaration on 19 December 1991 accepting the draft Convention of the Conference on Yugoslavia (Article 3).'
(h) In response to the question whether acceptance applied more specifically to Chapter II of the draft Convention:
`Yes, the Republic of Macedonia accepts the provisions from Chapter II of the draft Convention referring to the human rights and the rights of the national or ethnic groups.'
2. Following a request made by the Arbitration Commission on 10 January 1992 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia stated in a letter of 11 January that the Republic would refrain from any hostile propaganda against a neighbouring country which was a Member State of the European Community.
3. The Arbitration Commission also notes that on 17 November 1991 the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia adopted a Constitution embodying the democratic structures and the guarantees for human rights which are in operation in Europe.
For the protection of minorities in particular the Constitution contains a number of special provisions, whose main features at least should be mentioned:
(a) The main provision is to be found in Article 48(1), which states that members of the several nationalities have the right to the free expression, cultivation and development of their national identity; the same applies to national `attributes'.
(b) In Article 48(2) the Republic guarantees that the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of the several nationalities will be protected.
(c) Article 48(3) gives members of the several nationalities the right to set up cultural and artistic institutions and educational and other associations that will enable them to express, cultivate and develop their national identity.
(d) Under Article 48(4) they also have the right to be educated in their own language at both primary and secondary levels.
These provisions are to be given effect by statute. In schools where instruction is to be given in the language of one of the other nationalities, the Macedonian language must also be taught.
(e) In this connection Article 45 is important since it provides that any citizen may set up a private school at any educational level except primary. Article 19(4) provides that religious communities are also entitled to establish schools. In both these cases, however, the precise extent of the rights in question has still to be determined by legislation.
(f) In the matter of language and script, Article 7(2) provides that in communities where the majority of the inhabitants belong to another nationality, the language and script of that other nationality must be used for official purposes, alongside the Macedonian language and the Cyrillic alphabet. Article 7(3) makes the same provision for communities where a substantial number of inhabitants belong to a given nationality. In both these cases, however, the rights in question have still to be determined in precise terms by legislation.
(g) Article 9(1) of the Constitution prohibits any discrimination on grounds of race, colour, national or social origin, or political or religious convictions.
4. On 6 January 1992 the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia amended the Constitution of 17 November 1991 by adopting the following Constitutional Act:
`These Amendments are an integral part of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia and shall be implemented on the day of their adoption.
1. The Republic of Macedonia has no territorial claims against neighbouring states.
2. The borders of the Republic of Macedonia could be changed only in accordance with the Constitution, and based on the principle of voluntariness and generally accepted international norms.
3. Item 1 of this Amendment is added to Article 3 and Item 2 replaces paragraph 3 of Article 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.
1. The Republic shall not interfere in the sovereign rights of other states and their internal affairs.
2. This Amendment is added to paragraph 1 of Article 49 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.'
5. The Arbitration Commission consequently takes the view:
- that the Republic of Macedonia satisfies the tests in the Guidelines on the Recognition of New States in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union and the Declaration on Yugoslavia adopted by the Council of the European Communities on 16 December 1991;
- that the Republic of Macedonia has, moreover, renounced all territorial claims of any kind in unambiguous statements binding in international law; that the use of the name `Macedonia' cannot therefore imply any territorial claim against another State; and
- that the Republic of Macedonia has given a formal undertaking in accordance with international law to refrain, both in general and pursuant to Article 49 of its Constitution in particular, from any hostile propaganda against any other State: this follows from a statement which the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic made to the Arbitration Commission on 11 January 1992 in response to the Commission's request for clarification of Constitutional Amendment II of 6 January 1992.
Paris, 11 January 1992
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