Marcus A. Templar, MA, MSc
(Instructor of Public Policy and Counter-Terrorism)

Copyright: Marcus A. Templar on line
In Business Law, the principle nemo dat quod non habet means that no one may give what one does not have; nevertheless, this principle goes a little further.  This rule stays valid regarding stolen goods, even if the bona fide purchaser does not know that the seller has no right to claim ownership of the object of the transaction.  Thus if goods are stolen, the buyer does not get ownership even if there was no indication that they were stolen.  Accordingly, the consequence of the above principle is that a person who does not own property, that is a thief, may not confer the stolen property to another person except with the true owner’s permission.  The same applies in International Law.

The legal status of each country is that of an artificial person.  In the case of the name dispute between Skopje and Greece, the UNSC resolutions have indicated that because Greece complained that the name Macedonia, its derivatives, and its property – historical, social, and even spiritual- belongs to Greece by inheritance, Skopje may not bear the same name without the permission of its owner.  Since the owner does not allow any country to bear it, Skopje had to find another name for the country and its derivatives.  Considering countries as artificial persons, we may apply the above to relations among them.  The UNSC agreed with Greece’s contention and proceeded to adopt resolutions that constitute legal documents.

Resolution 817/93 urges the parties to continue to work together to arrive at a speedy settlement of their difference while both countries carry out negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, with the objective of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue.  Skopje has accepted and it will use the provisional name “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” or “FYROM.”  The Interim Agreement between Greece and the FYROM explains the relation of these countries in a form of do’s and don’ts during the negotiation period.

The Skopjans assert the right to self-determination allowing them to call their country whatever they want.  The right of self- determination applies in terms of a country’s independence, not in terms of its name, especially when the same name infringes on the human rights of other people.  On September 8, 1991, Skopje exercised that right, which was never offered to Cyprus by its British occupiers.

Skopje has sued Greece alleging that Greece is in violation of article 11 of the Interim Agreement because she had persuaded other UN members that Skopje did not meet the spirit of good neighborly relations.  Nevertheless, pertinent to the matter, Skopje had not applied to join NATO as FYROM, but as “Macedonia” invoking internal constitutional arrangements.  According to International Law, “no country may invoke internal constitutional arrangements to avoid its international obligations.”  Besides, no organization, no country, and no court may force Greece to abandon its national rights, national interests, and national security, as Greece understands them.

Officials of NATO and EU countries consider the name dispute that Greece has brought up as preposterous, although they were the same countries who were terrified by the name German thus depriving the Austrians of their own German ancestry.  When the UNSC encouraged the two countries to negotiate an acceptable by both countries name for the FYROM, it did not create a precedent, but it employed one from the Peace Treaty of St. Germain-en-Layé of 1919.   Upon the end of WWI and the abdication of the Kaiser in November of 1918, the Provisional National Assembly of Austria, representing the new state called Republik Deutschösterreich or “German-Austrian Republic,” formed the Provisional Government of German Austria.  The allies, fearing future ramifications of the inclusion of the word German in the title of the new republic, insisted that Austria change its name removing the term “German” from it.  Thus according to the provisions of the Peace Treaty of St. Germain-en-Layé, signed on September 10, 1919, Austria appears under the title Republik Österreich or Austrian Republic.  The website of the Austrian parliament explains in detail the reasons and the fears of the allied powers regardless of the fact that Austria did not consider those fears valid.

The reality is that those countries, which at present find Greece’s position on the name issue ridiculous, were the same countries that objected to the term “German Austrian” in the title of the new republic being terrified of the consequences.    On October 17, 1919, four days after the Constituent National Assembly adopted the treaty, the name of the state was changed to “Republic of Austria.”  The consequence of the name change, which the Allies imposed on Austria, was that it affected any name derivatives.

Conversely, the FYROM not only ignored the UNSC resolution 817/93, it actively launched a vigorous diplomatic and lobbying campaign, oftentimes lying that the dispute was over and that Greece had accepted for other countries to call the new state “Macedonia” as it is in the case of Guatemala’s recognition.  In some cases, Skopje’s newly found friends did its bidding as it is in the case of Kenya.  Skopje even returned documents back to the sender because their country’s name was “Macedonia” as in the case Hungary; and the list can go on and on.  The fact that EU and NATO countries ignore the principle nemo dat quod non habet is absolutely inconsequential to them.

The officially sanctioned Macedonism raise Skopje ’s nationalism to the highest level with every single day that passes.  The “Macedonian” prayer written and produced by Niche Dimovski, vice-president of the World Macedonian Congress, was shown on national TV (i.e. MTV) of the FYROM had God telling the “Macedonians,” “[f]rom you, Macedonians, descendants of Macedon I conceived the white race.  All that stretches over to the Japanese sea is conceived from you [sic] gene.”  Furthermore, in the prayer God said to his flock calling all the white men on the planet Macedonoids (Last accessed February 16, 2010).  To this day not one official of the FYROM or the Skopjan diaspora has condemned this racist nine-minute video.

Besides the propaganda issue of “Macedonians in bondage,” the FYROM government published the history book of the “Macedonian Military” that includes the history of ancient Macedonia and an army associated with Skopje’s perception of ancient Macedonia.  To be exact, the Military Academy of the FYROM funded the book, which after Greece filed a demarche, the government of the FYROM withdrew, but it is now on sale by the author.    Simultaneously, the Slavic pupils and youth have been constantly bombarded with anti-Hellenic propaganda through their schoolbooks, the Press, and its diaspora.  In the course of history of any institution of the country, any argument of ancient Macedonians being Greek has been prohibited and it is punishable by law.  Yet, not one Skopjan official or scholar has ever provided a single piece of evidence, let alone proof, for their allegedly inherited Macedonism.

The Falkland’s War started because of similar publications appearing in Argentina placing the mentality of the Argentinean people in a state that encouraged the regime to attack a British territory.  A whole generation of schoolchildren had been taught that the Malvinas i.e. Falklands were Argentinean territory.  The government had even issued postage stamps proclaiming the islands part of the Argentinean Republic.  Argentine maps labeled the Islands as “occupied territory.”

Nonetheless, the problem is wider than the simple name Macedonia.  The Slav inhabitants of the FYROM who have nothing to do with the ancient Macedonians, have changed the names of streets to ancient Macedonian ones (i.e. Greek names), they have been erecting statues of ancient Macedonian heroes (i.e. Greek names) and they are building monuments and naming them after ancient Macedonian kings (i.e. Greek names).  Another absurd fact is that although they claim that Alexander the Great was not Greek, they consider him descendent of the mythical hero Heracles concealing the fact that Hercules is the Roman name for Heracles who was definitely an Achaean Greek!  The penultimate outlandish thing that remains is to change their own language to “ancient Macedonian” (i.e. the language of the katadesmos of Pella), which was a mixed Northwest Doric dialect with Aeolic elements.

Instead of foreign governments pressuring Skopje to stop the violation of the letter and the spirit of the Interim Agreement, they pressure Greece under the pretext of Skopje’s instability!  Have they forgotten that Skopje’s disregard for her own signature has become the modus operandi of the country?  Skopje has done the same with the Ohrid Agreement and in this manner it keeps contributing to its own instability.

Would the same EU/NATO officials that recklessly support the FYROM’s ultra-nationalistic path conclude a contract with someone knowing full well that s/he negotiates in bad faith violating pacta sund servanda?  Foreign governments violate the principle nemo dat quod non habet because they are indifferent and do not want to see the upcoming problems which they will create when they sign the document of Skopje’s ascension to the EU.  They politically equate the victim (Greece) to the villain (Skopje) and then proceed to assist the thief to keep the stolen goods, the name Macedonia, along with its derivatives and its heritage, stumping on the principle nemo dat quod non habet and Athens remains silent.  WHY?  Perhaps Athens is unwilling to think outside the box and consequently connect the dots.


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