Ethnonationalist Conflict in Postcommunist States

Ethnonationalist Conflict in Postcommunist States: Varieties of Governance in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Kosovo

Maria Koinova
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 320
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    Ethnonationalist Conflict in Postcommunist States
    Book Description:

    Ethnonationalist Conflict in Postcommunist States investigates why some Eastern European states transitioned to new forms of governance with minimal violence while others broke into civil war. In Bulgaria, the Turkish minority was subjected to coerced assimilation and forced expulsion, but the nation ultimately negotiated peace through institutional channels. In Macedonia, periodic outbreaks of insurgent violence escalated to armed conflict. Kosovo's internal warfare culminated in NATO's controversial bombing campaign. In the twenty-first century, these conflicts were subdued, but violence continued to flare occasionally and impede durable conflict resolution. In this comparative study, Maria Koinova applies historical institutionalism to conflict analysis, tracing ethnonationalist violence in postcommunist states to a volatile, formative period between 1987 and 1992. In this era of instability, the incidents that brought majorities and minorities into dispute had a profound impact and a cumulative effect, as did the interventions of international agents and kin states. Whether the conflicts initially evolved in peaceful or violent ways, the dynamics of their disputes became self-perpetuating and informally institutionalized. Thus, external policies or interventions could affect only minimal change, and the impact of international agents subsided over time. Regardless of the constitutions, laws, and injunctions, majorities, minorities, international agents, and kin states continue to act in accord with the logic of informally institutionalized conflict dynamics. Koinova analyzes the development of those dynamics in Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Kosovo, drawing on theories of democratization, international intervention, and path-dependence as well as interviews and extensive fieldwork. The result is a compelling account of the underlying causal mechanisms of conflict perpetuation and change that will shed light on broader patterns of ethnic violence.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0837-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Applying Path-Dependence, Timing, and Sequencing in Conflict Analysis
    (pp. 1-27)

    Over the past few decades some Eastern European postcommunist states with large ethnonational minorities managed to participate in nonviolent transitions while in others ethnic conflicts turned into civil wars. Some consolidated their democracies, and by 2007 were full members of the European Union (EU). Others started democratic transitions but did not complete them. Instead, disagreements between majorities and minorities evolved into civil wars, arrested political development, and led to significant loss of life. Despite the EU’s mitigating effects on its neighbors, some conflicts displayed remarkable resilience and others developed anew.

    The global media reported on the capture of indicted war...

  6. Chapter 1 The Majority-Minority Relationship and the Formation of Informally Institutionalized Conflict Dynamics
    (pp. 28-58)

    After defeating communism as an ideology, the liberal creed in the early 1990s appeared to triumph globally. Capturing the Zeitgeist of the time, institutionalist accounts offered democratic solutions for mitigating ethnic conflicts by such strategies as respect for minority rights in line with international norms, power-sharing agreements, fair electoral rules and proportional representation, ethnic balance in military and police structures, decentralization, autonomy, and federalization.¹ Principles of respect for diversity, division of power, and competition for power were placed at the core of these solutions.²

    By the late 1990s some scholars became aware that such institutional solutions might be productive for...

  7. Chapter 2 Self-Reinforcing Processes in the Majority-Minority Relationship
    (pp. 59-99)

    Various strands of scholarship have identified the existence of “vicious and virtuous circles” and also that they become self-reinforcing. Repetitive moves in rational choice game theory and density of civic ties offer two of the clearest ways to think about such dynamics.¹ These accounts, however, have not sufficiently considered the role contextual and temporal characteristics play shaping these dynamics. The most advanced qualitative analysis has come from scholars working on intractable conflicts. Ruane and Todd observed that the conflict in Northern Ireland is so durable because of a “system of relationships with different levels which interlock and mutually reinforce each...

  8. Chapter 4 International Agents, Self-Reinforcement of Conflict Dynamics, and Processes of Change
    (pp. 100-128)

    We now turn to how non-identity-based third parties contributed to the duration of conflicts and their change. By delineating specific causal mechanisms of conflict perpetuation, the following adds to established scholarship on third-party interventions. An insightful yet inconclusive quantitative literature on civil wars has analyzed primarily how third parties change the capabilities of the government or opposition on the ground, how they manipulate the information available to local belligerents, and how they relate to achievement of military victory or negotiated settlement.¹ Evidence suggests that military and economic interventions tend to increase the duration of civil wars, but this claim has...

  9. Chapter 5 Intervention of Identity-Based Agents: Kin-States and Diasporas
    (pp. 129-156)

    Kin-states and diasporas are important external agents in ethnic conflicts because of their close identity-based ties with domestic agents. During the nation-state formation era in the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries, kin-states sought to incorporate their ethnic brethren in neighboring states. Irredentism continued to flourish during the First and Second World Wars, but a bipolar world order during the Cold War suppressed many of these movements.¹ After the Cold War ended, conflicts did not resume in the same manner because the nature of irredentism had changed. In the second half of the twentieth century, pressures to redraw territorial borders...

  10. Chapter 6 Change in Conflict Dynamics
    (pp. 157-177)

    The previous five chapters addressed the book’s central question: why did ethnonational conflicts with similar characteristics at the beginning of the transition process lead to different degrees of violence over time? The discussion so far has demonstrated that during a formative period of time (1987/89–1992) when the political and economic systems of Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Yugoslavia were undergoing major transitions from communism, the choices of majorities, minorities, international community, and kin-states were important to establish different conflict dynamics. How majorities approached a change in minority status and reinforcement of the change through co-optation or coercion mechanisms, and how minorities...

  11. Chapter 7 Continuity in Conflict Dynamics
    (pp. 178-202)

    The major changes in the informally institutionalized conflict dynamics during the 2000s have now been outlined. Under pressure from insurgents and delegitimized majority policies, altering statehood became more acceptable to the international agents toward the end of the 1990s. This new attitude was conducive to the “replacement” of old rules of engagement between majorities, minorities, and international agents and the development of new ones. The 2001 Ohrid Framework Agreement and the subsequent constitutional changes in Macedonia elevated the status of the Albanians, and further institutional reforms took place, including decentralization in local government. Although Kosovo remained officially under the international...

  12. Conclusions: Lessons Learned About Informally Institutionalized Conflict Dynamics
    (pp. 203-230)

    Two questions have guided this book in its quest to understand the sources, agents, structures, and mechanisms that drive and sustain ethnonational conflicts over time. Why do ethnonational conflicts reach different degrees of violence? Why do they persevere even after strong international intervention for conflict resolution and institution building? Applying the theoretical approach of historical institutionalism, I derive answers from three cases: Serb-Albanian relations in Kosovo, Macedonian Slav-Albanian relations in Macedonia, and Bulgarian-Turkish relations in Bulgaria. They shared a number of characteristics at the end of communism, including a similar constellation between Orthodox Christian majorities and Muslim minorities, deep penetration...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 231-264)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 265-304)
  15. Index
    (pp. 305-311)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 312-314)