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Strategic Rebellion

Ethnic Conflict in FYR Macedonia and the Balkans

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Pavlos Ioannis Koktsidis

Since the end of the Cold War, the consolidation of peace and security in south-eastern Europe has been one of the most complex and troublesome issues facing the international community. The sequence of conflicts in the Balkans has resulted in serious loss of life, economic collapse, and a number of controversial interventions, leading contemporary scholars to reconsider old perceptions about violent ethnic conflict. Drawing on a wealth of theoretical and empirical sources, this book tackles some of the prevailing questions on the root causes and management of ethnic conflict. Under what conditions do ethnic minorities become violent? How credible are the theories of «relative deprivation» and «greed» in explaining the outbreak of conflict? Is the use of coercive diplomacy a superior alternative to direct military forms of intervention? This book provides an analytical account of the socio-economic roots of ethnic conflict, the opportunities for violent mobilization and the success of strategic coercion in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and it also examines related developments in Kosovo and the Balkans.

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Chapter 1Ethnic Conf lict from a Strategic Perspective 11

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Chapter 1 Ethnic Conf lict from a Strategic Perspective Ethnic conf lict is a particular kind of dispute about political, economic, social, cultural and territorial issues (or a combination of all these) between two or more ethnic groups characterized by distinct strengths and weak- nesses in a constant struggle for survival and strategic advancement. Amongst a multiplicity of theories attempting to explain the emergence and violent transformation of ethnic conf lict, we distinguish the predominant theory of relative deprivation due to its interpretive depth and empirical rigour, as well as for the constant and intense criticism this theory has attracted. The theory of relative deprivation brings in an enduring account of what many people, – regardless of ethnic, racial, or social background, – may feel, or think of their personal lives and fortunes. In many instances, people’s feelings and reactions are based on perceptions that the circum- stances of their lives are not providing benefits to which they feel entitled. Such perceptions may equally apply to relatively privileged individuals or members of groups who may believe that they deserve a better treatment or future. Today most analysts are convinced that these perceptions of dis- content, no matter if accurate or f lawed, are typically created and measured in comparative perspectives and determined by subjective expectations and capabilities. In fact, the depth of deprivation and the intensity of frustra- tion it creates are often determined by comparing one’s own position to another’s (Runciman, 1966:15). Basically, the theory presumes that the more individuals...

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