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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 3Relative Deprivation 77

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Chapter 3 Relative Deprivation Socio-political oppression and economic decline produced a shared feeling of deprivation among the Albanians in socialist Yugoslavia, which ulti- mately caused intense frustration with the political system. The existence of real or perceived deprivation may indeed constitute a rational basis for the emergence of conf lict; however, the levels of real or perceived depriva- tion have not created the conditions for the outbreak of organized armed forms of confrontation, other than recurrent public riots and protests. In other words, relative deprivation may constitute a primal source of conf lict but does not necessarily produce organized forms of domestic warfare. Hence, this chapter examines the degree of relative deprivation in combination with those strategic factors thought to af fect the erup- tion of violence. The analysis establishes a correlation between deprivation and violence in the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia, based on the meas- uring of indices of political oppression and f luctuating levels of reported violence. Following this, we will examine in Chapter 5 the inf luence of three preconditions, which we believe facilitate the decision of deprived groups to use organized forms of violence: (a) state strength and denial of external state legitimacy, (b) rebel resources and (c) regional conf lict spillover. We argue that relative deprivation does adequately explain vio- lent conf lict, when enabled by such preconditions. The combination of relative deprivation and strategic preconditions is the most appropriate and convincing explanation for the appearance and increase of violent intra-state conf lict....

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