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Strategic Rebellion

Ethnic Conflict in FYR Macedonia and the Balkans


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 4The Strategic Environment 113


Chapter 4 The Strategic Environment State Strength and External Legitimacy Without the existence of certain preconditions, or enabling factors, the emergence of organized forms of violence would be less likely, regardless of any existing forms of deprivation. From 1991, state-building ef forts in FYR Macedonia were almost entirely swamped by economic dif ficulties, social hardship and political corruption. Most importantly, the new post- Yugoslav republic lacked a functioning economy, while state and democratic institutions existed only at a rudimentary level. Furthermore, the political system in FYR Macedonia lacked the consensual culture and democratic tradition that would allow for the dif ferent ethnic communities to progress in democratic ways. At the very outset of the new country’s independence, there was an evident lack of social cohesion and consensus over what organ- izing principles should determine the contest for state power and how that power should be executed (Biljana Vankovska, 2004). The state demon- strated a remarkably low capacity to provide for all citizens, and there was a significant democratic deficit in the state institutions, ref lected in the perceived and real levels of public corruption and institutional weakness. Notably, ethnic minorities, and in particular the Albanians, interpreted the lack of capacity to address popular expectations as a failure of political will. On top of these structural deficiencies, the turbulent relations in the area put pressure on a still immature culture of consensus at home. From 1991 onwards, external economic and political pressures inf luenced greatly the internal political agenda, thereby inf...

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