MERWBKBS - Patterns and management of ethnic relations in the Western Balkans and the Baltic States

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This study will compare the management of ethnic relations in two Western Balkan states (Serbia and Croatia) with the management of ethnic relations in two Baltic republics (Latvia and Estonia). It will concentrate on: (a) the legal and institutional infrastructures on minority rights; (b) the impact of domestic and external actors on the management of ethnic relations. This research is placed inside the framework of the EU’s enlargement. Latvia and Estonia have been EU memberstates since 2004. Croatia joined the EU in 2013 whereas accession negotiations with Serbia commenced in October 2011. By conducting research on two different post-Communist settings (two post-Yugoslav and two post-Soviet states) this comparative project will provide new insights in conflict resolution and the management of ethnic relations in the new and the aspiring EU member-states. Research questions: (a) How do the Western Balkan and Baltic models for managing ethnic relations compare to each other and to European standards? (b) How does the intersection between domestic and external actors impact on the management of ethnic relations in the Western Balkans and the Baltic States?


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    Ethnopolitics Across Central and Eastern Europe in a State of Flux: Time for Updating and Upgrading?
    (2020) Petsinis, Vassilis
    This chapter illustrates why and how the existing theoretical models in the study of ethnopolitics need to be updated in light of the latest developments and the increasing impact of new catalysts. These are, namely, anti-immigration and the rise of the populist and radical right across Central and Eastern Europe. This chapter hints that the more systematic cooperation between academic experts in nationalism and academic experts in the populist and radical right will enable: (a) the former to assess more accurately the degree to which new variables such as Euroscepticism and anti-immigrant trends can reshape ethnopolitics, both as a living reality and a field of study, across Central and Eastern Europe; (b) the latter to formulate new interpretative models about how (right-wing) populist and Eurosceptic actors embed their agendas inside the pre-existing political cultures of nationalism and particularistic identity and memory politics. This chapter introduces and outlines the ethnosymbolic approach as well as the triadic and quadratic configurations of ethnopolitics. Then, it proceeds into a more empirical assessment of the applicability of these theoretical approaches in a series of case studies during the 1990s, as well as the more recent emergence of new catalysts and the ensuing necessity to update and upgrade the existing theoretical models.
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    National Identity in Serbia. Vojvodina and a Multiethnic Society between the Balkans and Central Europe
    (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019) Petsinis, Vassilis
    This book introduces a European region that not a lot has been written about in the English-language academic literature: the Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina. Considering that modern Serbian nationalism was largely ‘born’ there, Vojvodina is a territory with a historical symbolism of high significance for the development of Serbian national identity. However, Vojvodina’s multiethnic composition and different historical experience, in comparison to Serbia proper, also encouraged the formation of a distinct regional identity. During the Communist era, Vojvodina’s identity was institutionally readjusted through its establishment, together with Kosovo, as one of the two autonomous provinces within Serbia. This book critically outlines the evolution and the redefinitions of Vojvodina’s identity through time. The pattern of ethnic relations in this region is highly unique. Although Vojvodina hosts approximately 25 ethnic communities (including a sizeable and politically organized Hungarian minority), besides the Serbian majority, it is by no means an ethnically divided society. Alongside separate ethnic group cultures, a trans-ethnic cultural substratum, which manifests in the form of Vojvodinian regional identity, is present. Intercultural cohabitation has been a living reality in Vojvodina through time and it is largely to account for the lower propensity to ethnic conflict, in comparison to other parts of the former Yugoslavia, during the turbulent 1990s. This more ‘integrated’ pattern manifests through the lower impact of territorial segregation and ethnic distance, as well as the higher frequency of intermarriage in urban and rural settlements alike. This book explores in depth Vojvodina’s intercultural realities and illustrates how these have facilitated the introduction of flexible and regionalized legal models for the management of ethnic relations in Serbia since the 2000s. This regional monograph also casts its focus on fresh developments (most notably, the recent arrival of war refugees from Syria and Iraq) and measures the impact that these have been exerting on social stability and inter-group relations in the province. Furthermore, this book introduces a distinct variant of regionalism. By contrast to other European regionalisms, entrenched either into a core ethno-nationalism (e.g. the Basque and Catalan cases in Spain) or Eurosceptic/xenophobic narratives (e.g. Lega Nord in Italy), Vojvodinian regionalism, as a sociopolitical phenomenon, has been exerting an appeal that cuts across ethno-cultural boundaries. This is a study of ‘small places with big issues’ (yet not a micro-history) highly recommended for political scientists and historians with an expertise in Serbia, the former Yugoslavia, Southeast and Central Eastern Europe as well as the thematic areas of regionalism, nationalism and European Politics.
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    Converging or diverging patterns of Euroscepticism among political parties in Croatia and Serbia
    (Routledge, 2019) Petsinis, Vassilis
    This article is a comparative study on the patterns of Euroscepticism encountered among the political parties of Croatia and Serbia. Primary attention is paid to the employment of Euroscepticism from within the halls of power by the ruling parties of Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and the Serbian Progressive Party/SNS. Secondary attention is paid to the employment of Euroscepticism by smaller parties with a populist and/or a radical right-wing orientation. This article demonstrates that whereas Euroscepticism among Croatia’s political parties appears to be rather multifaceted (with a focus on domestic minority issues, gender-related themes, and economic anxieties), the Euroscepticism of Serbian political parties has become ‘single-issue’ with a major stress on geopolitics. Nevertheless, the governing apparatuses of Croatia and Serbia converge in their adaptive and pragmatic employment of Euroscepticism. This consists of the occasional employment of soft versions of revisionist Euroscepticism in Croatia and a gradualist Euroscepticism, which is contested by the rejectionist voices of the radical right, in Serbia. This phenomenon demarcates the tactical and situationally adaptive adjustments of HDZ and SNS from the more ideological and pervasive dominance of socially conservative agendas among ruling parties of the conservative right in the Visegrad Four states (e.g., FIDESZ and PiS).
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    Between party-systems and identity-politics: the populist and radical right in Estonia and Latvia
    (Taylor & Francis Online, 2019) Petsinis, Vassilis; Braghiroli, Stefano
    The article explores party-based populist and radical right looking at the cases of Latvia’s National Alliance (NA) and of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE). The research question is: How does the intersection between the specificities of party-systems and particularistic identity-politics either facilitate or complicate the political engagements of EKRE and NA? This piece demonstrates that whereas the Latvian party-system provides the opportunity structure for the inclusion of NA as a legitimate partner into the government coalition, Estonia’s mainstream political parties keep on excluding EKRE from the halls of power. This occurrence is highly subject to the different ways that the two-party systems have been dealing with parties suspected of pro-Kremlin leanings (Estonia: Eesti Keskerakond/Centre Party; Latvia: Saskaņa/Harmony). Meanwhile, the socio-psychological campaigns of both EKRE and NA over immigration and the refugee crisis tend to interlink these two policy-areas with the collective memories of ‘colonization’ under the Soviets and the collective anxieties of becoming ‘colonized’ again by others. This socio-psychological strategy has enabled both parties to augment their public appeal.
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    Ethnopolitics in Central and Eastern Europe in a State of Flux
    (Taylor & Francis Online, 2019) Petsinis, Vassilis
    This is the introduction to a special section based on selected contributions for the ‘Ethnopolitics in Central and Eastern Europe in a State of Flux’ international conference (UPTAKE research consortium, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia, February 9th- 10th, 2018).
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    Geopolitics, Ethnopolitics and the EU: The Cases of Serbia and Latvia
    (Taylor & Francis Online, 2019) Petsinis, Vassilis
    This work is a study on the patterns of managing ethnic relations in Serbia and Latvia. It aims at enhancing the cross-regional exchange of knowledge between the Western Balkans and the Baltic States. This study demonstrates that as the bond between geopolitics and ethnopolitics grows more powerful, the liberalization of minority policies would become less feasible within a state. It also hints that the intersection between geopolitics and ethnopolitics should not be perceived as ‘fixed’ but it can be subject to fluctuations and readjustments. Therefore, the interaction between endogenous and exogenous actors can impact the engagement(s) by the EU in the field of minority rights to varying degrees and within different contexts.
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    Identity Politics and Right-Wing Populism in Estonia: The Case of EKRE
    (Taylor & Francis Online, 2019) Petsinis, Vassilis
    This case-study focuses on Estonia and introduces the populist and radical right-wing party of EKRE (Eesti Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond/Estonian Conservative People’s Party). It demonstrates that EKRE’s employment of identity politics over the refugee question and immigration is embedded inside the pre-existing frame of Estonian restoration and 'decolonization' nationalism. The party’s campaign over the refugee question and immigration interlinks the collective memories of 'colonization' under the Soviets with the collective anxieties of becoming 'colonized' again by others in the future. This socio-psychological strategy has facilitated EKRE in augmenting its public appeal and consolidating its status as a potent actor in Estonian politics.