A Case of Contested Sovereignty: Explaining Ethnic Conflict in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 1991-2002

Tatiana P. Rizova


In this paper, I explore why ethnic minorities engage in violence after gaining significant concessions from a ruling majority group. I use the case of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia because it allows me to evaluate the complex interaction of domestic and international causes in the emergence of ethnic violence. Instrumentalism and Lake and Rothchild’s ‘strategic dilemma’ approach provide important insights in explaining violence in Macedonia. I complement these two theoretical approaches with an analysis of the strategic setting in the Balkans prior to the eruption of violence in Macedonia. I argue that Macedonian and ethnic Albanian leaders took advantage of the external challenges to Macedonia’s sovereignty to mobilize their respective constituencies. The two groups’ elites helped radicalize inter-group perceptions, which incited ethnic violence.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/res.v3n2p73

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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