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Strategies of Secession and Counter-Secession

The Quadric Nexus of European Minority Politics

Robert Sata
Central European University
Robert Sata
Central European University

Nationalism is an essential characteristic of our modern world, yet the status of national minorities remains a challenge for both domestic and international actors. This paper is led by an intention to construct a normative framework of majority-minority relations that moves beyond minority protection towards minority empowerment. Since ethnic relations are characterized both as intra- and inter-state relations, identity-based politics is among the nationalizing/home state of the majority, the minority, the kin-state or lobby actor of the minority, and the actors on the international level. Inter-group interactions within this quadric nexus have to face three strategic dilemmas in order to avoid breakout of violence: information failures, credible commitment problems, and the security dilemma that can all be overcome only with the involvement of a third-party actor such as Europe. Securitization of inter-ethnic relations is a dead-end because employing the conflict prevention perspective can only lead to ‘negative peace,’ while the internationalization of minority rights can both promote an active role for outside actors, as well as influence what type of strategies are available to other actors. As such, it is not domestic but international instruments that have the greatest promise for minority empowerment that can be achieved only if minority accommodation is based not on discretionary domestic policies and ad-hoc compromises to maintain international stability, but on considerations of justice. I argue that (internationally provided) minority rights provide for both a process of multicultural appreciation among the groups and for the strengthening of the unity of the polity. Unfortunately, Europe seems to shy away from its role in interethnic policy making and European standards are often interpreted only as minimal forms of minority protection. The most important promise of today’s increased emphasis on pluralism and divided sovereignty is that it provides for a greater discursive space for minority empowerment.
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