The end of the conflicts in Bosnia (1995) and Kosovo (1999) created for NATO an important place in the post-conflict ‘peace-building’ that represents a sustained effort to create a new international order in South East Europe. The idea that such peace-building efforts involve attempts to inculcate norms and values is a key feature of the process and a significant source of controversy. Just as NATO’s ‘humanitarian intervention’ over Kosovo highlighted the normative tension between the doctrine of non-intervention in sovereign states versus efforts to promote respect for human rights that transcend state boundaries, the subsequent efforts at peace-building have revealed other normative conundrums. For NATO and other international institutions, this has made South East Europe a normative labyrinth where democracy, ‘stateness’, identity and security are difficult to bring together. Oliver Richmond argues that the resulting tension creates ‘a normative discourse … focusing on humanitarianism, culture and identity, and motivated by a need to regain “order” and protect the status quo on the part of the dominant actors of the international system’.1
NATO has taken a prominent security role in the international attempts to make work the political settlements in Bosnia, Kosovo and, to a lesser extent, Macedonia. It is worth considering the prospects for the long-term success of the Alliance’s objectives of underwriting military security in the region while at the same time upholding the norms aimed at developing democratic states with multicultural identities that lay at the heart of these settlements. This chapter will examine the international attempts at peace-building in the former Yugoslavia2 by focusing on the challenges to efforts to bring lasting stability posed by democratisation, ethnic nationalism and the promotion of security.
NATO’s peace-building roles in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia
The deployment of the NATO IFOR to Bosnia in 1995 in the wake of the Dayton agreement and associated UNSC Resolutions marked the beginning of the Alliance’s role in peace-building in the region. Reaching peak strength of 60,000, IFOR existed for a one-year mission before transforming itself into the smaller Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in December 1996. SFOR was initially given a mandate for eighteen months but this has been extended repeatedly, giving the operation a virtually open-ended timeframe. The improving security situation has allowed significant reductions in SFOR. Between 1996 and 1999 it stood at 32,000 personnel, with its deployed level in early 2002 standing at about 20,000. This represented about one-third of the original IFOR strength.3
The second major, and now concurrent, peace-building operation for NATO began in June 1999 with the deployment of KFOR, at an initial strength of nearly 50,000 and an open-ended time commitment in its peace-building role.4 Three years after its initial deployment, KFOR strength had dropped to approximately 35,000 with further reductions to around 30,000 being mooted.5 In addition to SFOR and KFOR, NATO deployed troops to Macedonia from the summer of 2001 to assist in ending the insurgency in that country and to support the implementation of the internal political settlement.6 Although small in overall numbers, the Macedonian deployments form part of a much larger pattern of NATO troop commitments in the region.
NATO’s considerable investment in manpower, resources and time in the former Yugoslavia is directed, as noted, toward the overall objective of peace-building. This concept originated in former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s report called An Agenda for Peace, first published in 1992. In An Agenda for Peace, Boutros-Ghali defined peace-building as ‘action to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict’.7 It is clear that the essence of this definition has shaped that employed by NATO, which states that:
Peace building covers actions that support political, economic, social, and military measures and structures, aiming to strengthen and solidify political settlements in order to redress the causes of conflict. This includes mechanisms to identify and support structures that tend to consolidate peace, advance a sense of confidence and well being, and support economic reconstruction.8
A more succinct definition describes peace-building as having the overall aim ‘to transform conflicts constructively and to create a sustainable peace environment’.9
It is clear from these definitions that peace-building embraces a broad spectrum of activity in the military, political, social and economic spheres. Charles-Philippe David has argued that the full gamut of peace-building activity falls into three key areas: ‘security transition’, ‘democratic transition’ and ‘socio-economic transition’.10
The broad agenda of peace-building is well illustrated by the declaratory aims of NATO’s engagement in Bosnia and Kosovo. For example, the published statement of the SFOR mission in Bosnia takes the NATO forces into areas of peace-building not strictly militarily orientated:
The Stabilisation Force (SFOR) will deter hostilities and stabilise the peace, contribute to a secure environment by providing a continued military presence in the Area of Responsibility (AOR), target and coordinate SFOR support to key areas including primary civil implementation organisations, and progress towards a lasting consolidation of peace, without further need for NATO-led forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina.11
A similar pattern of broad involvement in peace-building can also be seen in the mission of KFOR. Key elements include to:
- establish and maintain a secure environment in Kosovo, including public safety and order
- monitor, verify and when necessary, enforce compliance with the conditions of the Military Technical Agreement and the UCK [KLA] Undertaking [to disarm]
- provide assistance to the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), including core civil functions until they are transferred to UNMIK.12
From the missions of both SFOR and KFOR several important features can be observed. Although the missions are broadly couched to support an array of peace-building activity, the role of SFOR and KFOR in the ‘security transition’ constitutes the core activity. Deterring a resumption of hostilities and the demilitarisation and demobilisation of warring parties are security functions which both SFOR and KFOR have played major and positive roles in carrying through, particularly in the early phases of their deployment. SFOR and KFOR have also played a part in ensuring public safety and order, although this is only an explicit part of the mission in the case of KFOR.13 What is especially striking about these forces’ place in the security transition in Bosnia and Kosovo is the range of levels at which NATO forces contribute to the maintenance of security. The impact of the Alliance’s part in peace-building touches the regional, state, substate and individual levels of security.14
Although NATO is contributing to the ‘socio-economic transition’ dimension of peace-building in both Bosnia and Kosovo, it is the political settlement or ‘democratic transition’ that is central to the success or failure of peace-building efforts. The political dimension is shaped above all by a set of norms that provide the essential framework of the peace-building process and give the most important criteria for measuring success. The security and socio-economic aspects of peace-building support this normative component of the political settlement. Therefore, NATO’s contributions to peace-building in the region have to be measured against the prospects of success or failure in the establishment of the norms inherent in the political transition. For the success of the overall efforts at peace-building, establishing and entrenching the norms is the crucial variable. As David has stressed, ‘the merit of peace building thus hinges on its capacity to change a potential or actual strife-ridden situation to a state of durable peace’.15
Normative underpinnings: from Dayton to the Stability Pact
Dayton agreement: democracy, human rights and multiculturalism for Bosnia?
The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, initialled in Dayton, Ohio in November 1995 and formally signed in Paris one month later, brought to an end the armed conflict and initiated a process of peace-building in Bosnia. The Dayton agreement as it has since been known, provided for a comprehensive political settlement to the bloodiest European conflict since the end of the Second World War. The conflict had resulted in thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes by ethnic cleansing and physical destruction of property and infrastructure on a scale not seen in Europe for forty years. In addition to ending the violence, the Dayton agreement sought the promotion of long-term stability by attempting to reverse the bitter legacy of the Bosnian conflict. It was this raison d’être that led to the norms of democracy, human rights and multiculturalism being woven into the fabric of its text.
Annex 4 of the agreement, detailing the ‘Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina’, clearly envisaged the creation of a post-conflict democracy. It stated that ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be a democratic state, which shall operate under the rule of law and with free and democratic elections’. The human rights regime in Bosnia was to be uncompromising in its rigour of application. ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina and both Entities’, stated Annex 4, ‘shall ensure the highest level of internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms’. All of these aims were consistent with trends in the international settlement of post-Cold War conflicts that made democratisation and enhancement of human rights important elements of the post-conflict peace-building process. Given the Bosnian conflict’s large-scale ethnic cleansing, another key normative feature embedded in the Dayton agreement was the re-building of a multicultural society. To this end, Annex 4 made constitutional provision that ‘all refugees and displaced persons have the right freely to return to their homes of origin’.16
Another annex created a number of mechanisms to foster the return of refugees and displaced persons. The mechanisms contained in Annex 7 included measures against discrimination and harassment with international monitoring by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).17 This strong commitment to rebuild a multicultural Bosnia, however, suffered from an inherent contradiction within the General Framework Agreement insofar as it made legitimate two separate ‘entities’ with their own political institutions within the Bosnian state.18 In a de facto way, the entities reflected the outcome of the conflict in terms of ethnic cleansing and population displacement.19 It was difficult to disguise the fact that the federal structure of Bosnia contained in reality two separate states with two separate armies. Richard Holbrooke, who played a key role in the reaching of the Bosnia settlement, considered this aspect of the Dayton agreement a ‘flaw’.20 The confederal structure of the Bosnian state has worked against the unitary norms at the heart of the Dayton political settlement.
Democratisation and a multicultural society in Kosovo?
In June 1999, UNSC Resolution 1244 initiated the peace-building process for Kosovo. The end of the conflict there yielded not so much a final settlement as a skeleton process that was supposed to lead, eventually, to a political settlement. Despite a paucity of detail, Resolution 1244 nevertheless planted much the same normative seeds as the Dayton agreement. The main text of the Resolution stressed that the ‘international civil presence’ had the role of ‘protecting and promoting human rights’ and ‘assuring the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosovo’. The implications of this requirement were to restore the pre-conflict multicultural society in Kosovo such as it had existed (with around 90 per cent of the population being ethnic Albanians).
Annex 2 of Resolution 1244 contained the most substance as regards an ultimate political settlement. Here it was made clear that establishing democracy was part of the international community’s intention for Kosovo’s future. This annex provided for the:
establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo as a part of the international civil presence under which the people of Kosovo can enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to be decided by the Security Council of the United Nations. The interim administration to provide transitional administration while establishing and overseeing the development of provisional democratic self-governing institutions to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants in Kosovo.
It would seem, therefore, that ‘democratic self-governing institutions’ were to be established within a Kosovo forming part of the FRY. The context was, in fact, not so clear cut. Elsewhere in the text of Annex 2, the eventual context for the development of democracy in Kosovo was more ambiguous. It foresaw:
a political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework agreement providing for substantial self-government for Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of the region, and the demilitarization of UCK. Negotiations between the parties for a settlement should not delay or disrupt the establishment of democratic self-governing institutions.21
It is important to remember that the Rambouillet accords held out the possibility of eventual independence for Kosovo. The reference in Resolution 1244 to the ‘principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of the region’, however, suggested otherwise with its implicit tilt toward the maintenance of the territorial status quo and hence Kosovo in the FRY. This contradictory element regarding the political and territorial future of Kosovo injects a major degree of uncertainty. The Dayton settlement arguably created too many entities or states in the context of Bosnia, but in the case of Resolution 1244 there is no clear determination on the future status of Kosovo in terms of potential statehood.
The question of the future of Kosovo is tied to wider problems in the region. Resolution 1244 linked the resolution of the issue of Kosovo to the need for a region-wide approach. This found expression in the creation of the so-called ‘Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe’.
The Stability Pact: aims, process and democratic agenda
During the 1990s, the various conflicts in the former Yugoslavia sent tremors of potential instability throughout the wider South East European region. The consequences for neighbouring states of the Yugoslav conflicts could be seen in such things as the economic costs associated with loss of trade and the social pressures of having to host, in some cases, sizeable refugee populations. It was this wider perspective of regional problems that prompted the international community to launch the Stability Pact process in 1999. It was designed to do two things. First, to address the issues facing the South East European region as a whole and not simply particular areas such as Bosnia and Kosovo. Second, to initiate a process that would effectively integrate the peace-building and stability-enhancement efforts of interested governments and international and non-governmental organisations.
The normative dimension of the Stability Pact signifies an extension of those norms embedded in Dayton and the Kosovo agreements. At the heart of the Stability Pact, launched on 10 June 1999 in Cologne, are norms of democracy, multiculturalism and human rights. The major difference from earlier peace-building initiatives is the broader political agenda to impart them in the region. In the eyes of the pact’s promoters, the norms are viewed as essential building blocks to a more stable and secure order both within and between states in this part of Europe.
The European Union was the initiator of the Stability Pact process on the eve of the end of Operation Allied Force. Its Cologne summit sought to bring into existence an integrated and comprehensive approach to political, social and economic reconstruction.22 In the summit’s final communiqué, the central and certainly ambitious stated aim of the Stability Pact was to achieve ‘lasting peace, prosperity and stability for South Eastern Europe’. The Stability Pact process is meant to operate as a ‘framework for co-ordination’ for the multifarious participants engaged in the project. Organisationally, the Stability Pact created four ‘Working Tables’. They are: the South Eastern Europe Regional Table; the Working Table on Democratisation and Human Rights; the Working Table on Economic Reconstruction, Development and Co-operation and, finally, the Working Table on Security Issues. The Regional Table is the co-ordinating body for the other three tables.23 The Stability Pact process received the endorsement of its regional participants a month later in a follow-up summit in Sarajevo, which formally launched its organisational machinery. Tasked with the role of providing over-arching direction for the process was a Special Co-ordinator appointed by the Council of the European Union but coming under the auspices of the OSCE on a day-to-day basis. Bodo Hombach, a German diplomat, was appointed as the first Special Co-ordinator at the Sarajevo summit.24
The introduction of democracy, economic prosperity and security into the South East European region thus form the core objectives of the Stability Pact. Moreover, the Stability Pact’s ‘headline goals’ embrace a number of other norms related to democracy; including human rights, multiculturalism and the fair treatment of national minorities. The Cologne summit communiqué illustrated the centrality of these norms in the Stability Pact’s goals. It spoke of the aims of the pact being to:
- bring about mature democratic political processes, based on free and fair elections, grounded in rule of law and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, the right to free and independent media, legislative branches accountable to their constituents, independent judiciaries [and the] deepening and strengthening of civil society
- preserve the multinational and multiethnic diversity of countries in the region, and protecting minorities
- ensure the safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes.
In a sweeping vision of the democratic ambitions of the Stability Pact process, the summit document also unabashedly concluded that ‘lasting peace in South Eastern Europe will only become possible when democratic principles and values, which are already actively promoted by many countries in the region, have taken root throughout, including the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’.25
The most important vehicle for the accomplishment of these normative aims is Working Table I, on Democratisation and Human Rights. Working Table I sets out the following as its primary task in its work plan:
The main strategic aim of the Working Table on Democratisation and Human Rights is to anchor democracy and respect for human rights throughout the region, including by institutionalising OSCE commitments and principles in the countries in the region, also through membership of the Council of Europe, including accession to its Convention on Human Rights and implementation in practice of its political and human rights codes, where appropriate.26
In order to deliver on these aims, the Working Table has created a number of ‘task forces and initiatives’ covering areas such as human rights and national minorities; good governance; gender issues; media; education and youth; refugee returns and parliamentary exchange.27 This ambitious agenda requires resources and, as a consequence, Working Table I obtained initially 165 million Euros (£100 million) to finance its projects.28 As indicated above, Stability Pact norms, rather unsurprisingly, reflect the democratic and human rights norms embedded in the major international treaties and agreements of the OSCE and the Council of Europe. The significance of this link is to ground them in the wider norms of the international system.
The Stability Pact’s democratic and multicultural norms, like those enshrined in the Dayton and Kosovo settlements, are being promoted in a region that has recently experienced the brutal consequences of ethnic nationalism. This ethnic nationalism in South East Europe must be reckoned with in attempts to impart democratic norms to build stability. The introduction of these norms brings into sharp focus an important challenge. The success or failure of attempts to impart democratic norms depends on how nationalism is understood by both the norm givers and their recipients. Therefore it is necessary to examine the meaning of ideas of nationalism and ethnicity and how they impact on the democratic and multicultural norms which are the foundation of international peace-building efforts in the former Yugoslavia.
Friend or foe? Nationalism’s relationship to democratic norms
Nationalism remains a field of study that is ‘vast and ramified’.29 Yet, despite the varieties of meanings and academic approaches involved in the study of nationalism and ethnicity, there is a dominant orthodoxy. It sees national or ethnic identities as being ‘situational’ and the ‘property of individuals rather than of collectivities’.30 According to this view, national identity and ethnicity are secondary issues, able to be swept aside by more potent universal forces such as social class, economic development, global interdependence or secularisation.31 Anthony Smith, in his examination of the major strands of this dominant ‘modernist’ and ‘instrumentalist’ school has summarised them in the following manner:
First, nations and nationalism are regarded as inherently modern – in the sense of recent – phenomena; that is, they emerged in the last two hundred years, in the wake of the French Revolution. Second, nations and nationalisms are treated as the products of the specifically modern conditions of capitalism, industrialism, bureaucracy, mass communications and secularism. Third, nations are essentially recent constructs, and nationalisms are their modern cement, designed to meet the requirements of modernity. Finally, ethnic communities, or ethnies, to use a convenient French word, though much older and more widespread, are neither natural nor given in human history, but are mainly resources and instruments of elites and leaders in their struggles for power.32
For the instrumentalists, the nation is seen as the ‘imagined community’ of Benedict Anderson’s highly influential study of nationalism. This seductive phrase encapsulates the artificiality of nations and nationalism in the eyes of this school of thought. Anderson has argued that ‘the convergence of capitalism and print technology on the fatal diversity of human language created the possibility of a new form of imagined community, which in its basic morphology set the stage for the modern nation’.33
‘Primordialism’ stands in complete contrast to the instrumentalist school of thought. The primordial school, although of many hues, generally maintains that nations and consequently nationalism, are more deeply rooted in history and can be seen as organic; part of the naturally occurring order and representing unbreakable social bonds. Proponents of primordialism consider that ‘ethnic identities have biological and even genetic foundations, and that the motivation for ethnic and kinship affiliation comes from these socio-psychological forces internal to the individual and related to primordial human needs for security and, more importantly, survival’.34
The primordialist position has gained some fresh credibility as a consequence of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia but it has also been heavily criticised for its determinism.35 The primordialist camp certainly embraces a broad spectrum of views. Primordialist thought can encompass both ethnic nationalist extremists and more gentle academic observers. The common ground of this range of views is that nations and nationalism are seen to have qualities that are deeply rooted and unchanging.
Some work falls between the instrumentalist and primordialist schools. The work of Anthony Smith defines nationalism ‘as an ideological movement, for the attainment and maintenance of self-government and independence on behalf of a group’.36 Seen from the perspective of instrumentalism, his definition is entirely consistent with similar instrumentalist views. He sees the nation, nationalism and ethnicity as changeable and changing phenomena. Smith departs from the instrumentalist approach with his views concerning the deep-rooted and durable cultural qualities of national identity. He believes that these are firmly rooted in early modern ethnic communities, which he calls ‘ethnies’. He considers many cultural attributes, but for him language is clearly one of the most important elements of national identity:
Authenticity and dignity are the hallmarks of every aspect of ethnic culture, not just its ethno-history. Of these the best known and most important is language, since it so clearly marks off those who speak it from those who cannot and because it evokes a sense of immediate expressive intimacy among its speakers. The outstanding role played by philologists grammarians and lexicographers in so many nationalisms indicates the importance so often attached to language as an authentic symbolic code embodying the unique inner experiences of the ethnie. Though language is not the only significant aspect of the nation … it remains a vital symbolic realm of authentication and vernacular mobilisation.37
Smith’s thinking has some important implications. He underscores the diversity and staying power of nations and nationalism. While the instrumentalists see nationalism as a transitory phenomenon, overtaken by new forces such as globalisation, and the primordialists see nationalism as part of an enduring natural order, Smith argues that it is something that continues to have necessity and function within a ‘modern plural world order’.38 Moreover, Smith views nationalism as a phenomenon that is too complex to fit neatly into one distinct category or another. The broadness of Smith’s thinking was well reflected when he wrote that ‘no nation, no nationalism, can be seen as purely the one or the other, even if at certain moments one or the other of these elements predominates in the ensemble of components of national identity’.39
Applying a specific understanding of nationalism to problems in the international arena can have enormous implications. Yet, one of the reoccurring and trenchant criticisms of the international relations field concerns the relatively little attention that has been given to the problem of nationalism.40 Although the volume of literature on ethnic conflict has undoubtedly increased,41 it nevertheless is deficient in considering the basic assumptions about how nationalism is understood in the context of these conflicts. It is clear, however, that instrumentalist thinking dominates analysis of the international challenges posed by nationalism. This has important implications, not least for those attempting to measure the prospects of success or failure in introducing democratic norms in an area stricken with ethnic conflict. Importing norms based on an understanding of nationalism alien to the region might lead to some significant difficulties for the norm givers.
Nationalism, democracy and the state
The state stands at a significant crossroads in the debates on the issues related to democratic norms and nationalism. As Linz and Stepan have argued, ‘modern democratic governance is inevitably linked to stateness, without a state, there can be no citizenship; without citizenship, there can be no democracy’.42 The notion of citizenship is also central to the idea of ‘civic nationalism’; in a civic national identity it is one’s citizenship that determines national identity. Where civic nationalism prevails, the focus is on the individual rather than any collective ethnic identity:
In a liberal democracy the individual is taken as the cornerstone of the deeply divided society while ethnic affiliations are ignored by the state. All individuals are accorded equal civil and political rights and judged by merit. They compete and are free to mix, integrate, assimilate, or alternatively form separate communities as long as they do not discriminate against others. The privatization of ethnicity in liberal democracy maximizes individual rights but minimizes collective rights.43
Examples of countries that embrace civic nationalism are the United Kingdom and the United States. These states possess a civic national identity where democracy, citizenship and national identity are closely intertwined with the state. With the individual’s rights at the centre, the combination of democracy and civic nationalism is meant to minimise the potential conflict within the ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity contained within the state’s borders. This model, however, has broader implications beyond the borders of particular states where civic nationalism prevails.
Civic nationalism is also reflected in the international norms relevant to democracy and national identity. In terms of the ‘internationalisation’ of minority rights, the emphasis on the individual rather than collective rights has prevailed in the post-Second World War period.44 Previously, in the broad sweep of history, the evolution of international minority rights law was grounded in the treatment of religious minorities; suggesting more of a collective thrust to minority rights than one centred on the individual.45 Nevertheless, present-day norms largely reflect the experience of states possessing a civic form of nationalism. This reality raises some important questions about civic nationalism. How effective is it in preserving ethnic identity while preventing inter-communal conflict among disparate groups within the state? Can democracy only exist alongside civic nationalism?
In addressing the first question, the record of democratic states possessing a civic nationalism is seen as being generally good. They are seen as being inclusive of minority groups while integrating them into an overarching civic nationalist identity. Not all analysis, however, sees civic nationalism as being completely benign in its treatment and respect for the identities of ethnic minorities. Indeed, some critics have identified serious shortcomings in the democratic-civic nationalism model. Hans Köchler has argued that:
The traditional nation-state is based on an authoritarian ideology in terms of the ethnic, religious and regional status of the individual (the citizen). This ideology corresponds to a centrist power structure and to the regrettable fact that population groups which differ from majority populations (in terms of their ethnic, religious, cultural orientation and so forth) do not enjoy equal rights.46
What is clear is that under the civic nationalism model, the majority group has the ability to impose a collective identity at the expense of other ethnic groups in the state.
Anthony Smith has gone further, in arguing that civic nationalism offers no better alternative than its ethnic counterpart on the crucial matter of its treatment of minorities:
The common view fails to grasp the nature of civic nationalism. From the standpoint of affected minorities, this kind of nationalism is neither as tolerant nor as unbiased as its self-image suggests. In fact, it can be every bit as severe and uncompromising as ethnic nationalisms. For civic nationalisms often demand, as the price for receiving citizenship and its benefits, the surrender of ethnic community and individuality, the privatization of ethnic religion and the marginalization of the ethnic culture and heritage of minorities within the borders of the national state.47
The ‘price for receiving citizenship’ is expensive in terms of group identity according to Smith. He argues that it ‘delegitimizes and devalues the ethnic cultures of resident minorities … and does so consciously and deliberately’.48
The conventional wisdom regarding the second question suggests that democracy and civic nationalism have a symbiotic relationship. The existence of democracy in conditions of ethnic nationalism is seen as problematic, if not contradictory. In his Politics in Eastern Europe, George Schöpflin observed that:
The nation in its ethnic dimension functions in politics as a category that is connected primarily to the state and to definitions of identity. It is not the medium through which the multiplicity of cross-cutting and contradictory interests find articulation and, it is hoped, aggregation. Rather, the nation is a relatively static entity, as it must be if it is to act as the foundation of the community, and one that transcends everyday politics. The nation is sacralised and cannot be the subject of the bargains and compromises needed for the smooth functioning of democracy.49
Schöpflin, however, does not dismiss nationhood, or more specifically ‘ethnicity’, as unimportant to democracy. Indeed he argues that ‘democratic nationhood is composed of three key, interdependent elements: civil society, the state and ethnicity’. The central thrust of his argument is that ‘ethnicity, far from being an exaggerated or pathological condition is essential to certain aspects of nationhood and thus to democracy’.50
Jeff Richards has similarly argued against the view that only civic nationalism is compatible with liberal democratic norms. Not viewing this as credible, Richards has stressed that:
The attempt to make a rigid distinction between ‘good’ civic nationalism which is liberal democratic and ‘bad’ ethnic nationalism, which is organic, democratic is neither accurate nor helpful. One must synthesise rather than dichotomise between civic and ethnic/organic democracy. Ultimately the test of democracy is respect and toleration for individual choice and rights. In considering the relationship between citizenship and national identity the cognate concepts of ethnicity, nationality and citizenship must not be fused together. The tendency to do so, given the underlying assumptions of nationalism and the rationale of the nation-state, is very strong.51
Richards’ and Schöpflin’s departure from the conventional wisdom is supported by the fact that states exist that are practising ‘ethnic democracy’, a model that combines ‘a real political democracy with explicit ethnic dominance’.52 Many examples can be identified of democracy and ethnic nationalism existing together successfully. The post-Second World War FRG, Israel and the post-Communist Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia all bring together strong ethnic national identities and ‘real political democracy’. In these examples democratic aggregation of interests takes place in a largely monocultural ethnic state.
Despite what these examples suggest about the possibility of democracy operating successfully other than alongside a civic national identity, the most commonly held assumptions see civic nationalism as benign and argue that modern democracy cannot exist alongside anything but this type of nationalism in the international system. These assumptions form the foundation of the international norms concerning democracy and ethnicity as applied to peace-building in South East Europe. This is well illustrated by the example of a report spawned by the Stability Pact process. Working Table I produced a draft report on The Promotion of Multi-Ethnic Society and Democratic Citizenship in South Eastern Europe in February 2000. A team of advisors from the Council of Europe drafted this report, which was to form the basis of an ‘action plan’. During its preparation the team enjoyed the co-operation of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities and included a consultation process that saw a delegation travel to four states in South East Europe; Albania, Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia.
The report’s section headed ‘basic concepts and general objectives’ clearly contained certain assumptions regarding the type of nationalism best associated with democratisation:
The concept of ‘multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society’ is put forward as an important avenue for overcoming the problems which have resulted from an – often ethnocentric – thinking in rigid categories: a heritage of exclusivity, exclusion and compartmentalisation which did not allow for a genuine dialogue between all people, [or] a common forum (both in a political and in a social sense) for the articulation of the different wishes and needs and a common ground for living together.
The paper emphasised the need for the normative element outlined above to be moved into the realm of policy; ‘it is now urgent to move forward and re-create the pillars of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society’. This, it was argued, ‘should be done not in an ad hoc manner but through a principled approach on the basis of existing common European standards that are directly relevant and should be applied in each country’. As a consequence of these basic principles, two objectives were set out to guide Working Table I; ‘the promotion and, where necessary, rehabilitation of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, and the development of democratic citizenship’.
The report envisaged that these things be developed hand in hand; ‘these two objectives have to be seen in conjunction: multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society must be firmly rooted in a common effort to promote democratic values, especially equal citizenship rights and the equal empowerment of all citizens for sharing responsibility for the life of the country as a whole’. Multiethnic society and democratic citizenship, in the view of the report’s authors, have to be seen as ‘mainstreaming concepts’ and an ‘integral part of decision-making in all policy areas’.53 What this Stability Pact report demonstrates, when stated in the simplest terms, is that civic nationalism is regarded as good and ethnic nationalism as bad when juxtaposed against the entrenching of democracy.
The model suggested in the Stability Pact report concentrates only on the first of the three pillars (civil society) postulated in Schöpflin’s model of democracy and nationhood. Although the desirability of constructing a healthy civil society is much in evidence in the report, the inter-relationship with the state and ethnicity is conceived as a problem. The fact that states in South East Europe are weak – or have failed in some cases in former Yugoslavia – is attributed to a lack of legitimacy linked to the deleterious effects of ethnic nationalism.
The lack of legitimacy that underpins the weak or failed states in the region may not be a product of ethnic nationalism per se but, rather, the weakness of states and civil society in accommodating it. Hence ethnicity only becomes a ‘disease’ when other components of the body of the state are weak.54 The fixation on the civic model, moreover, may make it more difficult to establish democracies in conditions where ethnic nationalism prevails. While no one can deny the savagery that has attended ethnic nationalism in parts of the former Yugoslavia, to see ethnic nationalism as illegitimate and, in normative terms, as needing to be transmogrified into a civic identity assumed compatible with democracy in practice has produced its own difficulties. Indeed, the risk of imposing particular approaches or models in promoting democracy in post-conflict situations is increasingly recognised.55 How likely is it that these ‘mainstreaming concepts’ will succeed in building democracy and pushing into the background ethnic identity in the cases of Bosnia and Kosovo?
Democracy, nationalism and security in Bosnia and Kosovo
In the case of Bosnia, the construction of a multicultural democratic state, where ethnic nationalism has been supplanted by the supposedly more benign civic national identity has made very limited progress. Evidence of this can be seen in the poor rates of repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons to areas across the inter-entity lines (dividing the Serb Republic from the Muslim-Croat Federation). According to official statistics this has been very limited.
Statistics collected by the UNHCR or the Office of the High Representative (in effect the internationally appointed governor of Bosnia) do not always make clear how many people are refugees returning to Bosnia and how many are moving back to areas from which their group had been ethnically cleansed during the conflict. Despite this caveat, the reports of the High Representative to the UN Secretary-General from 1996 to 2002 do not give the impression that much progress has been achieved. Efforts to restore something akin to the pre-conflict multiethnic settlement pattern have not made significant progress toward meeting the normative goals.56
Although a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) argues that there has been some positive movement, most press reports argue that change has been more modest in scope.57 Indeed, pessimism seems to prevail as indicated by a Washington Post report that quotes an ICG official as saying that ‘the ethnic cleansers are winning the battle to shape postwar Bosnia’.58 Between 1995 and 1999, only 80,000 people out of the 600,000 that had returned to Bosnia had ‘gone to areas where their ethnic groups are in the minority’.59 Statistics published in a March 2002 report by the High Representative show ‘minority’ returns increasing, but it is too early to assess the significance of any apparent trend.60
NATO’s role in the military implementation of the Dayton agreement undoubtedly has registered important gains. The disarming of the warring parties, cantonment of weapons and the continued presence of SFOR have insured against any regression into conflict.61 In terms of establishing a longer-term basis for peace and stability in Bosnia, based on democratic norms and the promotion of a civic national identity, the progress has been far less encouraging, however. And, as David Bosco has perceptively commented, ‘for Bosnia, demographics is destiny’.62
The difficulties in establishing a multicultural civic national identity in Bosnia clearly impact on NATO’s efforts at peace-building, particularly if they are based on unaccepted norms. This has led to a major debate over whether the normative underpinnings of Dayton should be altered. In the case of Bosnia, it is an ‘integration or partition’ debate. Some commentators have argued that partition, or accepting ethnic separation, is the only viable solution after a terrible ‘ethnic war’.63 Others see such an approach as abhorrent, arguing that it legitimates ethnic cleansing and does not bring lasting stability.64 Pragmatic policy-makers, who have experience with Bosnian problems, see no option but to persist; with the present arrangements being the least bad option in terms of the risk of rekindling the conflict.65 In academic circles there has been a similar debate on the merits of integration versus partition. This has highlighted both the difficulties with the existing Dayton settlement and the risks of embarking on a new course.66
NATO’s and others’ efforts to restore and promote a multicultural Kosovo have met with even less success so far. With the entry of KFOR into Kosovo there followed a Serb exodus spurred on by fear and violent attacks on Serbian cultural and religious sites. This replaced the earlier flight of Albanians from Kosovo, before and during Operation Allied Force.67 It is estimated that around three-quarters of the pre-conflict Serb population has left the province, with approximately 100,000 Serbs remaining and living in a few enclaves.68 The tensions between the two communities inside Kosovo are violently symbolised by the sporadic conflict in the divided city of Mitrovica.69
In the face of the de facto separation or departure of the Serb population, some members of the international community continue to make vigorous efforts to keep remaining Serbs in situ or entice back those who have departed.70 Significantly, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo has been cautious about promoting the too-rapid return of Serb refugees in the absence of a secure environment.71 The demographic reality in Kosovo today makes the Albanians an absolute majority; making up approximately 95 per cent of the population. Kosovo thus possesses an ethnic uniformity that few states in Europe can claim.
As in the case of the integration versus partition debate concerning Bosnia, Kosovo has generated a similar discussion, more along the lines of ‘autonomy versus independence’.72 Separation from the FRY is a possibility included in UNSC Resolution 1244 as discussed earlier. The issue of statehood for Kosovar Albanians has huge implications not only for Kosovo, but also for the whole South East European region.73 Addressing this issue requires facing the possibility of redrawing the boundaries of at least one state in South East Europe. It is a prospect the international community traditionally has been reluctant to contemplate in addressing minority (or even majority) rights.74
Overall, the international projects to create or restore multicultural societies in Bosnia and Kosovo have seen little measurable progress to date. Similarly, the efforts to cultivate democratic citizenship have registered only modest gains in the face of collectivist ethnic identities and questions of self-determination. In Bosnia, the Dayton settlement at least provided for a state that could bestow citizenship on its peoples. Despite the retention of a common state structure with a common citizenship, however, individual identification remains strongly tied to ethnic groups and/or neighbouring states or nations such as Croatia and Serbia. Only the Muslim community has any clear affinity with the Bosnian state.75 In the case of Kosovo, the central obstacle to cultivating democratic citizenship is structural; if citizenship requires a state, then it is a basic condition currently lacking for the inhabitants of Kosovo. Kosovo is in a de jure sense still part of a Yugoslav state. This is a circumstance that has little or no legitimacy in the eyes of Kosovar Albanians. According to the conventional wisdom discussed earlier, democratic citizenship and the state are inextricably linked. Yet this is precisely what the Kosovar Albanians currently lack and the international community is not showing much desire to bestow statehood in the foreseeable future.
The sustained efforts of NATO and the international community to build a new and more peaceful international order in South East Europe raise some serious questions regarding the relationship between democracy, nationalism and ultimately security. The apparent difficulties in introducing democratic reforms and cultivating the civic national identity called for in the Dayton and Kosovo settlements and the Stability Pact can be attributed to the obduracy of ethnic nationalism.
General Jackson, the first commander of KFOR during 1999, offered some sobering thoughts on the difficulties of introducing democratic norms tied to a civic understanding of nationalism in the Kosovo context:
We have soldiers living in Serb apartments where they are isolated. We have permanent guards on all Orthodox churches and monasteries without which they would be burnt and bombed. We even escort little old ladies to the bread shop to buy their bread, but on the way a Kosovar Albanian teenager will give the sign of throat-slitting to her face. In terms of what outside intervention in the sense of soldiers, and policemen and civil administrators can achieve, what this tells me is that there is a limit: we’re talking about people’s attitudes, people’s perceptions – and that’s what needs to be changed if we are to achieve the concept which underpins 1244 of a new Kosovo: democratic, liberal, reconciled, multiethnic. I’m afraid that my deduction is that there’s a very long way to go indeed.76
Despite the stubborn persistence of ethnic nationalism in the face of international efforts to introduce a new normative base, analysts are sometimes dismissive of its importance and power. Susan Woodward, a well regarded observer of the Yugoslav conflicts, wrote that ‘the label of nationalism is not sufficient to describe a situation or predict behaviour … because of its empty-vessel character – its absence of programme outside the insistence on political power for some imagined community’.77 The difficulty in making inroads with international norms in places like Bosnia and Kosovo suggests that ethnic nationalism is far from being an ‘empty-vessel’ and it is an identity that will not easily be replaced. If this is the case, then it is likely to give international peace-building efforts in South East Europe a decidedly long-term character.
For NATO and other agencies engaged in peace-building, finding a means of making democratic norms accessible to those possessing an ethnic identity is the key to effectively tackling the security problems of the region. In this regard, a more differentiated approach to norm transmission may yield better long-term prospects for security and stability. It may also entail moving away from conventional western notions of multicultural society. Where ethnic groups have become separated by violence, it may be more desirable and practical to attempt to build democracy in a monoethnic context. The application of a solution based on such an approach could apply to the two entities of Bosnia and to Kosovo. Such solutions have been adopted in the past and they may be the only viable option.78
NATO’s efforts to try to prevent ethnic conflict from leading to civil war in Macedonia suggest that separation is not the first option to pursue if ethnically mixed communities remain mostly intact and not traumatised by brutal violence. Accepting ethnic separation as the starting point for introducing democratic norms in failed states and societies, however, is driven by the need to bring security not only to regions and states but also to individuals. If the need for individual human security and the promotion of democratic norms are best advanced together in a monoethnic setting, then the prize of long-term stability may prove less elusive. By matching norms to realities, the structural problems that have hitherto impeded international peace-building efforts in South East Europe could yet be swept away, to the benefit of security and stability in this troubled part of the world.