Status Quo, Reformist or Secessionist Politics: Explaining Minority Behavior in Multinational States
July 13, 2004
Minority groups have adopted one of three positions when interacting with their governments. One stance has been to accept the status quo, and another has been to press for moderate changes, such as increased cultural and political autonomy. A third position is more radical—to demand a state of their own. The purpose of this paper is to account for these differences in minority political objectives by comparing center-regional bargaining within four postcommunist ethnofederal states: Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabagh), Georgia (Southern Ossetia, Abkhazia and Adjaria), Russia (Chechnya, Dagestan and Tatarstan) and Serbia-Montenegro (Kosovo, Montenegro and Vojvodina). Two factors emerge as critical. The first is the outcome of regional struggles for political power between the nationalists and the communists. The other is whether international actors provide support to the minority region. Put succinctly: the more powerful the nationalists at the local level and the greater their international support, the more radical regional political demands and the more willing the center is to use military force.