ETHNIC CONFLICTS IN CANADA AND FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ethnic diversity of  Canada and the former Yugoslavia show some similarities as well as differences. The origin of ethnic diversity in both societies is the combination of various historical facts. Both societies came into being as a result of fragmentation of conglomerates of power. Canada became a state as a result of fragmentation of British Empire, while the FY became a state as result of fragmentation of the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires.

 THE STRUCTURE OF ETHNIC RELATIONS

Both societies exhibited structural characteristics, which contributed to ethnic conflicts of varied intensity and violence.

In Former Yugoslavia (FY), there were multiple segments, not only those of different Federal Republics, but also segments within some of the republics. In addition, some of the segments exhibited characteristics of ethnic heterogeneity.

Canada is characterized by two major segments, those of English speaking and French speaking, with a third segment of Aboriginal population or First Nations including the Metis. In addition to this each of these major two segments is characterized by ethnic heterogeneity, in Canada is known as "multiculturalism" (sic.)

In both Canada and FY ethnic segmentation contributed to an increase in intensity of ethnic conflict.

In FY dictatorship by the Communist central power prevented any expression of nationalism and kept the intensity of ethnic conflict artificially low. The slogans of Brotherhood and Unity were in fact in contrast to the concentration of political, economic and military power in the capital Belgrade, which was also the Serbian capital. The Nations (segments) which generated most of the wealth of FY (Slovenia and Croatia) had little input to its distribution. The minority Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia were also over-represented in the position of political, police and military power. This led to further increases in conflict. However, expression of this conflict was subdued by Tito's regime. Although many Croats and Slovenes wanted more control over their own resources and independence in political matters, they were prevented from attaining these.

In Canada, the intensity of ethnic conflict rose as more and more French Canadians in Québec started articulating their desire to be recognized as one of the founding nations of Canada. There, the perception of inequality of two segments was most dramatic. English in Québec held economic power, were mostly Protestant and spoke only English. French were excluded from economic power, were Catholic and spoke French but had to have a working knowledge of English. This led to a further increase in intensity of ethnic conflict, which became violent with activities of the Front de Libération du Québec, FLQ. Some Québec nationalists considered the situation intolerable and demanded separation of Québec from Canada. The formation of the Parti Québécois, P.Q., legitimized the desire for separation. No longer had the separatists have to hide and act as an underground organization. Their cause became legitimate and the violence of conflict decreased.

The intensity of ethnic conflict is also relatively high between aboriginal population and the rest of Canada. It is so because the Aboriginals constitute a segment of the Canadian population and because they perceive to be in a subordinate position. The intensity of conflict has intensified since attempts were made to unite the conflicts of various native populations. If the Federal and various Provincial governments manage to keep the conflicts dissociated, the intensity of conflict is not going to increase as much as if the Aboriginals get united.

 

 HETEROGENEITY

Ethnic heterogeneity existed in FY in some of the republics but primarily in some urban centres whereby population of various nationalities lived and worked side-by-side. Although ethnic heterogeneity existed in Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia, Bosnia, as the ethnic map of that republic shows, it was particularly interesting in that respect for it provided a situation of ethnic heterogeneity more than any other part of FY. This, according to the model, should have provided ethnic conflict of low intensity. And it did, as long as groups were not organized politically, were leaderless and were unable to articulate their particular interests. There was only one political party, the Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina and membership consisted of Muslims, Croats and Serbs.

Bosnia is also interesting because the Muslims, some of whom previously considered themselves to be Croats (particularly during the World War II), now constituted a separate ethnic entity in opposition to Croats and Serbs. This can be offered as yet another indication that ethnicity is not a deterministic fixa but a flexible and manipulative category.

As soon as a democratization process took hold of Bosnian politics, political parties became ethnic-bound and conflict intensity increased. The Communist ideology of "Brotherhood and Unity" vanished. Muslims, under the leadership of Alija Izetbegovic envisioned Bosnia as a Muslim state where Serbs and Croats would be minorities. Serbs stood in opposition to this, envisioning Bosnia as an integral part of Greater Serbia, while Croats, particularly those in Western Herzegovina, considered themselves to be a part of Croatia. The nationalistic euphoria took hold of Bosnian politics while those who still wanted to have a modern pluralistic society were in the minority and were sidelined. The violent conflict that ensued was a conflict for the control of territory and resources and for ethnic purity. In that conflict, the Serbs had an advantage because they controlled the arms and supplies, which were constantly provided from Serbia. The "ethnic cleansing" (euphemism for genocide) which was started by the Serbs in Croatia, now spread to Bosnia. The ultimate result of "ethnic cleansing" is elimination the situation of ethnic heterogeneity and creation of ethnic segments. This then increases the intensity and violence of ethnic conflict.

 

Ethnic heterogeneity in the Canadian context exists as a result of the immigration of various non-British, non-French Europeans, Asians and Afro-Caribbean. In contemporary Canadian life this situation is usually referred to as "multiculturalism" and is given recognition in official government policies since first being introduced by the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (RCBB). As a result of anxiety expressed by non-British and non-French Canadians, the RCBB in its final report acknowledged the cultural pluralism (without defining the term culture) and presented Canada as a Bilingual State within Multicultural framework. As a consequence, the term multiculturalism has entered the vocabulary of federal and provincial government institutions, some social scientists and into the linguistic usage of the average Canadian citizen. Today, there is an advisory board on multiculturalism, there is talk about "multicultural" Canada and surveys and laboratory experiments are conducted on the Multiculturalism and Ethnic attitudes in Canada etc. "Multiculturalism" in Canada became an ideology or a state religion the same as "Brotherhood and Unity" in FY.

As was the case in the United States, this situation of ethnic heterogeneity in Canada contributed to the relatively low intensity of ethnic conflict. Non-British, non-French ethnic aggregates were for the most part, just quasi-groups. Even when their interests were articulated and the quasi- groups became genuine interest groups, the intensity of ethnic conflict between them and one of the "charter" groups was relatively low because the conflicts were dissociated. Each of the groups was fighting its own battle and they were not joining forces. As in the conflict between the English and the French, the conflict was about the dominant cultural-symbolic order and the resulting impediments to individual or collective upward mobility, in the context of Canadian public institutions.

The intensity of ethnic conflict in the situation of heterogeneity was also low, because the distribution of economic and status rewards were dissociated. This meant that while the entry into high level occupations and positions in government and large corporations was virtually restricted to non-Anglo-Celtics, they had the opportunity to create their own independent business élites, as there was no scarcity of resources. In addition, in the last few decades, these non-Anglo-Celtics, non-French groups, upon articulating their own interests, and on the basis of their newly acquired wealth started using democratic processes and their ethnic ties to gain entry into the corridors of political power.

The fact that all those various groups from the cultural mosaic of Canada did not "recognize themselves" in the cultural-symbolic order of their country contributed to the increase in the intensity of ethnic conflict. Nevertheless, the economic, political, and ballot power they acquired over the years and started using in the conflict, brought about desired changes. More than ever before, we see today more of the so called ethnic names on the benches of Parliament, in the Supreme Court, in various government agencies, commissions and Crown corporations.

The problem starts when a single group starts demanding special privileges, which are not granted to other groups. More and more it can be observed that in various working places, individuals coming from certain groups demand differential treatment on the basis of their differing customs, which according to the "multicultural" credo, they have the right to preserve. Sometimes, the "old customs" are invented to gain a privilege not given to others, as for example adopting distant relatives from a persons country of origin to circumvent immigration laws, or the giving of gifts to Government officials of the same ethnic origin to be rewarded with Government contracts and claiming that such behavior is a important feature of their culture. This leads to increase in intensity of ethnic conflict between various ethnic groups.

The designers of "multiculturalism" forgot perhaps that laws and rules of behaviour are a part of culture, and that society may have difficulty accommodating several different laws and rules of behavior, which may contradict each other.

The creation of non-ethnic interest groups, however, contributed to dissociation of conflicts and, according to the outlined model contributes to decrease in intensity of ethnic conflict, because there are too many groups claiming special status.

However, the most important contributing factor to the low intensity of ethnic conflict within Canadian ethnic heterogeneity (multiculturalism), is the availability of land, resources and rewards. When these become scarcer, the competition may assume ethnic character and intensity of conflict will increase.

 

 ETHNIC BOUNDARIES AND ENDOGAMY

Although in FY, in theory, ethnic boundaries were relatively open because one could declare him or herself a member of any ethnic group, in practice, this was not so. There were very few people born to Serbian parents in Croatia, for example, who declared themselves to be Croatian. The same could be said for the situation in other Republics.

In spite of anecdotal evidence of mixed marriages, they were relatively infrequent. In state censuses, those born in mixed ethnic marriages usually declared themselves to be "Yugoslavs". The fact that relatively few people in FY declared themselves to be Yugoslavs indicates that the ethnic endogamy, aided by superimposition of religion on ethnic identity, was relatively strong, which contributed to an increase in intensity of ethnic conflict.

In Canada, ethnic boundaries are relatively closed which contributes to increased intensity of ethnic conflict. Ethnic endogamy seems to be stronger in first generation Canadians and decreases with each subsequent generation, although the ethnic groups vary in restricting marriage outside ethnic or religious circles. It seems that religious endogamy is much stronger than ethnic endogamy because someone can marry outside his or her ethnic group yet remain within the same religion.

 

 REWARDS

In FY, the perception in all parts, except Serbia was that there was superimposition of ethnicity and reward, and that Serbs had a relatively greater share of economic and status rewards. This perception was based on the fact that the centre of the Federation, Belgrade, was also the capital of Serbia, and the wealth accumulated by all republics gravitated toward that centre. The economic reforms of 1967 were supposed to decentralize the system, but, instead of democratizing and liberating economic resources and initiatives, they actually centralized the system even further. This too, increased the intensity of ethnic conflict.

"Even four years after the reform, Belgrade's banks had a stranglehold on the Yugoslav economy, controlling more than half of total credits and some 81.5 percent of foreign credits. As of 1969, according to a Croatian economist, Croatia brought in about 50 percent of all foreign capital but controlled-between Zagreb, Split and Rijeka scarcely more than 15 percent of total credits" (Ramet, 1984:104)

Belgrade's foreign trade companies had a virtual monopoly in earnings from Yugoslavia's foreign trade although most of the export earnings were by Croatia and Slovenia. While Belgrade's income from these sources amounted to 77.1 percent, Zagreb's share was only 2.4 percent. By using political pressure and illegal maneuvering, Belgrade's banks and companies also managed to squeeze out from the market the indigenous Croatian banks in Dalmatia. In some cases, Belgrade's banks controlled 50 percent of the foreign currency earnings of some hotels in Dalmatia, having invested only 10 percent. All this, and many similar injustices, only contributed to the general concern among Croatians that their resources were being drained by Belgrade and the central Government, which was perceived in Croatia as being controlled by the Serbian political elite (Ramet, 1984:104-105). This too, contributed to the increase in intensity of ethnic conflict culminating in 1970 to a "Croatian Spring" when the leading Croatian Communist demanded decentralization of economic power and greater share of the wealth their Republic produced.

Needles to say, they were removed from power accused to be Croatian nationalists who are trying to destroy the unity of Yugoslavia and going against "Brotherhood and Unity".

However, several years after their removal, the decentralization, which they had demanded, took place. This did not please the Serbs because they saw the central power that they controlled diminished. The intensity of ethnic conflict was unchanged and what Serbian nationalists saw as a great injustice to them eventually grew into the Serbian nationalistic movement and led to violence of ethnic conflict.

In Canada the intensity of ethnic conflict between the French in Québec and the English in the rest of the country was exacerbated by the fact that the English controlled a large number of economic enterprises in Québec and that the language at the management level was English. The personnel at the higher management level were predominantly English and Protestant, while the workers were French and Catholic. This created a superimposition of conflicts. French Québecers felt more and more alien and strange in Canada and even in their own province, and in increasing numbers they wanted out of the federation. Once this situation changed, after the arrival of Party Québécois, the intensity of conflict with respect to distribution of economic and status rewards, decreased. At the federal level, the official bilingualism of the central bureaucracy, ensured that large numbers of French from Québec had access to jobs in Ottawa which again contributes to decrease in intensity of ethnic conflict.

 

 RESOURCES

In FY, as indicated earlier, the resources were controlled from the centre, which was dominated by Serbs. This greatly increased the intensity of conflict. In addition, as the resources became scarcer, the competition for them contributed to further increase in intensity of conflict.

In Canada, individual provinces control large number of resources. French in Québec therefore do have control over some of the resources of the province, as do other provinces. This, combined with the relative abundance of resources, contributes to decrease in intensity of ethnic conflict.

The control over resources, however, contributes to an increase in intensity of ethnic conflict between the Aboriginal population and the rest of Canada and sporadically leads to violence.

It is ironic that the abundance of resources contributes to low intensity of ethnic conflict within "multicultural" Canada and yet there is reluctance to let the Aboriginal population control the resources that were originally theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 DOMINATION

In FY, from the perspective of various Republics, there was a Serbian domination, and some referred to their state as "Serboslavia". When Serbs, under the leadership of Mr. Milosevic threatened to increase this domination, the intensity of ethnic conflict increased even further.

In Canada, in the past, domination of Anglo-Saxons or Anglo-Celts contributed to an increase in ethnic conflict, particularly between English and French. As this domination or perception of such domination decreased, so did the intensity of conflict. However, the realization that all successful Prime Ministers came from the Province of Québec irritates some English Canadians and this may increase the intensity of ethnic conflict.

Domination ever the Aboriginal population contributes to increase in intensity of ethnic conflict.

 FEDERALISM

The type of federalism, which existed in FY, because of the strong central government, did not allow for enough economic and cultural independence. This contributed to the increase in intensity of ethnic conflict.

In Canada, there is a constant battle between the central government and the provinces for power. Particularly in Québec, but also in the Western Provinces, there is a desire for more provincial independence. Only in Québec, however, does this struggle contribute to increase in intensity of ethnic conflict.

 

 LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTIC FREEDOM

In FY there was officially equality of national languages so that Slovenian and Macedonian were equal to Croatian and Serbian. In practice, it was the Serbian language, which permeated all aspects of government and army life in FY. Everyone serving in the Yugoslav Army, which was mandatory, had to have some proficiency in Serbian because it was an official Army language. As Serbs also dominated the Central Government bureaucracy, it was their language that predominated. Serbs living and working in other parts of Yugoslavia, in Macedonia for example never learned to speak Macedonian. Because of incongruence between the "official" language and linguistic competence of non-Serbs, the intensity of ethnic conflict between them and Serbs increased.

Croatians experienced an additional threat to their language. While the first and the second Yugoslav constitution were written in the four official languages; Serbian Croatian, Slovenian and Macedonian, repeated attempts have been made at unification of the Serbian and Croatian languages into "Serbo-Croatian". In 1954 in Novi Sad, some twenty-five Serbian, Croatian and Montenegrinian writers and linguists met in an effort to achieve this. The result was the so-called "Novi Sad" agreement.

As was often the case in Yugoslavia, this linguistic Agreement was primarily politically motivated and under duress. The overwhelming evidence that this Agreement was a political rather than a linguistic undertaking is the fact that it left the whole complex problem of lexical and syntactic differences and scientific terminology for some "future" consideration. The orthography had many double listings and was vague as to the choices the user could make (Franolic, 1988:15).

The rejection of the Novi Sad Agreement was particularly strong in Croatia. It was felt that the Serbian language was elevated to the position of State language while Croatian was relegated to the status of local dialect. This of course only contributed to a further increase in intensity of conflict. The Novi Sad Agreement with its principle of "unification", in fact disregarded both Serbian and Croatian linguistic traditions and the importance the very names of these two languages have for their respective nations. In 1967 the first two volumes of this new "unified" dictionary were published and the results infuriated the Croats. "Common Croatian vocabulary and expressions were either excluded or relegated to the status of a local dialect; everywhere the Serbian variant was presented as the standard, the Croatian as the deviation" (Ramet, 1984:108).

While the Croatian and Serbian languages may be interchangeable as a simple communication mechanism just like Danish and Norwegian, as linguistic systems and as symbols of two national identities representing their respective histories and cultures, they are separate and distinct. Croats viewed this attempt to unify two languages as imposing the Serbian language in Croatia, which only further increased the intensity of conflict.

 

Language plays an important role in the intensity of ethnic conflict in Canada. This is particularly so in the province of Québec but is equally applicable to some other provinces.

For the Québecers, language symbolized their cultural presence in North America and they fear that with the loss of their language their culture would also disappear. The federal Government realized Québec's fears and established a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism to study the problem.

 While all these measures were aimed at reducing the intensity of ethnic conflict, the status anxiety which was created among Canadians of British origin, because it altered the existing symbolic order, and threatened to rob them of their status position and their culture's dominance, contributed further to the increase in intensity of ethnic conflict. In addition, various non-British, non-French groups became anxious about their status in this new symbolic and structural order. The very name of the Royal Commission on bilingualism and biculturalism, as well as talks about two founding people, two charter groups, the two-nation society etc. seemed to exclude them as one of the components of society. The Québec federalists, with the help of the federal government, were pressing on with their demands for further and meaningful changes in the symbolic order of society, particularly for language reforms through the Official Languages Act. In this, they encountered stiff opposition from English speaking Canadians who did not want, in their words, "French rammed down our throats" or "bilingual today, French Tomorrow". All these were expressions of cultural-symbolic insecurity of English Canadians, which contributed to increase the intensity of ethnic conflict.

In the process of altering the existing cultural-symbolic order, both Anglophone and Francophone federalists were pressing for the elimination of one of the biggest symbols of the "British domination of Canada". These efforts were directed toward the patriation of the constitution, the British North America Act, a document that was held in the British Parliament in Westminster. While the constitution was still in Great Britain and while it still bore the name of the British North America Act, the separatists in Québec had ample ammunition with which to fight all federalist efforts. As Pierre Trudeau and his Federal Government were wrangling with the provincial premiers about the patriation of the constitution, the Party Québécois was gaining popularity in Québec. When it finally won a huge majority in the election and formed the government, the road was paved for the alteration of the existing system and possible separation. One of the first bills passed was the now infamous language Bill 101, which replaced the previous, and much weaker language Bill 22. The impact of Bill 101 was that it established supremacy of the French language in Québec. The French language became the official language not only in government institutions, but also in all places of business. French was now the only language permitted on all signs in Québec including business signs. One of the most significant changes that the Law 101 was related to, was the language of education. No longer were parents permitted to choose the language in which their children were to be educated. For all but a small minority of Canadians who could prove British origin, French was to be the language of education in Québec. This was aimed particularly at the various non-English, non-French immigrants in Québec, who prior to that time educated their children in English schools and in this way contributed to the increase in English speakers in Québec, while the French natality rates were dropping. With respect to intensity of ethnic conflict, Bill 101 had a double effect. On the one hand it assured French Québecers the preservation of their language and culture in Québec, which decreased the intensity of conflict between French and English in Canada in general. On the other hand, it increased the intensity of ethnic conflict within Québec between French and non-French and non-English minorities by forcing them to speak French.

The consequences of this new language law reached almost all institutions of Québec society and affected also English Canada. Rather than have their executives and upper management learn and operate in French, the head offices of a number of corporations moved from Montreal to Toronto and other cities in English Canada. Such moves were also the result of the fears of the impending separation of Québec from Canada. Almost overnight, anglophone in Québec experienced a status drop, and as one of my English Canadian colleagues from Montreal remarked: "Now we are just like any other ethnic group".

The drop in status for the English in Québec meant the rise of the status for the French. The consequences of Bill 101 went beyond the expectations of the "Pequiste" (P.Q.) and completely changed the structure of ethnic relations within Québec and the rest of Canada.

Before Bill 101 there was a coincidence of language and ethnicity in Québec so that those of French origin spoke French and all others spoke English. With Bill 101 there is dissociation of language and ethnicity because almost all people in Québec are required to speak French. There was also a large alteration of the self-image of Francophone Québecers. While before, their self-conception was that of minority French Canadians, they now conceptualize themselves as Québécois, a term which with time may become more culturally inclusive if Québec ethnic nationalism transforms itself into political and territorial nationalism.

Perhaps the most important consequence of Bill 101 was the increase in perception among Québecers that the survival of their culture and language on the North American continent was no longer in jeopardy. While this was a great achievement of the P.Q., it also contributed to its lack of success with respect to its efforts to separate from Canada. When the time of the referendum came, and Québecers were asked to choose between Canada and separation, a majority chose to stay in Canada. This was a great victory for the federalist forces in and outside Québec; however, a credit for it should be given to the Bill 101 and the P.Q. With their very existence and intervention, the P.Q. altered those elements of structure and symbolic order, which before contributed to the increase in violence, and intensity of ethnic conflict in Canada. 

English Canadians are always irritated by the insistence of Québecers on enforcing their language laws and requiring everyone in their province speak French. However, English Canadians were those who insisted that Aboriginals speak English and who forced Aboriginal children to forget their mother tongues.

 

 EXTERNAL INFLUENCE

External influence always had a significant impact on the situation in the Balkans. Yugoslavia came into being after the World War I as a result of the wishes of great European powers of that time, primarily Great Britain, and France. Nations like the Croats and Slovenes, which before the war were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were joined into union with Serbia into the "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes". Croatian and Slovenian politicians wanted this to be a union of equal partners. Serbian politicians, on the other hand, saw this as an enlarged or "Greater Serbia" which was their reward for being on the winning side in the war. The other south Slavic nations were to play but a minor role in this new state. The Great Powers of the time imposed their will on the small nations and created an ethnically segmented state. From the perception of Croats in particular, the Treaty creating this new state favored the Serbs. This foreign intervention was then perceived to be favoring one of the nations namely Serbs and this greatly increased the intensity of ethnic conflict.

This imposition of external powers had even more impact later on the history of ethnic conflict in Yugoslavia.

The external powers' support for the Serb dominated Yugoslavia virtually threw the outlawed Croatian nationalists "Ustashi" into the German camp during the 1930s, as they could not receive favourable support from any of the nations that imposed the Treaty of Versailles. This eventually lead to the violence of ethnic conflict during the World War II. The German supported Ustashi were pitted against the British supported Serbian nationalists "Chetnics". Only later in the war, when it became clear that Chetniks were cooperating with Germans, did Britain switch its support away from Serbian nationalists to Communist federalists lead by Tito.

The external intervention of Germany during World War II contributed to increase in violence of ethnic conflict. Germany gave full support to the Independent State of Croatia and its Fascist regime despite many Croatians joining the resistance movement. The Croatian extreme nationalist Ustashi embarked on the cleansing of Croatia of all Serbs. Many of them, together with Jews, Gypsies and Croatian Communists perished in Jasenovac, a notorious concentration camp.

External influence for the great part shaped, and continues to shape ethnic conflict in FY. In the most recent history of FY the Western powers again wanted to preserve the integrity of Yugoslavia regardless of the fact that Serbia was on the march to a total control of this troubled state. When the democratization process, which was sweeping through former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, reached Yugoslavia, it became clear to everyone, including some Western politicians (Baker, J.A., 1995:638) that this country would not be able to survive in one piece. Yugoslavia, as it existed during the Communist rule, and democracy, are mutually exclusive. A multinational country, which was created through dictates of foreign powers and maintained by internal dictates, cannot be further maintained by democracy. As soon as people were given a real choice in free elections, the political parties that gained power became ethnic bound. There were no political parties that reached across ethnic boundaries. Before the outbreak of democracy there was only one political party, the Communist Party and it was in control of all ethnic segments. Now, each of the ethnic segments had its own political parties. This superimposition contributed to a further increase in ethnic conflict and eventually lead to violence.

 

When Serbia did not agree to any kind of renewed confederation, demanded by other republics, Slovenia and Croatia opted for independence. The First Article of the Yugoslav Constitution guarantied every Republic a right to independence. For all non-Serb nations of Yugoslavia, maintaining this country, as Serbia wanted it, would have meant total Serbian domination. The Western powers totally ignored this and placed themselves clearly on the side of Serbia by demanding integrity of Yugoslavia at any cost.

On March 28, 1991, U.S. President Bush told Yugoslav Prime Minister Markovic that the U.S. would not encourage or reward those who would break up the country.

On May 29, 1991, Warren Zimmerman, U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia, said that the U.S. is "strongly opposed to Slovenia independence".

On June 21, 1991, Secretary of State Baker visited Belgrade and warned Slovenian President Kucan and Croatian President Tudjman that the U.S. does not plan to recognize the states' independence.

On June 23, 1991 European Community (EC) officials warned Slovenes and Croats that recognition would not be forthcoming.

On June 25, 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared themselves independent. The U.S. said that it would ignore this unilateral step in spite of the fact that an overwhelming majority of Slovenes and Croats opted for independence.

On June 30, 1991, EC reemphasize Europe's commitment to "Yugoslavia".

On July 8, 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev expresses his support for "Yugoslavia's unity and integrity".

From the Slovenia and Croatia's positions, the U.S. and European Powers were clearly intervening on the part of Serbia. The Russians, the British and the French were actually strong supporters of Serbia. (Baker, J.A., 1995: 637). This, of course, increased even further the intensity of ethnic conflict.

From the Serbian perspective, the position of the U.S. and European Powers clearly gave them the right to "maintain the integrity of Yugoslavia" even by force. Their long dream of "Greater Serbia" was now within their reach. It seems that the European powers supported this Serbian ambition.

By their persistent refusal to give legitimacy to the democratic will of Slovenes and Croats, the U.S. and European Powers contributed even further to the violence of ethnic conflict. It was tragic that this external influence, on the one hand supported democratization process in Yugoslavia, but on the other hand did not accept the will of its people.

The position of the U.S. and Europeans was puzzling to say the least. Mr. Baker knew, as early as 21 June 1991, that Mr. Milosevic is "at heart a tough and a liar". He also knew that Milosevic's nationalistic policies were the main cause of Yugoslavia's crisis and were propelling peoples of Yugoslavia toward civil war and disintegration. (Baker, J.A. 1995:481). He must have known that Mr. Milosevic rejected any kind of renegotiated Yugoslav confederation, yet Mr. Baker insisted that Mr. Kucan of Slovenia and Mr. Tudjman of Croatia negotiate with a person "whose whole life has been built on using the past to inflame the present" (ibid.). It is also ironic that even after the recognition of Croatia and Slovenia by the Europeans, the U.S. was still reluctant to do the same and argued against it, as if they negotiated their independence with Great Britain and as if Croatia was not the first nation to recognize U.S. independence. This also demonstrates a total lack in understanding of the dynamics of ethnic conflicts on the part of Bush administration and Mr. Baker in particular.

When the external powers finally realized the tragic outcome of their previous decisions and when brutality of the Serbian attacks in Croatia resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, hundreds of thousands of refugees and destroyed homes and property, the Governments, which previously supported integrity of Yugoslavia at any cost, dumped all this mess into the United Nations lap.

Again the external force did not help restore peace. The UN Peacekeepers stood by and watched as the Serbs with their artillery and tanks destroyed Croatian villages and towns. From the Croatian perspective, they were not neutral. The UN troops and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) only assisted in the Serbian actions of "Ethnic cleansing" of Croats from their ancestral villages and towns. The UN also imposed an embargo on arms for the entire FY, but this initially did not have any influence on the supplies the Serbs were getting from the huge stockpile of arms from Yugoslavia. The UN or the West could not or did not want to stop that. From the Croatian perspective this too made such external influences partial. On the other hand, the West, lead by the U.S. insisted on the integrity of Croatia and other republics within their pre-conflict borders. From the Serbian perspective this stand placed the international community on the side of Croatia.

 

External influences played an important part in the ethnic conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Here the U.S. and Europeans seem to have learned something from their mistakes in Croatia, and immediately recognized Bosnian independence. This should have given legitimacy to the Bosnian State. But here, the external influences that shaped the tragic developments in Bosnia were primarily that of Serbia, and also of Croatia. Both of these countries clearly wanted the partition of Bosnia. From the outset, Mr. Milosevic wanted to incorporate all Bosnia-Herzegovina and part of Croatia into "Greater Serbia". Mr. Tudjman of Croatia wanted that part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, inhabited by Croats. There were actually rumors that Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Tudjman agreed on partition of Bosnia at the secret meeting. If this indeed were true, it would be interesting to know what their intention was with respect to the Muslim majority in Bosnia.

At the beginning of the Bosnian conflict, the aggressors were the Serbs with their overwhelming weapon power supplied by the Yugoslav army. They knew that the UN had no mandate to stop the conflict, so they proceeded with total destruction of Bosnian cities and towns, which were not yet in their hands. The brutality of "ethnic cleansing", concentration camps and rape camps was so severe that the international community organized War Crimes Tribunal to deal with the conflict in FY.

While the whole world was shocked by the brutality that prevailed in the Bosnian conflict, someone more familiar with the Balkan cultures was not surprised. A familiar Serbian proverb asserts that "only the avenger can be consecrated" (ko se ne osveti, taj se ne posveti) (A. Simic, 1981). And Serbs could always be motivated by the past, be it to avenge their defeat by Turkish invasion in the Middle Ages, the "ethnic cleansing" they experienced in the World War II in Croatia and Bosnia, or "injustice" of the Tito's regime. As an American anthropologist asserted:

"Value systems such as the Serbian one with its stress on familial and ethnic exclusivity and rooted in a particular axiomatic concept of human relations, and as indicated earlier, this world view is largely incompatible with the ideal that the same moral standards should be applied evenhandedly to every one within the limits of his or her particular knowledge, skills and experience without reference to such ascribed characteristics as family, class ethnicity, or particular position in a social network" (A.Simic, 1981: 25-26).  

This statement can perhaps be applied to the entire Dinaric cultural region regardless of ethnicity or indeed to any ethnic entity trying to assert itself over the others. When the tribal mentality, which is one of the strong characteristics of this region, was awakened, the ethnic conflict assumed a violent character and the stronger were conquering the weaker. After all, one should not forget the words of Milovan Djilas, describing the slaughter of Muslims following the World War I:

"Sekula who cut ligaments of the Moslemís heels, hated the Turks more out of inborn urge than out of criminal tendencies. He was not alone in this, and neither he nor the others felt the slightest twinge of conscience. Nevertheless, he stood apart from his cold hatred, of which he was proud. He exulted in it. It was simply that he regarded Moslems, whom he called Turks, as naturally responsible for every evil, and he held it equally to be his inescapable duty to wreak vengeance on this alien creed and to extirpate it. He considered a traitor anyone who missed an opportunity to do likewise. He required no reason at all, no provocation, to carry out the murder of a Moslem or to burn down his homestead" (Djilas, in Simic, 1981: 23).

Although an artist's fiction set at the beginning of the century, Djilas's words seem to have described the events that took place in Bosnia in 1990s.

Muslims and Croats were on the defensive and were allies but had their separate military units and were segmented territorially and politically. Croats living in Western Herzegovina in particular considered themselves already part of Croatia.

 

Serbs, who controlled the largest part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, created their own republic, "Republika Srpska" and demanded independence from the rest of Bosnia-Herzegovina and unification with Serbia. Croats in Herzegovina created their own republic "Herceg-Bosna" and wanted unification with Croatia. Muslims wanted to maintain the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina where they were in majority. They were in conflict with Serbs, but now they also came into conflict with Croats. This conflict with Croats was partly for the exclusive control of territory but also seem to have been artificially induced to create the situation of intolerance and change the situation of ethnic heterogeneity into ethnic segmentation.

It took the external influence to decrease the violence of ethnic conflict. Under U.S., pressure the three sides were forced to sign an agreement, which was to preserve the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nobody achieved its goals. Muslims with majority were worse of territorially, Croats had to relinquish their Herceg-Bosna and abandon their desire to unite with Croatia, and Serbs had to agree to reverse the effects of "ethnic cleansing" and abandon their wish to unite with Serbia. The agreement was enforced by NATO power and also included the Russians and some other East Europeans. Impartial external influence and force eliminated the violence of ethnic conflict but did not decrease the intensity of such conflict.

Serbia and Serbs in Bosnia have not abandoned their desire to unite. Croats in Herzegovina consider themselves part of Croatia. They use Croatian currency and vote in Croatian elections. Croatia and Croatians in Herzegovina have not abandoned their desire to unite. Muslims are now armed and are able to defend themselves against the Serbs and Croats but without the external powers would not be able to maintain the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

There are now conflicting external influences at play in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the one hand, the U.S. and NATO contribute to the elimination of violence of ethnic conflict. The nationalist and expansionist tendencies from Serbia and Croatia maintain the high intensity of ethnic conflict. As long as these tendencies remain in place, and as long as the indicted war criminals are free and influential, the high intensity of conflict will remain and will become violent if the U.S. and NATO troops leave.

 

External influence in Canadian ethnic conflict is not as great as in the case of FY. When the Canadian politicians in the early 1980s wanted to patriate the Constitution from Great Britain, there was no objection. Great Britain also did not place any pressure on Canada when it abandoned many symbols of Canada's colonial past. All this assured that the conflict between the English and French in Canada did not increase in intensity. Even if Canada decides to rid itself completely from its Colonial past by becoming a Republic, Great Britain will surely not object. This too may further decrease the intensity of conflict between the French and the English speaking Canadians.

The U.S. is also very careful to be impartial when asked about the possibility of Québec's separation. They would prefer a united Canada but would abide by the wishes of Canadians. The only external influence that to some extent contributed to increase in ethnic tensions was that of France. Although allied in the World War II and in NATO, some French politicians cannot resist showing their desire for Québec's independence. Nobody was more bold and undiplomatic in this respect than former French President Charles de Gaulle. On his state visit to Canada in June 1967, while saluting the crowd in Montreal he exclaimed his famous "vive la Québec libre" (long live free Québec). This of course created widespread controversy in Canada and encouraged Québec's nationalists, and it definitely increased the intensity of ethnic conflict.

 

 LEADERSHIP

In the history of FY there were a number of individuals whose leadership contributed to the intensity and violence of ethnic conflict. In the most recent past the charismatic leadership of Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic to a great extent influenced and are still influencing the intensity and violence of ethnic conflict in that part of the world. Research on the leadership roles in the study of ethnic conflict in FY is continuing and will be reported at some other time.

In Canada too, several charismatic persons were instrumental in articulating their group's interests and transforming a quasi-group into an interest group. The most prominent which come to mind were Louis Riel and René Lévesque. Research on the leadership roles and its effect on the ethnic conflict in Canada is in progress and will be reported upon completion. 

 Ethnicity

Structure

Symbolism

References

Model

Canada and FY

Societies

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