ЕВРОПЕЙСКАЯ КОНТАКТНАЯ ЗОНА: 2000
EUROPEAN CONTACT ZONE: 2000
Санкт-Петербург - 2000
THE POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY OF EUROPEAN MINORITIES:
PAST AND FUTURE
The collapse of communist regimes in East-Central Europe, the disintegration of Soviet Union and of Czechoslovakia and the war in former Yugoslavia showed that even the most dramatic geopolitical shifts can happen. Even before 1991, Europe was the continent with the youngest political boundaries and, therefore, an elevated geopolitical "seismicity" (Foucher, 1991). Numerous changes of political boundaries and the creation of new states only partly solved or softened ethnic problems. It is well known that partitions and the redrawing of political borders often only create new problems, aggravate and perpetuate ethnic conflicts (Waterman, 1984). The purpose of this paper is two-fold: first, using the historical retrospecvtive of the 20th century and hypothetical scenarios of the future, we would like to prove that the unlimited right of peoples to self-determination and the concept of the nation-state are not a mean to reduce ethnic tensions. Second, we would like to try to define the most dangerous ethno-political boundaries in Europe along which new geopolitical shifts can occur, in estimating quantitatively the geopolitical, the economic, and the cultural potential of the conflicts in all European areas of ethnic minorities, as well as the level of their political mobilization. As far as we know, it is the first attempt of this kind and, despite any shortcomings of our method, it can be useful for further studies.
The definition of "minority" depends greatly on the definition of nation, state and, indeed, of majority. This paper will apply the definition of nation in Krejci and Velimsky, with updated adjustments. When counting the European minorities in 1910, 1930 and 1950, Krejci and Velimsky (1981, 66) defined minorities as "ethnic groups without any kind of autonomous status or partnership in such a status, and with their majority living on a more or less clearly identified territory".
The second portion of the definition excludes Jews, Gypsies and guest workers/immigrants, and is the same restriction we use for our ethnic areas. The restriction should be continued and some limits must be introduced for minimal ethnic population - 50,000 for large states and 25,000 for small states; otherwise, considerably long "tails" of micro-minorities might be identified.
To study the dynamics of European minorities by using the definition, one most start with historical changes on the European political map. This analysis is confined to the twentieth century (in terms of time), Europe as far eastward as the Urals and the Armenian plateau (in terms of space), and the states populated by 50,000 or more residents (population).
We begin by recalculating the population figures according to these parameters and using different sources than those presented by Krejci and Velimsky (Krejci and Velimsky, 1981; see also Kolossov, Glezer and Petrov, 1992; Tarkhov and Jordan, 1993; World Population, 1989, World Directory, 1990; and Sellier and Sellier, 1991). Maps 1-5 and table 1 reflect the data corrected and extended both in time (the two recent dates added, divided by the same interval of about 20 years) and in space (several more states related to our enlarged Europe, from the island of Madeira to the island of Vaigach and from Iceland to Cyprus).
In the accounting, one can observe the process of self-determination as the century's leitmotif. The number of completely independent states has doubled, and even tripled in Central and Eastern Europe since 1910. Three states that emerged in Western Europe were thinly populated islands of Iceland, Ireland and Malta, states with almost no minorities. In Eastern Europe, the path towards the nation-state model was much more dramatic and successful, if the number of newly-created states serves as a criteria of success.
Major changes of the continental political map during the twentieth century resulted from the World War I, with the Balkan wars as a prelude, the World War II, and the collapse of the communist bloc and of some incorporated states after the Cold War. These three macro-events divide the century into four historical periods: multinationalism, nationalism, socialism (Rugg, 1985, 11-13), and the modern era. This latter period is yet not clearly determined, balancing between the newest nationalism and trans-nationalism. Each period's geopolitical and ethnic impacts are different. The era of great empires was marked by forced intrastate ethnic integration, often painful for the then numerous minorities. World War I allowed some of them to establish their own states (for example, Poland, Hungary, etc.), but brought even more problems to the others (for instance, to Romania and Yugoslavia). Stalinist socialism pretended to solve those issues by creating a complicated system of "autonomies" of different kind inside the "Eastern bloc" using the Soviet example (in Romania, Czeckoslovakia but especially in Yougoslavia). But, as modern history shows, these attempts also failed, followed by a new wave of conflicts, at the background of generally more integrated and interrelated Europe.
Eastern Europe entered the century divided between four empires. Only the Ottoman empire exhibited symptoms of erosion, as evidenced by the five Balkan states. Russia and Austria-Hungary were the European leaders in both number of minorities and their total population. In 1910, the Russian empire alone accounted for over 40% of the total continental population. However, Austria-Hungary exceeded the Russian empire twofold in terms of minority's average size; the minorities of Austria-Hungary formed over three-quarters of its total population (or 60%, if Hungarians were considered as a "co-majority"). European Turkey still had the same percentage of minorities (Table 1).
Nine new states appeared on the European scene in the 1920s after the first geopolitical shift, notably reducing percentages of minorities and both the total and the average minorities' number. The figures for average minorities' size became almost equal in Western and in Central and Eastern Europe. However, the number of minorities and subnations increased, particularly in the East. This is a result of the new boundaries often splitting a minority, which then has to be counted separately for each different state. Ukrainians are a classic example of an irredentism split in the 1920s between the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania.
In 1930, the European USSR, though lacking many western areas of its Russian empire ancestor, retained the largest number of minorities in absolute figures, but followed the new "collective" Yugoslavian kingdom (the European number two) as well as to the old Belgian and to the Swiss Confederation in percentage terms. Furthermore, with its minorities' share near one-third, the USSR was on a pair with 1930s Poland and Czechoslovakia.
The Second World War resulted in the second geopolitical shift, but it did not affect greatly the figures for minorities, as it only slightly elevated the number of states. Among new states, there was the "second Germany", but at the same time, three Baltic states have been incorporated into the USSR. However, the tremendous war and post-war losses, and the forced transfers of millions of Jewish, French, German, Greek, and Slavonic peoples, are counted. Why did these exchanges not notably affect the European minorities' totals and averages? The intrastate shifts often had a counter-compensative nature. For instance, the majority of Central European countries, especially Poland, became more mono-ethnic.
The Soviet Union, by contrsat, became more diverse. For example, from 1939-45, nearly 135,000 sq.km, a region called Ruthenian or Galician Ukraine (the latter name coming from ancient principality of Galich) was added to the USSR. These areas were inhabited by approximately nine million "double minorities", ethnic or confessional subgroups of Ukrainians (Gutsuls, Lemkys and Boykis known under the common name of Ruthenes), Poles, Transcarpathian Magyars, and Bukovinian Rumanians. Together with eastern Ukrainians, Moldavians, Belorussians, Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, these subgroups significantly raised the figures for Soviet minorities.
Overall, a long-term and very special era of divided Europe was opened in 1950. The triple geopolitical formula, suggested by Jordan (1973) for Poland, seems to come true for Central Europe as a whole:
Strong Germany + weak Russia = German-dominated Poland;
Weak Germany + strong Russia = Russian-dominated Poland;
Strong Germany + strong Russia = no Poland.
Jordan, however, forgot a historically feasible combination: weak Germany + weak Russia (both disintegrated) = strong Polish or Polish-Lithuanian state. Nevertheless, we can expand the formula for Europe in its entirety as follows:
Strong West + weak East = West-dominated Central Europe;
(Weak West + strong East = East-dominated Central Europe);
Strong West + strong East = no Central Europe.
The second version (in brackets) seems to be a hypothesis which reflects some exaggerated western fears of communist expansion in the 1950-60s. However, the final formula was accurate for the full Cold-War period, when there was almost no rooms for neutrals or buffers, except, to some extent, Finland, Austria and Yugoslavia. The ethnic-national situation inside the two systems was, paradoxically, the most stable one. The world-wide confrontation displaced old ethnic tensions and secessionist intentions from the surface of European political geography.
The confrontation between two blocs may explain the initial success of autonomization, the Soviet-shaped response to the nationalist challenge, which designated certain groups as autonomous in their traditional geographical heartlands. Few sounds of cracking along the "sub-state" boundaries were heard. At the same time, the Eastern status-quo - once achieved - was then so well locked and guarded that it left no chance for purely "ethnic" Eastern European nations to become somewhat "political" (if the terms of Krejci and Velimsky are used). They could not establish any new official ethnic homelands. Moreover, some of the formerly arranged homelands were lost, as, for example, the Hungarian (Muresh) autonomous region which existed between 1952 and 1968 in Transylvania, part of Romania. The partition of Cyprus in the mid-1970s is an exception, but it remains distinct both politically and geographically. Even more telling is that this de-facto partition was (and still is, after so many recent precedents!) not recognized by the international community.
The Western situation of the time was not very different. Almost no single nation-state was brave enough to devolve its power. Only in the years since the 1970s, events like the creation of a canton for Jura in Switzerland (1970-75), the 1978 regional autonomy-minded Spanish Constitution, the 1979 Scottish and Welsh referenda (which maintained the UK integrity), and later Belgian federalist development (much less successful for the Belgian Kingdom), have marked a notable shift. A devolution of state power now seems to be possible under a much wider tendency toward regional and local self-government under such a reliable "supralock" as the increasingly powerful EU framework.
Forty years of such stability present many examples of the evolution of minorities mostly by their natural growth. The number of minorities did not change greatly between 1930 and 1970. Several new ethnic groups - exceeding our symbolic limits of absolute strength and thus added to the list of minorities - were balanced by a few cases of self-determination. Malta and Cyprus are two states that attained independence after 1950, making the total number the same as in 1910. Assimilation, official ignorance, and emigration were often important driving forces of ethnic structural shifts. For instance, Greek authorities and statistics do not recognize any ethnic minority, which makes our evaluation problematic. Hence, the diminishing proportion of Macedonians, Turks, Albanians and Aromuns in Greece could be an artifact of official policy, but it could also be the result of real assimilation or mimicry. The same process in Ireland and Finland was determined by lower national growth rates of English and Swedish minorities and partly by emigration, rather than assimilation. The latter was evidently the leading factor reducing the number of Hungarians and Germans in Romania, combined with the certain impact of their lower birth rates. By contrast, the three numerous Spanish minorities (Catalonians, Basques and Galicians) were naturally increasing to form over 25% of the total population in 1970.
The third geopolitical shift in 1989-95 is extremely important for Central and Eastern Europe: the reduction by one state due to the German re-unification, but a twofold increase in the number of states caused by Soviet, Czechoslovakian and Yugoslavian disintegrations. This causes a sharp reduction of both the absolute and relative strength of the minorities for the whole of the continent and for the East in particular. It is true that the East has a lower percentage and average population of compact minorities than the West. The latter's minorities have increased in average and in total, in comparison with 1910.
The "minority-free zone", that zone of states below 5% of national totals, now covers 15 states, instead of 6 in 1910, and form a compact core stretching from the Netherlands to Hungary and from Norway to Slovenia. The opposite pole is represented by Belgium, Switzerland and Bosnia; Bosnia is as far from a nation-state as was the whole of the Yugoslavian Federation before 1991. Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Moldova inherited the former all-Soviet category of minorities' share. European Russia, though a unique federation here, finds itself in a lower category. It still has the greatest number of minorities, but Russia's total minority population is now more comparable to that of Ukraine or Spain (over 10 million in each case).
A superficial view prompts a conclusion: the more numerous and the smaller the nation-states, the fewer "foreign bodies" and accompanying problems. This is, however, wrong, and not necessarily beyond formal statistics. One has to mention the number of minorities growing step by step in conformity with the progressing self-determination. The total, 150, is now almost 1.4 times as high as it was in 1910 and about 1.5 times higher in Central and Eastern Europe taken alone.
Thus, the process of self-determination had a very contradictory effect. It converted a minority (and often its major portion) into a majority inside its nation state. On the other hand, it cut the minority population dwelling outside the state into multiple segments. In other words, what happened to minorities is to be determined as a "multiplication by splitting", a biological term for reproduction of simple organisms. As an example, let us consider what happened to Ukrainian irredentism? Formerly, there was only one (Soviet) populous Ukranian minority in the USSR. After the collapse, nearly 37.5 million Ukrainians constituted the majority in Ukraine. At the same time, 6.7 million Ukrainians formed 14 separate minorities in other newly independent post-Soviet states (6 of them account for over 100,000 each). In addition, two million reside as they did before in neighboring European countries, Canada and USA. Naturally, a complete repatriation back to the "motherland" is unfeasible, although the ambition is typical of a young nation-state. Initially, independent Ukraine gained a notably positive migration exchange, particularly with Russia (+110, 000 in 1992), but the declining economic situation in Ukraine soon resulted in an opposite balance (-17 thousand in 1993).
In spite of the expansion of states that pretend to be "mono-ethnic"; there was no adequate growth of their share in total European population. The share of the first proportional category (up to 5%) was about 1/5 in 1910 when it included France and Italy and has become 1/4 of the total population by 1993. Together with the next group (up to 10%), the share has increased from almost 2/5 to 1/2. The dynamics are most likely a result of certain stability of such areas where the environment is favorable for assimilation and dissolution. A greater growth of other minorities whose masses, shares and mobilized position make for self-preservation is the opposite factor, that slows down the process and determines modest results.
Finally, it should be noted that all of the above developments happened to minorities which also include millions of Asian, African and other diasporas in Europe. When added together, they surely make the Western minorities more numerous. In general terms, an average minority also became more heterogeneous, "less native" (or less rooted) and less spatially determined (less compact and local). Hence it may claim nothing above some cultural autonomy.
Three conclusions follow from this discussion:
(1) The nation-state model still is attractive for major local minorities in Europe; however, it gradually becomes a less effective tool to solve ethnic problems - neither for the multiplying states nor for the multiplying minorities themselves. Each new split engenders new minorities, new historical resentments and new conflicts.
(2) The last act of the European geopolitical drama has yielded the greatest "advance" for the former minorities in Central and Eastern portions of the continent. The act is not yet over; nobody can argue that its actual "photo image" is the final one, at least in several Balkan cases (Bosnia and Moldova) and in Transcaucasia.
(3) If some form of a new stability is achieved eventually, one cannot exclude an east to West transfer of ethnic mobilization of some ethnic minorities who would become much more numerous and claim more rights.
POLITICAL TENSIONS AND GEOPOLITICAL RISKS I
N EUROPEAN ETHNIC AREAS
We now present an evaluation of various tensions and the risks of separatism in ethnic areas of Europe. These includes specially defined areas of compact settlement of national minorities, where their number is more than 50,000 people and where they can aspire to a certain territorial autonomy. Such an area forms another ethnic (spatial) unit, and thus, differs from a purely ethnic minority. We developed quantitative methods suggested earlier (Anderson, 1990; Rugg, 1985; Quantitative..., 1989) and estimated socio-political tensions in ethnic regions in Europe, using 16 variables which can be divided in 6 groups: 1) the number (the absolute and the relative number of a minority in the country as a whole and in its area);
2) the geopolitical situation (isolated or in the neighborhood with ethnically close areas or nation-states, in dispersed or concentrated settlement);
3) the cultural situation (the percentage of a minority speaking the native tongue, its status, the relationship between its confession and the religion of the titular people;
4) the economic situation (the GDP with respect to a national average, the location on the scale "centre-periphery");
5) the political status (the experienced independent statehood, the age of a minority's belonging to a present state, the age of the boundaries of its administrative unit and 6) political mobilization (the existence of a national-territorial autonomy, of national parties and movements and their influence, other expressions of nationalism - demonstrations, violence, civil war).
All available sources of information on the boundaries of ethnic areas and the number of their titular and non-titular population are controversial and incomplete. We tried to use as much sources as possible: atlases (Foucher, 1993; Sellier and Sellier, 1991), directories (World Population, 1989; World Directory, 1990), monographs (Krejci and Velimsky, 1981; Kolossov, Glezer and Petrov; 1992, Tarkhov and Jordan, 1993), as well as our own files. We compare various sources and tried to choose the most plausible or took the average figure. Estimations, intrapolation, and extrapolation are sometimes inevitably needed. In order to reduce the element of subjectivism when exact figures were not available, all the values and estimations were converted into points. The total number of points for each group of variables and their general sum allowed comparison among separate ethnic areas and "geopolitical" and cultural macroregions of Europe - Western Europe, Central and eastern Europe (Transcaucasian republics included), Catholic-Protestant Europe, and Orthodox Europe (figure 1-5).
Despite very high index values in many "hot spots" of the former Soviet Union, any version of our calculations showed that the most dangerous is the situation in Southeastern Europe as a whole, and not in the countries from the USSR. This can be seen by the war in former Yugoslavia and by the frequent changes in local geopolitical structures and boundaries, as well as by sharp economic contrasts between neighboring regions. The tensions are especially strong along the "civilisational" boundary between Orthodox and Muslim areas. This risk is pregnant with consequences for both Western and Eastern Europe. What geopolitical scenario will be realized? Will the result be further disintegration, secessions, and military confrontation as a result of the attempts to build a nation-state with "fair" boundaries by each ethnic group? Will the creation of new state units, such as Great Serbia and Great Albania, follow? Will integration with Western Europe occur? Or will a framework of regional Central European organization be assumed?
As for the post-Soviet geopolitical space, the results demonstrated the essential role of two groups of variables: the economic situation and the cultural-historical identity of a people living in an area. The cultural-historical identity includes the spread and the status of the titular language, the contrast in religions held by the majority and the recognized minority, and the experience of statehood. These two groups of variables are "responsible" for 41% of the total political tension index variation (Table 2).
Cultural factors are most important in ethnic areas of the Baltic countries, as well as in Turkmenistan, Kirgizia, and Kazakhstan. In contrast, while the major conflict in Transdniestria does not have a purely ethnic character, the weight of the national identity factor for Moldova is minimal.
An unfavorable economic situation was the major factor for Russian and Belorussian ethnic areas, most of which are located in peripheral, backward parts of their countries. The most evident is the case of the North-Caucasian republics, which have long been ranked last in the Russian Federation according to most social indicators such as infant mortality, the relative number of kindergartens and hospitals, and the relationship between the rise in prices and average incomes. The situation in the remote Siberian autonomous districts, the areas of Amur and small indigenous Northern peoples is not much better.
One of the areas with the highest conflict potential is northeast Estonia, the region, where tensions are high (22 points). This area of a Russian-speaking population is the only ethnic area there, but due to the ethnic minority size and share in the population of the country, Estonia has the highest rank among former Soviet republics by these indicators. The geopolitical situation on the Russian-Estonian borderland and the poor state of its economy (by national measures) increase the risk of a conflict. In Latvia and Lithuania, the geopolitical situation of their ethnic areas, the spatial concentration of the minorities, and the sharp cultural contrast between ethnic and titular populations also raises the general index of the potential political tension. However, political mobilization of both Russian-speaking and other minorities in the Baltic countries remains relatively limited (Chinn and Kaiser, 1996).
Generally speaking, the conflict potential still is more significant in the well-known "old hot spots" like Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia, and Moldova. In Ukraine, the number and the share of ethnocultural areas are especially considerable, and their situation is one of important factors causing geopolitical risks. Thus, ethnic relations between Russians and Ukrainians remain peaceful (Chinn and Kaiser, 1996; Kolstohe, 1995; Tishkov, 1993).
For the Russian Federation, the most acute ethnopolitical conflicts has touched its territory in Chechnia, and neighboring Ossetian and Ingush republics. These areas have the maximum general estimations of tension, at the level of 18-20 points. The war in Chechnia represented the sharpest conflict; however, its geopolitical and especially economic background was relatively moderate. This level is high also in the other areas of North Caucasus (12-16), which represents a compact and uninterrupted zone of the high risk of ethnic conflicts. In the areas of Karachaevi, Cherkessian, Balkar, and Dagestani peoples, the important values of the general index are combined with a high political mobilization.
Nevertheless, the average level of political tension in Russian ethnic areas (making up about 1/2 of their total number in the former Soviet Union) is considerably lower than in the post-Soviet space as a whole (10.6 versus 13.2). However, this is not a consolation prize, if we take into account the many latent conflicts and the situation of the Russian-speaking population outside Russian borders.
SCENARIOS FOR THE FUTURE
When history, geography, ethnicity and politics dominate the redrawing of an existing map, the actors and spectators are allowed to speculate about the outcome. Of course, our speculations differ due to our personal and professional skills, and to the degrees of freedom and responsibility accepted. There are also a variety of styles of the so-called scientific provision, more "real" or "optimal" (which goes much better with politics or planning) and more logically emphasized (though perhaps more fantastic or even absurd), in order to stress different versions of future, to reveal their impact, and to compare them. What a reader finds below is the latter type of a "geographic speculation".
The key question asked is about the relationship between geopolitical and ethnic integrity, or, differently phrased, about the two concepts of disintegration and of re-integration. The two corresponding versions of the future are principle-based rather than time-based. Nonetheless, they may be symbolically taken as the two successive steps, with an essential restriction: there will be no dates, and therefore no general demographic dynamics (as a background), nor secondary effects of the first scenario for the second one (such as mass migration flows and related change in birth and death rates, etc.).
The early 1990s picture of ethnic/ subnation areas, as analyzed and described above, is taken as the fixed starting point called Scenario 0. The stable parameters are combined and then recombined according to the proposed changes on the political map for the first and second scenarios. Scenario 1: General Ethnic Disintegration (Mass Secession of Ethnic Areas)
Values of both summary scores of ethnic tensions and political mobilization of a minority in its compact area when exceed the European average, according to our Scenario 0 estimations, expect some development for the secessionist hypothesis. As for the mean value used (about 13 points for general totals), it can be illustrated by the Scottish area in the UK. It is one point more then the average and exhibits the lowest level of tension in the list of cases associated with the scenario.
The list includes 48 of such "experimentally created new states", or about 30% of the total number of ethnic areas. Below, one can find a short description of their major representatives (populated by 1 million or more). The so-called countries, of course, with their very artificial names are presented (Table 3).
The two dozen cases examined in the table illustrate simply different degrees of probability and the "effectiveness" of disintegration. The less populated areas are more numerous but similar in variety. Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia, though ten times less populous, can compete however with Yugoslavian Kosovo as a leader in ethnic tension and mobilization. Figure 6 shows the ethno-political map which corresponds to the scenario. Western Europe does not appear changed, but the Balkans and Caucasus exhibit an extraordinary mosaic! Furthermore, separatism and disintegration seems to be useless in these areas in both the geopolitical and the ethnic sense. The impossibility of dividing Bosnia and Dagestan (due to their striped ethnic settlement) is symbolical for the larger regions they represent. Attempts to reach political objectives with the use of violence - with deportation and ethnic cleansing - leads only to the escalation of violence and the extension of a conflict. In the Caucasus, a number of contemporary conflicts are caused or were deepened by Stalin deportations; Bosnia represents a quite fresh evidence that the use of violence exerts an extremely long-term and negative influence on inter-ethnic relations. Only the western case, that of Ulster, might be compared to some extent with Bosnia and Dagestan. The same general distribution between East and West is indicated by the incorporation of macro-regional totals (Table 3).
The "effectiveness" of the scenario for Western Europe is seen from the fact that 14 additional "states" add only 3 more ethnic areas, but twice the absolute, proportional, and average figures of ethnic (areal) population. Ten more states in Southeastern Europe bring thirty new areas but very modest changes in their parameters, except the mean population size. This region is the best example of minorities multiplying in a form of partition. Finally, the scenario of disintegration looks least effective for the former Soviet Union, where 24 symbolically established states include an equal number of ethnic areas, the same average, but yielding a notable increase in their absolute population and percentage.
We hope that nobody takes this game seriously and implements it in practice. However, could such an endeavor be much more reasonable (if not attractive) now for Western European ethnic areas. This comes, first, from the fact that many states are not involved into the risky game at all, due to low ethnic-areal tensions. They are four of the five Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland (a unique, quiet European multinational federation), Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovenia. Some other states get off with the minimal losses; Corsica, Sardinia and Tyrol could claim their expected independence from France and Italy. There are only three states that are slated to suffer notably from secessions: Great Britain, Belgium and Spain. Among them, only Belgium eventually disappears from the scene.
In Southeastern Europe, the situation is different. Only Greece, Macedonia and Turkey (beyond their mutual painful relations which are another matter) are potential non-losers here. At the same time, the preconditions of a complete collapse are quite real for Bosnia and for the remains of Yugoslavia. Within the former USSR, there is only Belarus (as far as the Baltic states are counted with West Europe) that has no chance of losing a minority's area because of a very important uniform mixture of its basic minorities. Ukraine offers a distinct case, as it risks the loss of three of its areas, including the greatest European one (the half-Russian, eastern portion, or the so called "Novorossia").
Do the results mean that the East may stay calm while the West has to make some urgent efforts to prevent ethnic disintegration? Not at all! We speak only of the rational impact of similar events, but the very events are too often caused by emotional factors which have nothing to do with a calculation like this. The chain reaction of disintegration can go on spontaneously in the East and remain dormant in the West, especially under the EU roof.
Another problem can be analyzed as a special topic. What are the chances of survival in an "autonomous navigation" for those who are brave enough to start?
Scenario 2: General ethnic re-integration
German reunfication is perhaps not such an outstanding and unique experience as it is normally viewed - for contemporary European peripheries, at least. The wars in Bosnia and in Nagorno-Karabakh are influenced by similar aspirations. The 20-years story of Cyprus could take lace only in connection with somewhat more than simple support coming from Greece and Turkey. In fact, it was a sort of their latent reunification with the respective parts of the divided island. Finally, the goal of the IRA in Ulster, or of the Popular Front in the post-Soviet Moldova, is the same determination to join their neighboring "relatives". The crucial dilemma of real policy in cases like these focuses on tactics and strategy. It is convenient to decorate your final desire with the much more traditional slogans of struggle for independence, though for how long?
For our second scenario, however, the question is different: are there more prerequisites for living alone or for reunification with somebody who is very close? How does one measure the strength of "family ties"? It is evident that historical, linguistic, confessional and geopolitical similarity has to be taken into account. Nevertheless, have strictly speaking, we have decided to depart from our quantitative approach, to approach the extremely hypothetical second step by using our expert knowledge and techniques of estimation.
We suggest the above mentioned geographical cases as very probable for the scenario. At times, we were troubled by such problematic associations as "Lusitania" (i.e. Portugal plus "former" Spanish Galicia, based on their original Lusophonie, though it has been lost by many Galicians) or as "Great Cherkessia" and "Nakh Confederation" in Russian and partly in Georgian (Abkhazia in the first case) and Azerbaidjan Caucasus (united Lazistan as part of the second confederation). These doubts were based on
the fact there would be no dominating majority, nor one nation in some cases, but rather common outer enemies.
Flanders unified with the Netherlands and Wallonia incorporated by France, with "Free Brussels" as the EU capital and a memorial of Belgium, or "Great Hungary" restoring its historical rule over Transylvania, Upper (Slovak) Hungary, Transcarpathia (after its separation from Ukraine) and Hungarian Vojvodina (after its partition), seem to represent the middle of the corresponding ranking list.
In several cases, we restored recently disintegrated countries and areas: Russia plus Novorossia, Crimea, Northern "Russian-Nag" Dagestan and "Narva republic" in Russian-speaking Estonia; Ukraine plus Moldovian
Transdniestria and "Gagauzia" in Southern Moldova; "New Yugoslavia" formed
by different pieces of "independent Serbias" and Montenegro.
Figure 7 gives a general outlook of the scenario. The European political map appears less fragmented, especially in Eastern Europe, but seems even stranger and more risky than in the first scenario. It is understandable that newly aggregated states bring different minorities together, thereby diminishing their number and other parameters, except that of average strength. However, sometimes the process may be just the opposite.
Table 4 includes all three scenarios. Simple comparison leads to a statement that the shifts are much more radical in the East than in the West. The number of states is diminishing near threefold in both the Balkans and the ex-URSS. Moreover, in Southeastern Europe, the second version of the political map suggests the minimal number of actors if compared with the initial point. The Western fluctuations are less impressive. There is no effect for the number of ethnic areas for the whole of the West, while in the East they become less numerous than in the previous scenario.
The other three figures indicate the process of "optimization" step by step for Southeastern Europe in particular. The redrawn map makes the states more and more ethnically homogenous, and ethnic areas less and less populous. However, the map itself indicates the price paid for such a "progress" - the loss of compactness and the inevitable mutual enclaves of Slavic or Muslim populations in former Yugoslavia. In Western Europe, the newly aggregated nations also provide some improvement of the totals, percentages and means.
In this scenario, the worst situation is characteristic for the former Soviet republics. Any recombination makes the states less monoethnic in comparison with the rest of Europe. The area recovers its primary position, in terms of total population of ethnic areas, and the difference in their shares goes up. Consequently, the present status-quo (paradoxically far from being stable) looks much more acceptable for this portion of Europe.
As for European Russia, the interest is more in disintegration than in re-integration, since the latter scenario elevates as much as twice the total of its non-Russian population located in their homelands. Together, with its largest number of such homelands, the role of the major European non-melting pot is guaranteed, while the first scenario promises to solve many problems, at least with the Caucasian zone.
One or both of the scenarios may or may not come true, whether they are expected or not, and in either order. Furthermore, there could be some third way or any given number of ways besides the two, especially beyond the nation-state model as a base, like multinational integration Unions (EU and CIS). Beyond fantasies (perhaps less surrealistic then developed above), they could serve the best "outer locks" for ethnic claims and secessionism. A Europe of regions or localities (either ethnic, economic, social or natural), as well as a Europe of one or two superpowers, suggest well-known alternative resolutions. The former sounds new, while the latter appears as emerging from history. In fact, the two are rather interrelated and complementary.
First, let us emphasize once more the hope that what is expected may never occur; examination of the unexpected, at least, can prevent us from a surprise. "Knowledge itself is power"; Francis Bacon's words justify human curiosity but warn against careless games with knowledge. Europe is too old and too crowded for a new geopolitical catastrophe. That is why we must know more about any possible geopolitical mishaps.
Neither the fall of empires, nor the occurrence of bloody wars, nor the "peaceful" divorce of multiethnic countries could solve social and economic problems related to ethnic areas. The term "national state" is quite different from a monoethnic state, and for the east of the continent, the problem is by which means to break the relationship between these two notions in the mentality of people. First, it is necessary to use all well-known leverages, such as cultural autonomy, the creation of territorial units crossing ethnic boundaries, of special legislative and electoral systems, and of special minorities' representation. It is also possible to develop flexible forms of associations between the state and regions at all territorial levels - of the federal, confederal or of some intermediate type, based on multi- or bilateral agreements, etc. (like in Russian case).
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the general number of people belonging to national minorities in their ethnic areas in the post-Soviet space has been reduced several times. This is true for most former Union republics, with the important exception of Russia. At the same time, as in Europe as a whole during the past remaking of its political map, the number of "area" minorities has multiplied. The new nation-states leave to each other as a kind of hostages their important (or small, but militant) ethnic groups. It is worthwhile to recall the presence of Russians in Ukraine, of Ukrainians in Russia, of both groups in the self-proclaimed Transdniestrian Republic of Moldova, and of Armenians in Karabakh (Azerbaidjan).
It is possible to distinguish two types of ethnic areas. The first type consists of small, but contiguous and overlapping areas with a high conflict potential and strong political mobilization of minorities. This type may be described as "Balkan" or "Caucasian". The other type of ethnic areas includes minorities which are large by all measures, often represented in several ethnic areas, and are difficult to mobilize. This second form is typical of large, vast countries with a large population, like Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. These ethnic areas are more similar to Western European minorities and ethnic areas than those of the "Balkan" or "Caucasian" type.
Finally, Western Europe and the former Soviet Union turned out similar under the re-integration scenario which looks "non-efficient" in terms of general minority dynamics. The difference consists in the fact that in the East further disintegration still is quite possible as a continuation of the last wave. As for the West, the question, probably, could be solved without too many painful losses, if (once again) it manages to find the right way by avoiding the negative eastern experience.
The author Konstantin Axenov, Victor Koloskov