Identity, definition, and the concepts of ingroup ("we") and outgroup ("they") are key issues in understanding ethnic conflicts in the post cold-war era. Such identity conflicts express existential needs, values, safety, dignity, control over destiny, and are rooted in complex and multidimensional psychological, historical, and cultural factors. The frustration of these basic needs along with a denial of human rights leads to social conflicts (Fisher 1997).
As Rothmans (1997) stresses, the differences between identity and interest conflicts are not precise. All identity conflicts contain interest conflicts: moreover, many ignored or unresolved interest-based conflicts can become identity conflicts. Burton (1987, 1990) calls identity conflicts "deep-rooted conflicts" and stresses that they are not based on negotiable interest and position, but on underlying needs that cannot be compromised. Azar suggests (1990) that the source of such protracted social conflicts is not in economic and power goals, but in the denial of elements necessary to the development of all people, and whose pursuit is therefore a compelling need. In identity conflict, "groups struggle for their basic physical and moral survival" (Rothmans 1997: 9). Such conflicts arise when identity groups perceive that they are oppressed and victimized through a denial of recognition, security, equity, and political participation (Fisher 1997).
Research on ethnic conflicts and violence show a set of factors that have significant impact on conflict behavior and negative intentions toward outgroups. In numerous studies, it appears that salient ethnic identity, ethnocentrism, perceived economic deprivation, and minority position of the ingroup have a strong negative impact on ethnic violence in weak states with sizeable and aggrieved minorities. As Brubaker (1996) points out, ethnic identity politics and minority grievances lead to tensions; the formation of nation in new independent states evokes the activity of national minorities and their proclivity to initiate conflicts.
However, the establishment of new states embodies the potential for economic independence, human dignity, and the self-esteem of the population (Kelman 1997). In addition to a contribution to escalation and self-perpetuation of identity-based conflicts, national identity building in post-communist societies is, therefore, a process that may create superordinate peaceful identity and opportunities for the resolution of conflict.
This study considers the impact such factors as national identity building and ethnic identity revival have on processes of conflict prevention, resolution, and reconciliation. The purpose of this paper is to study the moderation effects of national identity building on interrelations between conflict indicators and readiness for conflict or compromise for two ethnic minorities in the Crimea.
Context of the Research
In the context where the research took place, Crimea in Ukraine, the ethnic minority groups (Russians and Crimean Tatars) are now in the process of adopting a new national identity. Crimea was a nominally independent khanate of the Ottoman Empire until 1783, when it was annexed by Russia. After the Russian Revolution, Crimea was briefly independent from 1917 to 1918 and then incorporated into the Soviet Union as an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation in 1921. This autonomous status was abolished in 1944. In 1954, Crimea was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and this status continued when Ukraine became independent in 1991. The current population of Crimea is nearly 2.5 million. Ethnic Russians comprise 64 percent of the population, 23 percent are Ukrainians, 10 percent are Crimean Tatars, and 3 percent are Belorussians, Armenians, Greeks, Germans, Jews, and others.
The Crimea of the 1990s had substantial potential for ethnopolitical violence. Multiple "nested autonomies" conflicts arose from the resettlement of 250,000 Crimean Tatars who had been deported to Central Asia by Stalin in 1944, overlapping with the collapse of the Soviet Union that engendered irredentist autonomy claims by Crimea's majority ethnic group, the Russians (Fearon 1998; Van Evera 1995). The resettlement also changed the ethnic balance of the population through the insertion of an ethnically divergent group and resulted in land and property disputes and citizenship claims by the new arrivals. Crimean Tatars received state donations and funds for resettlement. This fact increased negative attitudes among Russians, who also experienced economic deprivation. At the same time, Russians had better access to jobs and education than Crimean Tatars. The unraveling of the communist system of government has also posed challenges to new political institution-building, social reorientation toward the market economy, and the definition of new concepts of post-Cold War national security for Ukraine as a newly independent state.
Russians and Crimean Tatars differ in their conceptions of the legitimacy of their positions in Ukraine (Korostelina 2000a, 2000b). Crimean Tatars consider it legitimate to reclaim their possessions and reestablish national-territorial autonomy. Russians aspire to establishing closer relations with Russia and perceive the Crimean Tatar autonomy as a step toward Crimean incorporation in the Muslim world. Conversely, Crimean Tatars fear that local autonomy will never be granted if Crimea is part of Russia. Hence, the goals of Russians and Crimean Tatars are incompatible with formation of a common national identity.
Currently in Ukraine, the Ukrainian language is the only official language and the only language for education. Acceptance of Ukrainian culture and customs and proficiency in Ukrainian language now is the only way to receive high social status. Adopting a Ukrainian national identity also can provide self-esteem and human dignity for members of ethnic minorities and make them feel like equal citizens of an independent state. National shared identity may unite people in the Ukraine in the development of a common State. We expect that the influence of national identity formation will be different for the two main ethnic minorities in Ukraine: Russians and Crimean Tatars.
We focused on the moderation effect of national identity on the impact of conflict indicators of the readiness of …