Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis

By Leokadia Drobizheva; Rose Gottemoeller et al. | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

18.

Indicators, Implications, and Policy
Choices

CATHERINE MCARDLE KELLEHER

As the preceding chapters have indicated, the end of Soviet hegemony in Central and Eastern Europe and the collapse of the USSR have been followed by a whole raft of new security concerns, perhaps even more dangerous in their unpredictability. Ethnic conflict is clearly the "heir to the throne" of Soviet Russia as the perceived number-one global security issue of the post—Cold War era. Both the conflicts that have boiled over on what is now Europe's periphery, from Bosnia to Chechnya to Tajikistan, and the tensions that are as yet only simmering will shape the future of peace and stability in Europe for the next decade.

Unquestionably, the way in which ethnic conflict is managed will have a direct and crucial impact on the economic and political development of the new states in Central Europe and Eurasia. The ability and willingness of international organizations, under the leadership of the West, to resolve and mediate ethnic disputes will directly determine whether democratization grows or withers in the face of radical politics and authoritarianism. The success of mediation will similarly influence the economic development of these states, optimally through maintaining at least some measure of present economic viability and by preventing dissolution into ever-smaller ethnic cantons, unable to survive politically or economically.

The success with which ethnic disputes are settled and tensions eased will have an equally important affect on the West in the next decade. It is crucial that West European nations and the United States alike take an active part in solving the problems of ethnic conflict, for the result of ethnic war is not only instability in the East. Ethnic wars also mean refugees flooding into the West, terrorism across Europe, the possibility of nuclear proliferation and fragmentation in new, unstable states, and an increase in tension among Western and Central European states that border areas of ethnic strife. 1 Ethnic strife is the number-one security issue in Europe in this decade, and thus it is in the fundamental national interest of every Western state to remain actively engaged in its mediation, prevention, and resolution.

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