The New European Diasporas

National Minorities and Conflict in Eastern Europe

March 01, 2000

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Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

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Europe and Eurasia

Race and Ethnicity

The European upheavals of the twentieth century have left in their wake a series of national minorities in Eastern Europe. These “new diasporas” have been created by the movement not of people, but of borders. The interaction of these minorities, the new states in which they are located, and the homeland state where their conationals predominate and from which they have been separated, is the leading cause of large-scale conflict in the wake of the collapse of communism. The politics of four of these European “national triads” is the focus of this important book.

At the heart of the unrest are the changing rules since World War II for determining borders, outlined by Council Fellow Michael Mandelbaum in his introduction. After his brief survey, regional specialists discuss the conditions and resulting conflicts of displaced nationals. Bennet Kovrig examines the status of the Hungarian diasporas, which came of out the post-World War I settlement and which remain a major issue for Hungary today. The Russian diaspora is the largest and potentially the most explosive in Eastern Europe. An estimated twenty-five million ethnic Russians live outside the borders of the Russian federation. Their adaptation to the status of national minorities thrust upon them by the dissolution of the Soviet Unionis the subject of Aurel Braun’s chapter.

Post-Cold War violence on the largest scale has emerged from the politics of the Serb diasporas following the breakup of Yugoslavia, which are recounted in a chapter by Susan Woodward. In another chapter, Elez Biberaj explores the least-known of the region’s divided nations—the Albanian. Mandelbaum, in his conclusion, surveys the methods available for mitigating the conflict to which internal minoritites all too often give rise.

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