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11-04-2006

ECMI Working Paper #27 available

#27: Bieber, Florian and Winterhagen, Jenni:
Ethnic Violence in Vojvodina:
Glitch or Harbinger of Conflicts to Come?

Ethnically motivated incidents in Vojvodina have influenced international debates about Serbia over the past few years. This working paper attempts to reach a better understanding of the scale and nature of the incidents in 2004. It argues that while the incidents have been alarming, their real significance lies in the broader problems they shed light on. The acts of violence, graffiti and damage to sites associated with minority communities shed light on three particular aspects to be discussed in the working paper. First, the political elites and institutions in Serbia have been responding only slowly and under international pressure to the incidents, which attests to the challenges of majority-minority relations in Serbia. Second, the incidents reveal the strong attraction of nationalism to the youth which grew up under the Milošević regime. Third, a pattern of separate lives has become a feature of majority-minority relations in Vojvodina, as is already a problem in other regions of Serbia. Altogether, the incidents and their context suggest that nationalism and strained minority-majority relations are not merely a passing legacy of the Milošević era, but more deeply engrained and will remain a formidable obstacle if not tackled.

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