Like many other peoples throughout Europe, the Serbs form a community united by a common history and a common culture. Serbs feel specifically united by their historical sufferings, mainly the Ottoman rule until the 19th century and the persecution by the Croatian Usta'e during World War Two. As such, this united community suffered from two issues: on the one hand it has long been part of greater entities where it was not sovereign (Ottoman Empire, Yugoslav Republic), and on the other hand, its people expanded beyond its state boundaries, putting Serbs in a position of minority is other states. In these circumstances, the Serbian community may feel deprived of its rights and may see its ethnic identity as an essential reason for that. In this regard, though the identity may not be a relevant factor to explain or improve the Serbian situation, this issue just has to be raised for the debate and the political context to evolve towards ethnic issues. This issue may be purely manipulated by the elite to keep other issues that might jeopardize their domination, away from political debate (reforms).
[...] Indeed, though Serbian leaders were totally free to raise whatever issue when they did not truly need the support of the population, in the 1990s, after the introduction of multiparty democracy, Serbian leaders had to adapt their political behavior in order to influence the whole population; and yet, not only did Serbs represent only a minority of the population even in Serbia, but also, according to a poll cited by Gagnon in another article (Ethnic Conflict as Demobilizer: The Case of Serbia), half of the Yugoslavs considered good interethnic relations to be a priority issue in 1992. [...]
[...] Moreover, if the federal authority is weak or illegitimate, like Yugoslav Republic after Tito's death, the ethnic nationalism may become really strong. As Vladisavljevic acknowledges it, “rising levels of mobilization in a complex multinational society and sharpened elite conflicts in turn highlighted the underlying inter-regional and inter-ethnic cleavages.” from a power struggle to an ethnic conflict Thus, even though the rise of Milosevic was the outcome of a normal power struggle, it is expected that the issues raised were interpreted in terms of ethnicity. [...]
[...] Conclusion - towards an unwanted and out of control ethnic conflict However, once the political debate has been settled in terms of ethnicity, it is difficult to escape it. Thus, even the various calls of Milosevic for unity are made in terms of ethnicity. For example, he said, in a speech in 1991: Serbian people and all citizens of Serbia should take part in this battle for Yugoslavia in line with their best traditions and most progressive achievements, bearing in mind their interests but also considering the interests of all others, that is to say, of those with whom we should share our life together”. [...]
[...] the ethnic conflict as a undesirable outcome of political struggle the spread of the ethnic conflict: the role of the media Though no one can assess the influence of political struggle on the ethnic conflict, it seems clear that elites, in the broad sense of the term, had a great role. If Vladisaljevic argues that the political elite did not trigger the conflict, it is because his definition of is too narrow: the political elite possessed tools that allowed it to shape the national debate. [...]
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