What are the historical origins of ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia?
There was a significant ethnic rivalry in Yugoslavia. The conflicting ethnic groups appeared because of the differences that emerged in the state leadership. Initially, after the First World War, people from the Western Balkans were united under a single kingdom, which was called Yugoslavia. This kingdom included such nations as the Croats, Slovenes and the Serbs. In 1929 the kingdom acquired the name Yugoslavia (Patterson, 2013). However, ethnic rivalry began during the Second World War.
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The Nazi Germany raided Yugoslavia. Because of this invasion many people in the kingdom lost their lives. The raid aggravated the ethnic injustice. Particularly, the Croats worked with the Nazis. The rest of the group ended up as the victims. Josip Broz Tito, a communist of Croatian origin, eventually took over the power and built up resistance against the Germans and created a socialist state. His suppressing management accelerated the ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia.
How are religion, ethnicity, and political differences intertwined in the region?
The region was inhabited by many nations, which had diverse ethnicities and religions. The major religions in the former Yugoslavia were Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam. The Serbs and the Macedonians practiced Orthodox Christianity. On the other side, the Croats and the Slovenians were Catholics. The Bosnians and the Herzegovinians were Muslims.
In most cases one nation would identify itself with one particular religion. However, there were minorities, practicing “non-traditional” religions within each nation (Patterson, 2013). National groups on the territory of Yugoslavia identified themselves with certain religions. National identity was a synonym of religious confession for 54 per cent of Muslims, 51 per cent of Serbs and 50 per cent of Croats.
How important are international religious and political forces?
The religions that had the biggest influence in the field of politics were Christianity and Islam. First, the foreign Eastern Orthodox Churches promoted nationalism among the Balkans and assisted in the aggravation of the conflict. First of all, the church in Greece supported the Serb system by providing a swathe on their crimes. Secondly, the Catholic Church acknowledged the declaration of independence created by the Croatians and Slovenians (Patterson, 2013).
Finally, the international Muslim Association acted as a catalyst of the conflict that took place in Bosnia. The Muslims believed that it was their obligation to assist their friends at all times. The confrontations started to develop. However, non-Orthodox Christian confessions were accused in intentional ignorance towards the conflict and their hypocrisy towards the horrible events on the territory of Yugoslavia. It was difficult to take a side in that confrontation, but it was also wrong to ignore it for the international religious and political forces.
What role did socioeconomic factors play?
The factors that led to the war in the former Yugoslavia were a demographic outline and development of the economy. There were three ethnic religious groups in Yugoslavia. These groups were the Catholic Croats, Muslim Bosnians and the Orthodox Serbs. The diversity of ethnic groups in Yugoslavia deepened the conflicts.
For instance, in 1991 the relationship between the ethnic groups worsened (Patterson, 2013). The conflicts created a negative economic pressure. The downfall in the economic system of Yugoslavia paved way for nationalism. It made the ethnic groups engage is violent battles over power and influence.
How did religion intersect with these other factors in driving outcomes?
Political leaders used ethnic appeals to attract attention amongst their people. However, this strategy failed at times. Therefore, the leaders used their religious backgrounds to bring their communities together. Serious tension between different religious groups emerged (Patterson, 2013). The tension escalated under the influence of the economic crisis in Yugoslavia. Conclusively, involvements of religion in politics lead to religious rivalry and massive confrontations.
Patterson, E. (2013). Religion and Conflict Case Study Series. Bosnia: Ethno-Religious Nationalisms in Conflict, 1(1), 1-14.