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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 1 .

The Challenge of Ethnic Conflict, Democracy and Self-Determination in Central Europe
Ole Nørgaard with Dan Hindsgaul, Lars Johannsen & Helle Willumsen.

(London: Frank Cass, 1997).
192pp. Index. £32.50; ISBN 0-7146-4752-7..
Pb.: £15.00; ISBN 0-7146-4308-4.

Ronen provides an impressive and rather extensive background to the ethnopolitical development in Central Europe, reaching from the Ottoman Empire up to the civil war in Yugoslavia.

Ethnicity in Ronen's discussion emphasises the psychological factors and the perception of threats. There is, according to Ronen, a certain extent of "dormant ethnic hatred", but as an instrument, not a cause. Important in Ronen's discussion is the human being and he steps away from the group categorisation as he looks at "human beings-human needs". But it is not just ethnicity, it is rather the political environment in which it exists that is of main concern. This is the main focus, the discussion on political systems and the structure of a state and how various regimes deal with ethnicity.

As a "solution" and an answer to Central European states, Ronen talks of two sovereignties, the economic and the socio-political. A provider of both would need to be supranational in order to boost the regional networks, thereby strengthening the nations, i.e. the minorities. An example of this could be a developed European Union. Rather interesting and on occasions farfetched ideas on the issue on policies, but the strength is in the discussion regarding the nation-state (outgrown and constructed) and what to come hereafter. His discussion on the political approach to ethnic conflict is interesting, in particular the questioning of democracy as the "saviour".

Ulf Hansson, University of Ulster

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