Dear Reader, welcome to the first issue of Contemporary Southeastern Europe! This peer-reviewed journal is published as an open-access academic journal, by the Centre for Southeast European Studies. We are firmly committed to the highest standards of academic publishing, including rigorous, double-blind, peer review and making research available, free of charge, to an interested audience. As subscription costs rise and many libraries have to save resources, we are committed to making high quality research available for researchers without cost.
Contemporary ethnic bargaining theory claims that minority ethnopolitical mobilization is best understood through the influence of a third-party actor, whose signals can determine whether a minority will radicalise against or accommodate the position of the state majority. It is a dynamic approach, which Erin Jenne argues goes beyond the limits of explaining minority actions using purely structural features of a group, including economic status. This article questions to what extent, if any, do shifts in the economic status of a minority, host-state and kin state affect the ethnic bargaining game, particularly in times of crisis.
The elections of June 7, 2015 had the effect of a political earthquake. Turkey’s ruling AKP conceded a sharp drop of 9 percent (from 49.9 to 40.9 percent), losing, after 13 years in power the overall majority of seats. It was the first time the ruling party saw a dramatic fall in support. The AKP’s losses seem even more dramatic considering the opposition parties’ underrepresentation in media and the ruling party’s abuse of public resources.
On 27 June 2015, after five months of politics of brinkmanship in negotiations with the European Union / European Central Bank / International Monetary Fund (EU/ECB/IMF) troika, Alexis Tsipras, the Prime Minister of the unusual coalition government of the left-wing Coalition of the Radical Left (Synaspismos Rizospastikis Aristeras, SYRIZA) and the far-right Independent Greeks (Aneksartitoi Ellines, ANEL), all of a sudden, proclaimed a referendum, to be held on 5 July 2015. Apart from the post-junta referendum of 1974 on Republic, all other six referendums held in Greece during the 20th century were conducted in conditions of political turmoil, chaos and, in most of the cases, extensive electoral fraud.
When the future or, more specifically, a redirection of South-East European studies is discussed in a series of essays in this journal, one has to have in mind that this is not the first discussion of this kind – and for sure not the concluding one. In an increasingly globalizing world, area studies are under permanent critical observation. What can particular findings related to an area contribute to the understanding of the whole, the global, and how is the global represented in the particularities of an area? However, this kind of critical self-reflection that can sometimes result in self-deprecation was not always the case in the long history of the study of South-East Europe.
Two recent books on Kosovo offer some compelling insights and answers as to why international state-builders stumbled in Kosovo: Elton Skendaj’s, Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions and Andrea Lorenzo Capussela’s State-Building in Kosovo: Democracy, Corruption and the EU in the Balkans. Both books are welcome additions to the growing discourse on state-building and touch on some of the more important themes that have recently dominated the literature, including the principle of local ownership, the limitations of technocratic approaches to state-building, and the dilemmas of political corruption and state capture in postwar societies.