Ethnic Conflict and European Security: Lessons from the Past and Implications for the Future

  • October 01, 1996
  • Ms Maria Alongi

On October 23-25, 1995, coinciding with the Bosnia peace talks being held in Dayton, Ohio, Women in International Security (WIIS), an international, nonpartisan educational program; The Friedrich-Eberet Foundation; the U.S. Institute of Peace; and the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute sponsored a conference, "Ethnic Conflict and European Security: Lessons from the Past and Implications for the Future." Among the participants and attendees were scholars and policymakers from the United States and Europe concerned with the crisis in the Balkans and the larger ramifications of ethnic conflict for European security. This rapporteur's summary compiled by Ms. Maria Alongi captures the primary themes of the conference to include linkages between ethnicity and instability in Europe, the role European and transatlantic security institutions can play in mitigating those tensions, and the various positive roles Russia and the United States can play in resolving or lessening the impact of ethnic conflict. Ms. Alongi concludes that the nature of the threat posed by ethnic conflict to European security is bound inexorably to a political manipulation; an ethnicization of politics. And while the Balkan crisis held the potential for catapulting Europe back to July 1914, the way the international community reacted to head off a further deterioration in the situation provides some basis for optimism.