European integration and Eastern European nationalism: A comparative study of minority policies in Estonia, Latvia, Romania and Slovakia
The dissertation explores the impact of European economic integration and European institutions, such as the European Commission, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, on ethnic politics in four European Union (EU) applicant states, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Romania. It examines the variation in the compliance of the four states with international recommendations on minority policies. In exploring this question, the dissertation draws lessons about the influence of international institutions on domestic politics, about the prospects of European-level institutionalization of minority rights, and about the nature of nationalism in post-Communist Eastern Europe. It argues that European integration contributes to the reduction of the intensity of nationalist policies in applicant countries, where the majority group was divided on the appropriate path to stability and economic growth. In such cases, economic integration exaggerates divisions within the majority groups on socioeconomic policies and renders compromises among them difficult to maintain.
The linkage between compliance with European norms on minority rights and European Union (EU) membership has been weak. The dissertation argues that the constraints imposed by the European agreements on minority rights considerable room for maneuver on minority policies by Eastern European states. The weakness of the European norms on minority rights has not been a detriment in the intervention of international institutions in the countries studied. Minority policies depend on political will and are negotiable. In these negotiations, flexibility, willingness to compromise, and recognition of the political nature of minority issues has been key. In the cases explored in this dissertation, stronger norms on minority rights would not have contributed more to the solution of majority-minority disagreements.
The dissertation includes four case studies as well as chapters on the development of the European norms on minority rights and on the European Commission's approach to minority rights as part of the enlargement process.
0616: International relations
0335: European history