Turkish Journal of International Relations

Turkish Journal of International Relations

Volume 1, Number 3, Fall 2002


The Continued Relevance of Sovereignty in a Globalising World: Yugoslavia and its Succesor States
By Paul Tsoundarou



The end of the Cold War saw a rapid increase in the demands for statehood claimed by various ethnic groups and national minorities throughout the globe. The conflict and tension over ideology had come to an end after fifty years, and was replaced by a period of uncertainty and instability. The period between 1989 and 1999 was a turbulent decade for many people, including the regions of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, Central Africa, the Middle East and many parts of Asia. Contributing to the decade of instability and uncertainty was the demand by various ethnic and national groups to their own statehood. In order to establish the statehood these people desired, they would have to separate from the state they were citizens of, along with territory and the community they belonged, and declare a new independent state. In the case of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, federal entities which consisted of core national groups seceded from these two ‘super-states’ to form a number of smaller, independent states. For Yugoslavia, the process was tragic with hundreds of thousands of deaths which are attributed to the succession of wars accompanying the disintegration of the state. The Soviet model of disintegration was more varied, with the formal dissolution of the state being peaceful, but the loss of centralized authority resulting in numerous peripheral conflicts between the newly formed states as well as internal strife within them. What the collapse of these ‘super-states’ and the establishment of smaller states demonstrates is that the concept of the state is still relevant, and that stateless national and ethnic groups make the dream of state-making and state-building a priority, whether or not the price is high.

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