chapter  9
11 Pages

Possibilities for Accommodation

ByMario Apostolov

The potential for conflict in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean does not stem from colliding systems of belief but from the inability to create a stable but flexible political system that can accommodate fragmented social identities, notably in periods of social transformations. Millennia-old regional complexes, based on shared social practices and popular beliefs, nourished a modus vivendi, yet the system of territorial nation states, with its penchant for homogenisation, hampered the construction of democratic regimes in plural societies. This part of the world faces a dilemma: how to reinforce démocratisation without allowing structurally complex communal conflicts to spread out. Democracy cannot be conceived just as a system of taking decisions on the basis of a majority vote. The identity, rights and interests of minorities should be respected for the sake of survival of society as a whole. Mere secularisation cannot solve the problem either. In some Arab states secularisation led to institutionalisation of communalism in an extreme form: the authoritarian rule of a single community. The authors of the Taif accords preferred reviving the power-sharing principle of “political confessionalism” to accepting such a “secularisation” (Picard, 1996, p. 163).