The Post-Accommodation Stages of Ethnic Relations: Political Structures and Actors as Challenges to Achieving Policy Goals

  • Abstract:

    More than twenty years after the collapse of communism, existing research on ethnic relations in Eastern Europe still predominantly looks at state compliance with treaty ratifications and the implementation of public policies aimed at ethnocultural diversity accommodation. Research endeavors seldom investigate the inbuilt or intervening challenges that may deviate minority accommodation instruments from their initially projected course. Aiming to address this gap, but faced with the absence of systematic macro and micro evaluations of policy impact, the overall goal of the paper is to bring into focus some of the existing challenges of the post minority accommodation period. The paper thus signals that minority integration does not stop after policy adoption and implementation, but continues and needs to be addressed conceptually as well as pragmatically as an emerging stage in majority-minority relations. Using critical discourse analysis and document analysis, the paper look in particular at post-communist Romania and engages in three analytical steps: first, it reviews the key minority claims expressed during the past twenty years and their time sequence; second, it analyzes how political actors have framed minority integration (by identifying key patterns of discourse, and investigating legislative-institutional developments). The findings uncover the implicit and explicit intended outcomes of minority integration. Finally, based on secondary literature on minority rights implementation and public debates in Romania, the paper explores several possible sources of distortion of the anticipated goals (built in the structural-institutional level, the community level and the interests of political actors). Finally, the conclusions examine whether the case can be made for applying some corrective mechanisms or redefining the initial goals.