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An Inevitable Tendency of Ethnic Nationalism

(Some Initial Thoughts, Some Tentative Conclusions)

Preliminary Remarks

Most nation-states, theoretically speaking, are teleological entities: They have an ultimate goal and they exist in order to achieve it. That goal is to form and maintain one nation in one country; to bring all the members of a single national or ethnic group [1], and preferably only them, in a unified political structure (Walzer, 1983), and to assimilate/integrate those who are different but happen to live in that country, into that one nation. However, very few nation-states [2] have achieved that goal. In almost every part of the world various ethnic groups live together, or side by side, and, therefore, it is virtually impossible to draw a set of boundaries that encloses people from one ethnic group and one ethnic group only (Chazan, 1991a). In addition, it is extremely difficult to assimilate everyone who is different with the dominant ethnic group. Hence, what distinguishes the nation-state is that the largest number of its citizens are members of a single nation, (often a single ethnic group), from which the state as a whole takes its character (Walzer, 1983). All other citizens are members of minority groups, and they tend to be seen, and see themselves as outsiders. The politics of the nation-state at its linguistic, cultural, or religious dimensions is dominated by a single ethonational or (since I mentioned culture and religion) 'ethnocultural' group. Consequently, relations between the dominant group and the minority or minorities, are all too often tense; sometimes conflict-ridden.
[For a more detailed discussion on this issue, see my article on Nation-States and Minorities].

A very significant characteristic of many conflicts between ethnic majorities and minorities, or between the minority and the government which often is under the control of the majority, is what Heraclides (1990) calls 'external involvement:' Another state, usually a neighboring state, gets involved in the conflict, declaring that it aims to support and protect the rights and interests of the minority. It does so, because the ethnic group that happens to be the minority in the country where the conflict is taking place, is the majority in the country that decides to get involved. There is, then, an ethnic connection, hence a strong emotional bond, between the between the former and the latter. In many cases, the neighboring country's objective (explicit, implied, or suspected) is more radical than just protecting the rights and interests of the minority: its objective is to 'liberate,' or to 'redeem' that minority and the territory in which it lives. This goal and the set of policies to achieve it constitutes the core of 'irredentism.'

Irredentism invariably has an aggravating effect on minority-majority conflicts. By enhancing mutual suspicion and enmity, it frequently engenders violence, and, sometimes, even war.


This essay is an attempt to explore irredentism as a 'natural' inclination of ethnic nationalism, and its exacerbating impact on conflicts involving ethnic majorities and minorities. After examining how this widespread phenomenon is perceived and defined by experts in interethnic relations, I will try to explain why it intensifies majority-minority conflicts. Then I will analyze the role of irredentism today, in the post-Cold-War Era, and the dangers it poses in several parts of the world. I will conclude by discussing how conflicts involving irredentism end, and how they can be managed, or perhaps settled.

What is Irredentism?

The term irredentism, derived from the Italian "terra irredenta" (unredeemed land), was first used to refer to the Italian-speaking areas under Austrian rule during the second half of the 19th Century. Italy, after achieving unification, fought Austria repeatedly in order to annex those territories (Chazan, 1991a; von Hippel, 1994; Carment & James, 1995).

Irredentism, though a common phenomenon in world politics, has not been examined or researched extensively[3]. It is usually considered a special case of secession and thus it is dealt with only as a secondary topic (von Hippel, 1994). There is also a tendency to discount irredentist claims because they are more anachronistic in character, whereas secession is based on the modern and popular principle of self-determination (von Hippel, 1994). And yet, as I will try to demonstrate in this article, irredentism is a very topical phenomenon, whose importance has increased since the end of the Cold War. Therefore it deserves much more scholarly attention than it has gotten so far.

One reason why irredentism has been neglected by social scientists may be the way it has been defined. Its most common definitions are rather limited:

"Any territorial claim made by one sovereign national state to lands within another" (Mayall, 1990: 57);
"A particular facet of nationalism, where a national movement that is a minority in a given territory seeks to rejoin the mother country" or
"an attempt made by an existing state to 'redeem' territories and peoples it considers its own" (Chazan, 1991b: 140).
These definitions imply that a state openly tries to annex a territory from another state, or that a minority openly demands that the land which it inhabits be separated from the country to which it currently belongs and be united to another country. These are the more extreme, the more intense forms of irredentism, and do not occur very often.

Donald Horowitz (1992) has defined irredentism in a broader sense. He has argued that irredentism contains two subtypes:

"The attempt to detach land and people from one state in order to incorporate them in another (...)
and the attempt to detach land and people divided among more than one state in order to incorporate them in a single new state - a 'Kurdistan,' for example, composed of Kurds now living in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey" (Horowitz, 1992: 119).
This definition, albeit more comprehensive, is not endorsed by most scholars, for they do not see the second subtype as a version of irredentism. These scholars consider the involvement of an established state a necessary condition for any attempt or policy to be called 'irredentist' (Chazan, 1991a). Hence, they regard attempts initiated by non-state actors (e.g. Kurdish parties) as a totally different category.

An even broader definition was suggested by Jacob Landau (1991: 81): "An ideological or organizational expression of passionate interest in the well-being of an ethnic or cultural minority living outside the boundaries of the states inhabited by the same group."[4] This definition, thanks to its emphasis on passionate interest, is more general, more inclusive, and enables many cases of external state involvement to be analyzed as 'irredentist.' (Yet it neglects the territory factor, which is extremely important in every case of irredentism). In fact, given the international legal framework (which I examine below), most countries that have plans or desires to annex a territory and people from another state do not explicitly declare them. Instead, they prefer to express 'passionate interest in the well-being' of the minorities whom they regard as their ethnic brethren. It is only if we adopt such a broad definition, that we can understand how common a phenomenon irredentism has become today.

Irredentism, as it has been formulated and pursued since the 19th Century, seems to be strongly connected with the aggressive aspects of nationalism. Yet, as Ben-Israel (1991) points out, irredentism is just the modern expression of expansionism, an age-old phenomenon. In addition, it is based on "atavistic feelings for territory and for kith and kin" (Ben-Israel, 1991: 33). Indeed, even before the emergence of nationalist ideologies, many states, or groups of states, attempted to justify expansionist policies by employing the argument of redeeming territory or liberating their brethren. For instance, the justification for the Crusades was to redeem the Holy Land and to liberate fellow Christians from the dominance of Muslims.

One could assert, therefore, that irredentism is based on two basic, primal drives: (1) The drive to expand, to maximize power and wealth (i.e., expansionism); and (2) affinity for kith and kin, dislike, fear, and contempt toward the different who is also considered either an enemy or potential enemy. These are exactly the same drives that engender and reinforce nation-states and nationalisms, especially ethnic ones. The two phenomena, therefore, have the same psychological roots, which is another indication of how tightly they are connected.

Having such roots, irredentism is, not surprisingly, extremely violence-prone: It can very often and rather easily result in violent conflict. David Carment (1993) and Patrick James (Carment & James, 1995), based on their research in which they used the International Crisis Behavior Project database (which includes all the international crises, major and minor) from 1945 to 1988, have concluded that irredentist conflicts tend to be the most violent ones, and the most likely to escalate into full-scale war[5]. Midlarsky (1992), through his historical analysis on the origins of the First World War reaches a similar conclusion. But he goes one step further and suggests that irredentist conflicts have the potential to affect the whole region where they break out, that they can spill over, resulting in a large-scale regional or even global war.

Irredentism, therefore, is a very dangerous and potentially very destructive process. But how does specifically affect the minority which is the object of this process?

Irredentism and Ethnic Minorities

As I mentioned above, the stated goal of irredentism is, in its radical form, to 'liberate,' to 'redeem' an ethnic minority and the territory in which it lives from the domination of a nation-state [6], and in its moderate form, to aggressively defend that minority's rights and interests. Thus irredentism, as a set of policies and actions, purports to be helping that minority. However, an irredentist approach to a minority, as a rule, does not improve but worsens its status and conditions. There are two reasons why this happens:

(a) Irredentism frequently contributes to a process of self-fulfilling prophesy [7] for both the (discriminated against) minority [8] and the nation-state in whose territory that minority lives: When the nation-state realizes that another state (almost invariably a neighboring state) has initiated an irredentist policy aiming at that ethnic minority, the government of that nation-state starts perceiving it as a threat to the national security and integrity[9]. Not only does it feel vindicated that it discriminated against the minority in the past, but it adopts even more oppressive policies to discourage the minority from endorsing irredentist/secessionist goals. Yet, these new oppressive measures are regarded by the leaders of the minority as an evidence that their group can no longer continue to live under the domination of that government. They thus develop stronger ties with the irredentist state [10]. Such ties are viewed by the oppressive government as yet another justification of their policies and as a reason to increase the level of oppression. The leaders of the minority respond by mobilizing their group against the state and seek the active support of the irredentist state for their struggle. The oppressive government often confronts this mobilization with violence which in turn engenders counter-violence from the minority and results in the active involvement of the irredentist state in the conflict [11].

Such a conflict proves detrimental for the minority, even when it eventually secedes from the oppressive nation-state and joins the irredentist one. And it should be noted that irredentist movements are usually not fully successful (von Hippel, 1994) [12] Thus minorities end up worse off than they used to be before the emergence of the conflict.

(b) What is central in many irredentist movements is territory and not population, despite the irredentist state's assertions to the contrary. [In these cases the expansionist component prevails over the affinity component.] There are several cases of irredentism that involve territories without even the existence of an ethnic minority related to the irredentist nation[13] (e.g. Argentina's claim to the Falklands - Mayall, 1990) [14]. When minorities are not central, they become a mere pawn in the irredentist game (Ben-Israel, 1991). The irredentist state is not really concerned with the well-being of the group. It just tries to use it as a destabilizer. Sometimes the irredentist state modifies its policies or even postpones its irredentist goals leaving the minority at the mercy of the government against which it helped mobilize.

Therefore it is the minorities that suffer the brunt of irredentism's negative consequences. That is why ethnic minorities are often not very enthusiastic about irredentism. According to Horowitz (1992) they are even more likely to develop secessionist movements than support irredentist ones originating from the 'mother-countries.'

Irredentism at the End of the 20th Century

Since the end of the Second World War, but particularly after the end of the Cold War, irredentism has been experiencing a paradox:

On the one hand, international treaties, and, hence, international law, have virtually outlawed any irredentist policy. The more recent the international documents the more explicit they are in condemning and banning irredentist actions and aspirations. For example, the UN Charter emphasizes respect for borders and national integrity (von Hippel, 1994); the Cairo Resolution of 1964, sponsored by the Organization of African States, declares that "the borders of the African states on the day of independence constitute a tangible reality" and that "the member states pledge themselves to respect the borders existing on their achievement of independence" (Neuberger, 1991: 107). The Helsinki Final Act (signed in 1975) stresses the inviolability of borders in Europe (Hyde-Price & Roper, 1991). This principle is repeated in other CSCE / OSCE documents, as well. Respect for the borders and the national integrity of the participating states is a principle that is mentioned in nearly every regional treaty. And one might even argue, as Heraclides (1990: 377) does, that "international regime favors the territorial integrity of states at any cost;" because almost every state has within it disaffected groups, and, therefore, it fears that support given to an ethnic group within another country would only encourage similar claims within its own borders (von Hippel, 1994).

On the other hand, as we approach the 21st Century, the breakdown of Cold-War-determined regional hegemonic arrangements in Eastern Europe, East Asia, Africa and the Middle East, inevitably brings to the agenda the need to redefine political boundaries, reemphasize nationalistic ideologies, and reconsider national goals (Chazan, 1991b). This is the perfect environment for irredentist aspirations to reappear. And they do reappear. Within the last few years, we have seen the reemergence of many irredentist conflicts, in a vast area stretching from the Northern Balkans (Transylvania) to Spratly and Kurile islands in the Pacific Ocean. The governments of the states in this huge geographic area are confronted with political and economic instability, a rebirth of ethnic nationalism, and a pressure for democratization. In addition, the legitimacy of the borders is increasingly being questioned (Carment & James, 1995). Under these circumstances, and given the extreme violence-prone nature of irredentist conflicts, the world is now facing the real possibility of dozens of wars breaking up, almost simultaneously, in the very near future.

The international community, therefore, (but the field of conflict resolution, in particular) should be equipped to anticipate, manage, and settle such conflicts.

Yet before considering strategies to handle these conflicts, one should examine how these conflicts end:

- How do irredentist conflicts end? and
- How can they be managed or settled?

There are four main outcomes of irredentist conflicts (Chazan, 1991a):
(a) Successful readjustment of boundaries and territories to satisfy irredentist interests;
(b) The redefinition of the minority group struggle, usually highlighting separatism at the expense of irredentism;
(c) The (temporary) withdrawal of irredentist demands (frequently as a result of a defeat of the irredentist state and/or minority), but with the prospect of them reappearing again some time in the future, when conditions change; and
(d) Accommodation and compromise through negotiation. Such an accommodation often involves some type of autonomy (cultural or territorial, or both) for the ethnic minority, as well as the recognition of some special relationship between that minority and the state that had made the irredentist demands [15].

The fourth outcome, albeit the most preferable, does not guarantee a permanent solution to the conflict. Just like the third outcome, any compromise may be temporary; when circumstances change, irredentism may resurface again.

Why is it so hard to completely eliminate irredentism? Why is there always the possibility of irredentism's reemergence? One answer to these questions can be found in the theoretical underpinnings of the nationalistic ideologies of irredentist states:

Based on the criterion of "distinctiveness" of the population that constitutes a nation, Anthony D. Smith (1983) has classified nationalistic ideologies into three:

(i) Ethnic nationalisms: This type of nationalism emphasizes the differences of an internally (relatively) well integrated group distinguishing itself from the surrounding groups on the basis of a set of cultural or physical characteristics. The aim, the ultimate goal, the 'telos' of this nationalism is to establish a state or expand it in such a way that state and ethnic boundaries would coincide (The typical example of this version of nationalism is German nationalism, particularly until the end of World War II).

(ii) Territorial nationalisms: This type of nationalism tries to build or construct a nation (chiefly by emphasizing common goals, ideals and emotional links) out of many ethnic groups in a certain territory, within certain political boundaries. (The official, government-promoted version of American nationalism is a very good example of this type of nationalism.)

(iii) Mixed nationalisms: This type of nationalism consits of both ethnic and territorialist elements: It tries to build a nation out of relatively heterogeneous groups by emphasizing their commonalities (which may be of cultural or physical nature), and at the same time it aims at establishing a political unit or expanding it in such a way that it would include the whole nation (as that is defined by the nationalistic ideology itself). (For example: The Arab nationalism, or pan-Arabism, of the '50s and '60s - more specifically its Nasserite or Ba'athist version).

Irredentism is a 'natural' characteristic and inherent predisposition of ethnic nationalism and the ethnic dimension of mixed nationalism. If the goal is to unite all the members of an ethnic/national group under one political unit, those members who live outside the boundaries of that unit must somehow be brought in without being uprooted from their territory (mass migration is the last resort). The separation of sections of the group is viewed as an insult to the integrity of the nation. Therefore irredentism is understood as a legitimate desire to reach completeness (Smith, 1983).

Nevertheless, nationalisms, ethnic or otherwise, tend to be very pragmatic, down-to-earth, realistic, and flexible ideologies. They do, of course, have a utopian component, or, to put it differently, for every nationalistic ideology there is a corresponding nationalistic utopia [16], but nationalists attempt to reach their 'telos' recognizing the limitations created by the circumstances. And it is this pragmatism that makes irredentist conflicts manageable or even 'settleable'.

Nationalistic governments are mostly reluctant to initiate overtly irredentist policies, not only because international law does not legitimate such policies, but, more importantly, because they know, they understand, that irredentism runs the risk of being extraordinarily costly, of splitting public opinion, of thus upsetting delicate domestic balances, and of ultimately failing (Chazan, 1991b). If a government arouses irredentist dreams but cannot deliver what it promises, it may not be forgiven by the public [17] (Mayall, 1990).

The leaders of ethnic minorities also tend to be not very willing to pursue full-scale irredentist goals [18]. They usually express limited demands (autonomy, non-discrimination) and at the same time try to gradually strengthen the ties of the minority with the 'mother country.'

Any initiative or strategy to manage or handle such conflicts, therefore, has to benefit from this reluctance (both of the 'mother country' and of the minority leadership) to adopt full-scale irredentism. It is this reluctance that creates what Mitchell (1992) calls a 'theoretical base for compromise.' It is thus possible to conceive a mediation or facilitation process to manage or settle an irredentist conflict. The question, then, becomes: Who should be the intermediaries, and what role each of them can play (Mitchell, 1992)?

Gurr (1992) suggests that governments address minority grievances with the facilitation or mediation of international bodies (preferably as 'convenors,' see Mitchell, 1992) and NGOs (as 'advocates for the process,' and 'enskillers', providing minority leaders with the necessary skills to negotiate), along with a few regional and interested states (perhaps as disentaglers of interests of the internal parties from those of their external patrons (Mitchell, 1992), and probably as reassurers of probable success of the process), including --inevitably-- the state that is suspected to have irredentist goals (as guarantors for the minority). Extra-regional influential states and regional organizations can also be considered as mediators, especially if the conflict has become a violent one.

The UN has definitely a very important part to play in handling such irredentist conflicts. Yet conflict management carried out by this organization needs to be more proactive (Carment & James, 1995). To achieve this objective, major structural changes need to be instituted at the UN (von Hippel, 1994); changes that would facilitate preventive diplomacy and humanitarian intervention to tackle irredentist and interethnic conflicts, and deal with the plight of minorities.

The United States, too, as the only superpower on earth, can play a very influential role in the management of irredentist conflicts [19]. Reaching a settlement in such conflicts often requires a mediator with leverage (one that can provide effective sticks and attractive carrots), and the US is best suited to play that role. However, this country has been blamed for only attending to conflicts late in their development, in a reactive as opposed to proactive fashion, and often because of television coverage or some large-scale humanitarian disaster (like a genocide) (von Hippel, 1994).

Concluding Remarks

As Chazan points out (1991b: 148-149) the intensity of irredentist conflicts can be reduced by "an adherence to some fundamental concepts of pluralism and respect for minority rights." However, unless an ethnic nationalism is transformed into a territorial one, irredentist predispositions can never be fully suppressed. Irredentism is a component of the 'telos' of ethnic nationalism, and the only way to change the telos of this type of nationalism is by changing the nationalism itself. This is too radical a change to be suggested as a solution to irredentist conflict. Such a suggestion would also be contrary to a current trend; one that has become all too apparent after the end of the Cold War: Ethnic nationalism is on the rise all over the world, and territorial nationalism is on the decline.

Since ethnic nationalisms will probably be the dominant form of nationalism for decades to come, we have to accept their nature, including their irredentist predispositions, and try to develop mechanisms, methods, strategies to manage or settle [20] conflicts that they have created and will create in the future. The sooner we do that the better.


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Chazan, Naomi (1991b) "Irredentism, Separatism, and nationalism (Conclusion)," in N. Chazan (ed.) Irredentism and International Politics. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publ.: 139-151.

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[1] I define an ethnic group -like Eriksen (1993: 10-12)- as a group of people, who firmly believe that they are ethnically and/or culturally distinct from the rest of the population. An ethnic group is primarily an "emic group of ascription;" in other words, how its members perceive themselves and their differences from other groups is more important than any definition or categorization done by outsiders. It is, therefore, futile to search for an objective and general definition, based on specific criteria like language, history, skin color etc., even though such criteria, to a lesser or greater degree, are included in the self-definition of ethnocultural groups.
An ethnic minority, then, is an ethnic group, that is numerically smaller and/or politically less powerful than the dominant group in a country's population. The term minority, of course, is a "relative and relational" concept (Eriksen, 1993: 121): It is meaningful, only in relation to the 'majority,' and it is not a permanent characterization for any ethnocultural group: Demographical changes, border changes, mass migrations, and radical social changes leading to redefinition of social boundaries can make a minority majority, and vice versa. [Back]

[2] I therefore disagree with Walker Connor, who defines nation-state as a "territorial-political unit [...] whose borders coincide or nearly coincide with the territorial distribution of a national group" (Connor, 1978: 382). The term nation-state in this essay is defined as a territorial-political unit under the (official) control of a national/ethnic group (Staatsvolk) which is usually the majority of the population. I should emphasize 'official control,' because constitutionally and according to the International Law, nation-states and their territories are considered to belong to, or to be identified by, the Staatsvolk. That is why they are, as a rule, named after the dominant or majority group; thus, Germany is the land of the Germans, France, the land of the French, Turkey, the land of the Turks, etc. Ethnic or national homogeneity, as I try to explain in this article, is not a requirement for a state to be called a nation-state. Rather, it is a goal to be achieved by the state and/or a claim that would induce the population to collectively imagine itself as homogenous. [Back]

[3] Even though there are some very well-researched, very elaborate case studies involving irredentism (see, for example: Jacob, 1981 and Kolsto et al., 1993), one can find very few books or articles that examine irredentism as a general, global phenomenon. [Back]

[4] Landau (1995) also examines, as a special type of irredentism, the 'pan-' ideologies and movements (e.g. Pan-Turkism, Pan-Germanism, Pan-Slavism, and pan-Arabism -- see also Mixed Nationalisms) that generally aim at promoting the solidarity or union of ethnic groups physically in different states, but connected with each other by a common or similar language, race or tradition or by some other tie, such as geographic proximity. [Back]

[5] Through a research on secessionism, Heraclides (1990) reached parallel and corroborating conclusions: He found out that neighboring states find it difficult to avoid becoming involved in nearby conflicts, and that states which are adjacent to the secessionist region of a neighboring state are likely to support the secessionists, thus contributing to the violence. [Back]

[6] That minority, incidentally, being concentrated in 'its' territory, may even be the numerical majority in that area (Carment & James, 1995). {Back]

[7] Robert K. Merton defines self-fulfilling prophesy as "[a process through which] public definitions of a situation (prophecies or predictions) become an integral part of the situation and thus affect subsequent developments" (Merton, 1948: 195). [Back]

[8] An irredentism aiming at liberating a minority obviously cannot develop if the minority members do not feel somewhat discontented with the policies of the nation-state under whose jurisdiction they live. Thus, it usually is the (discriminatory) policies of the nation-state that trigger the conflict. Irredentism emerges as a reaction to those policies (Jacob, 1981). [Back]

[9] McIntosh et al. (1995) have found out in their research conducted in Romania and Bulgaria, that the threat factor associated both with the ethnic minority (Hungarians in Romania, Turks in Bulgaria) and a neighboring state that is feared to have irredentist goals (Hungary vis-a-vis Romania and Turkey vis-a-vis Bulgaria) is the main predictor of intolerance toward the minorities, and the primary excuse for oppressive policies. [Back]

[10] In the meantime, the irredentist state, through "international networks of communication, including the mass media" is usually engaged in a widespread 'expression of passionate interest' toward the minority (Gurr, 1992: 4). [Back]

[11] I would argue that the conflict in Kosovo is a typical example of this process of self-fulfilling prophecy (see, for instance, Denitch, 1994: 117-126). [Back]

[12] Consider, for instance the conflicts in Krajina (in Croatia), Bosnia, Kosovo, Transdnistria, or Kashmir. All of them are, at least partially, irredentist. [Back]

[13] This type of irredentism is usually justified/rationalized through historical arguments: "That territory used to be part of our homeland, but was unjustly taken from us" (Mayall, 1990: 57). [Back]

[14] On the other hand, the desire to redeem a minority without redeeming a territory usually results in mass migrations (like the migration of Russian and Ethiopian Jews to Israel) which is a phenomenon quite different from irredentism, at least as it is defined and delineated in this essay. [Back]

[15] Nevertheless, in some cases, ethnic minorities might not benefit from that compromise at all. On the contrary, they might be totally obliterated through mass transfers of populations. For example, the bloodiest and most violent phase of the irredentist conflict between Greece and Turkey ended with a compulsory transfer of populations: 1.3 million Greeks and Christians had to leave Turkey and migrate to Greece and about 500,000 Turks and Muslims left Greece and migrated to Turkey, This marked the end of the Greek presence in Asia Minor and of the Turkish presence in Greece (except Western Thrace) (Chazan, 1991b; see also: Kitsikis, 1988). [Back]

[16] For a comparison and contrast between utopias and ideologies, see Mannheim (1936). [Back]

[17]Even authoritarian regimes become vulnerable after such a failure. There are many examples of dictatorships that could not survive after failing to achieve an irredentist goal: Two recent examples of authoritarian regime collapse after a failure of an irredentist attempt are the Greek junta after having failed to annex Cyprus in 1974, and the Argentine junta, after the Falklands debacle in 1982. [Back]

[18]These leaders are generally aware and worried that even if irredentist goals are achieved and their group joins the 'mother country,' their influence will decline, for their authority will become subordinate to the national leadership (Horowitz, 1992). [Back]

[19]One could argue that if it were not for the influence and pressure of the US, an agreement like the one that was reached in Dayton could not have been achieved, and the Bosnian conflict, a conflict of multiple irredentisms, could not have entered the phase of settlement. [Back]

[20]As Jacob (1981) indicates, to speak of the resolution of an ethnic conflict is very difficult, for such conflicts tend to have a recurring character. Even after a mutually satisfactory agreement is reached, ethnic conflicts may continue in a latent form; and when circumstances change, they may resurface again. [Back]