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Dissertation Abstract

Idil P. Izmirli

"Autonomy or Integration? The Dynamics and Security Implications of Crimean Tatar Return in Post-Soviet Ukraine." Ph.D. Dissertation, The Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, Arlington, VA, 2008.

The eruption of highly contagious conflicts in post-Soviet Eurasia necessitates urgency in monitoring events in terms of regional and international security as well as for conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, differs from the rest of the Ukraine, because it is the only administrative subdivision of the Ukraine where ethnic Russians are a majority. At present, due to territorial disputes and simmering ethnic hostilities between the three central actors, Russians, Russified Ukrainians, and the returning [Islamic] Crimean Tatars, the potential for spiraling conflict in Crimea has all the incentives for ethno-political action. In addition to antecedent conditions, such as centuries-long enemy-image misperceptions and historical grievances, the risk factors for conflict include the religious, linguistic, and cultural cleavages that are manipulated by the dominant Russophile political elite.

To capture the complexity of the Crimean conflict, this research investigates the post-return dynamics of the Crimean Tatars and explores how Crimean Tatar perceptions and emotions impact their collective conflict strategies against the background of relative deprivation. Second, it probes into the notion of nonviolence among the Crimean Tatars. Third, it examines the role of Islam in the political, social, and cultural lives of the Crimean Tatars. The overall aim of this research is to identify the areas of tension and assessment of risks that precede early warning signs in sufficient time so that proactive, preventive action remains possible before this conflict erupts into violence and threatens the security in Ukraine as well as in post-Soviet Eurasia.

Posted: February 2009.

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