Renéo Lukic et Jean-François Morel

In contrast to most of Eastern and Central European countries that underwent their post-communist transition peacefully, Croatia had to undergo its transition during wartime. The outbreak of the Serbo-Croatian war in Spring 1991 forced Croatia to build rapidly an army to protect its territory. However, at this time, Croatia was an emerging democracy and after the European Community recognised its independence on January 15, 1992, the parliamentary institutions were unable to exert their authority over the Croatian army (Hrvatska vojska, HV). The Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, and the political party he presided, the HDZ, dominated the HV by way of political penetration. Tudjman, who led Croatia to independence, benefited from a triple legitimacy (political, constitutional and charismatic) that allowed him to exert his power over the HV, much the same as the legitimacy Josip Broz-Tito enjoyed over the Yugoslav National Army in Communist Yugoslavia. The result is that the civil-military regime in Croatia after 1990 suffered from a democratic deficit. After the death of President Franjo Tudjman in December 1999 and the change of majority in the January-February 2000 elections, the new Croatian leadership, particularly President Stjepan Mesic, tried to establish democratic control over the armed forces. However, this aim clashed with the opposition of the Ministry of Defense and of numerous officers still committed to the HDZ. For these reasons, a democratic civil-military regime in Croatia is not yet a reality. However, Croatia has made some progress toward the establishment of a democratic civil-military regime. By trying to join some international organizations (NATO), or by being compelled to cooperate with others (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY), Croatia is now in the process of interiorizing the norms concerning the civilian and democratic control of the armed forces upon which these organizations are based. Being a member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), and wishing to join as soon as possible NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP), Croatia is obliged to move in this direction.

Anastassios Anastassiadis

This article addresses the sensitive question of Church-State relations in Greece. Recent studies have suggested that the Greek Church’s discourse was plainly incompatible with modern conceptions of liberal democracy. Populism and nationalism have been the two theoretical concepts used in relation with the Church. Discourse analysis based on public declarations of Church officials has been the main methodological tool. The Greek identity cards’ crisis of the nineties has been its testing ground. Through an analysis of this “crisis” this article intends to show that these methods can offer only very limited perspectives of understanding the process for two main reasons. First, they show little interest for sociological analysis and especially for the internal functioning of the Church. Second, discourses are one outcome of the actors’ strategies but have to be deciphered and not taken for granted. Analysts disregard one of the main presuppositions of semantics theory: discourses are produced within a specific socio-historical context and according to certain prefabricated schemes. This dual pattern of production allows for continuity as well as for change. Thus, this article also argues that a Church¹s conservative discourse may be closely related to the efforts of certain actors within this institution to renovate it. While refuting the “clash of civilizations” thesis, this article finally intends to suggest that the renewed interest for religion in general and orthodoxy in particular due to this thesis should be put to use by researchers in order to acquire new and more comprehensive socio-historical accounts of the Greek Church.

Myriam Désert

What are the roots of the informal sector and what effects does it have? Is it a blessing or a curse? Changes in post-Soviet Russia contribute new food for thought to a debate that had previously been nourished primarily by considerations on the situation in developing countries. In Russia can be observed processes of formalization - and “deformalization” – of the rules governing not only the practices of economic actors, but also in the rarified distribution of public services publics. The analysis of actual informal practices feeds thinking about the relations between economic and political changes: what impact do they have in setting up a market economy and the rule of law, and in the reconfiguration of both the economic and social arena? An investigation into the way Russian academic circles and social actors view the informal sector sheds light on the various behavioral determinant: reaction to the economic context, cultural roots, social beliefs, and so on. The case of Russia illustrates how the informal sector is not only a mode of action that circumvents legal guidelines, but also a mode of sociability that rejects anonymous social relations. It helps examine ways to reinject the social aspect into economics

A rather marginal theme in Eastern European studies before the end of communism, ethnic politics and minority policies in Central and South-East Europe have given birth to a very rich body of literature in the 1990s. Some analyses have been influenced by the so-called “transitology” paradigm; others have borrowed from ethnic conflict studies. In both cases, though, ethnocultural diversity has mostly been treated in a normative way and portrayed as an obstacle to democratization. As for ethnic parties, they have alternatively been presented as conducive to better political participation and integration for the minorities (in a multiculturalist perspective) or as a threat to state stability and to democracy. Regardless of these cleavages, most research on ethnic identifications and on their mobilization in politics has been grounded upon substantial definitions of ethnic “groups” and has reified differences between “generalist” and “ethnic” parties. The present comparison between the trajectory of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MFR, which represents the interests of the Turks and other Muslims in Bulgaria) and that of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (DAHR, representing the Hungarian population) departs from these approaches in two ways. First, it emphasizes the centrality of the sociology of collective action to understanding the politicization of ethnicity, while insisting on the need to trace the particular historical processes through which ethnicity has been constructed and politicized in every single case. Second, attention is brought to the role the social imaginary plays in shaping the strategies of social and political actors. To put it otherwise, we argue that identities are not exogenous to politicization processes; they are redefined, renegotiated and reappropriated as social actors invest the political field. “Ethnic parties” are in urgent need of deexoticization: Like most parties, they cannot elude the traditional dilemmas of political representation, in particular the need to be perceived as both responsive and accountable.

Post-Soviet Azerbaijan is the theater of an Islamic revival in the public sphere, a direct consequence of exiting from the empire and achieving independence, which involved the rehabilitation of religion, even the integration of Islam in a new national identitarian policy. Azerbaijan stands out from the rest of the former USSR by the fact that it is the most secularized Muslim country due to its early entrance into Russia’s bosom and the fact that it was long the ground for an ideological clash between the Shiite Persian Empires and the Sunni Ottoman Empire. It is through the convergence of internal factors – a preserved Islam despite the anti-religious Soviet policy – and external factors – the influence of neighboring countries, Turkey, Iran and the Arab world – that Azerbaijani Islam has been reconfigured since the end of the communist era. Eager to preserve the country’s secularity – the pride of the elites – and to ensure that the religious revival does not turn into a source of tension between the two essential components of its population (Shiites and Sunnis), the state has – with difficulty and sometimes a lack of subtlety – set up a religious policy that is far from receiving general approval. However, even if its handling of Islam is disputed, the Azerbaijan government controls the religious phenomenon through a policy that alternates between tolerance and repression.

Nicolas Revise

Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s Prime Minister, is a man of superlatives: the billionaire telecommunications tycoon is the only elected Thai head of government to have managed to get through an entire legislative term before being triumphantly reelected to a second mandate. His party, Thai Rak Thai (“Thais Love Thais”), rules with an overwhelming majority. Having rose to power in the wake of the 1997 Asian crisis and the promulgation of Thailand’s democratic Constitution the same year, Thaksin exemplifies the country’s recent history: he is heir to the authoritarian military regimes of the 1960-1970 and the product of a political and economic liberalization that brought businessmen transformed into professional politicians to power. But whether the “Thaksin system” – a blend of authoritarianism and liberalism – has put the brakes on twenty-five years of political democratization or if he embodies a “Thai way” to democracy, the Prime Minister cannot rule to please himself: he is faced with a dynamic, complex and organized civil society that has already proven in at least three different instances its striking talent for political mobilization.

Philippe Létrillart

Alongside the socialist society that Cuba is in the process of constructing, an unofficial “civil society” is actually taking shape, made up for the most part of dissident movements. The Cuban Catholic Church, the only non-Castrist institution in existence, is playing a crucial role in maintaining a certain balance between the two; the Church’s dual nature – universal in scope but locally implanted – has fostered a unique conception of its relation to Cuban society, all the more so as its ambition is above all to win back a position of influence and reaffirm its central status. This ambition is furthered by two means, both of which are basically handled by secular representatives, in particular by groups associated with Dagoberto Valdès. On one hand there is a pragmatic approach based on social work and the activities of training centers; on the other an effort to rethink the role of the Church in relation to society and envisage the possibility of a new form of citizenship founded on Catholic values. The charitable initiatives are acceptable to the regime; but the same does not hold as far as the resolve to become active social participants is concerned, a move seen as a form of defense of conservative, backward-looking options. In addition relations between the Church and dissident movements are strained. This ambiguous situation might well render the role of Catholics in the post-Castrist transition more uncertain, even though the Church’s expertise will be required for national reconciliation to take place.