“There is little doubt that the process of appropriating the possessions of the pre-existing population created a deeply felt resentment between those who lost their homes and their land and those who profited from the conquest. This hatred was transmitted from father to son over many generations and it became a constant factor in the relationship between the Serbs and the Albanians. Inherent to this feeling remained a strong desire to retake the lost areas if an opportunity appeared”. (Velebit, 1999)
Primoridalist theory of ethnic conflict is one way of looking at Balkan history. But, it does not hold true for in all instances of conflict. For example, the primodialist approach to ethnic conflict states that ethno-national bond is much stronger than patriotic bond. The basis for the formation of ethno-national bonds are never fully based on fact and evidence, but rather on some vague but convincing feeling of kinship within a group of people. In other words, the concept of ethno-nationality appeals to the notion of common genetic inheritance alongside other tangible aspects such as language, culture, religion, etc. But, it is evident from the aforementioned case that factors such as geography and material wealth are as powerful in instigating aggression as are ethno-national bonds. For a major period of human history material wealth was synonymous with fertile lands abundant with various food sources (Velebit, 1999). On a biological basis, there are no major differences in the genetic makeup of Serbs and Albanians, or for that matter among other groups in the Balkans. Yet, the ancestors of present day Balkans were engaged in much attrition warfare. The notion of nationalism, which gained currency relatively recently in human history, fails to account for the intra-Balkan hostilities. This suggests that reason, in this particular case the possession of fertile lands, proved to be a strong motivation for initiating aggression, the legacy of which is still witnessed in the psyche of the people in this region.
But, it would be too simplistic to presume that reason had always prevailed over emotion in the history of Balkans. For as long as recorded history exists, dating back to pre-Christian times, religious belief of some sort existed among the primitive communities across the world. The Balkan region was no exception. Religion and irrationality go hand in hand. A classic example of its exhibition happened with the arrival of Ottoman Turks toward the end of the century. Unlike other contenders, the Ottoman Turks were more powerful, militarily better organized and renowned for shrewd tactics. This is a turning point in the history of the Balkans. The subsequent Ottoman rule was marked by religious tension between the Mohammedan rulers and their Christian subjects.
“This is particularly true in the first two hundred years of Turkish rule over south-eastern Europe, when the natural economy prevailed and the central power of the sultans was still respected. After the gradual introduction of the money economy and the appearance of greedy and rapacious local pashas, the fate of the Christians deteriorated considerably and became almost unbearable. It led to religious conversions and numerous uprisings, which in the 17th and 18th centuries became a regular feature in the Ottoman Empire”. (Almond, 1998)
Similarly, constructivist and instrumentalist approaches to studying ethnic conflict do not provide a consistent picture. The case of twentieth century Germany provides a suitable illustration of such theoretical inadequacies. Since the end of the Cold War and the subsequent unification of Germany, there has been persistent discussion, analysis and debate in the academic and media circles over the perceived differences, between the structural aspects of Germany’s political and economic institutions before and after the unification. In this context, the term ‘Bonn Republic’ is applied to represent “the ‘old’ Federal Republic of Germany’s (FRG) political system, with its emphasis on political stability, consensus politics, high welfare expenditure and a multilateral foreign and defence policy”. In sharp contrast, what is termed the new ‘Berlin Republic’, post October 1990, “is seen to refer to a more fluid polity, in which traditional patterns of domestic politics and policy are called into question, and whose foreign policy is ‘normalising’ in terms of pursuing clearly-defined national interests” (Tewes, 1998).