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East European Politics
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Census politics and ethnicity in the Western Balkans
Gëzim Visoka & Elvin Gjevori
a a a

Centre for International Studies , Dublin City University , Dublin , Ireland Published online: 30 Jul 2013.

To cite this article: East European Politics (2013): Census politics and ethnicity in the Western Balkans, East European Politics, DOI: 10.1080/21599165.2013.819349 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21599165.2013.819349

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East European Politics, 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21599165.2013.819349

Census politics and ethnicity in the Western Balkans
Ge ¨ zim Visoka∗ and Elvin Gjevori
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Centre for International Studies, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland (Received 19 June 2012; final version received 9 April 2013) This article investigates how census politics in the Western Balkans take the form of a political device to entrench or transform ethnic demographics, which can have implications for cooperation and reciprocity between neighbouring states. We argue that the contingency of census politics spring from a trinomial interaction between actors claiming to represent the dominant nationalising state, national minority, and external homeland. Building on this triangulation, this article explores the interaction between the dominance of the nationalising states, the influence of the national minority, and the interest/interference of the external homeland in the 2011 censuses in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. The article illustrates how census-taking is a highly politicised process in a region with hostile political dynamics, which revealed the unstable and contested nature of citizenship, ethnic belonging, weak civic identity, and fragile regional relations. Keywords: Western Balkans; population politics; census; ethnic reciprocity

Introduction The census, as an essential aspect of ethnic politics, represents one of the methods available to ethnic groups to (re)assert legitimacy and supremacy. The explicit connection between the census and ethnic identity is a relatively new development, but one that has proved to be powerful. The emergence of ethnic categories and identification around an ethnie, which is bounded together by a common language, culture, and difference to other outsider groups, has expanded the usage and functions of census (Hutchinson and Smith 1996). By making people choose what ethnicity they are, what their first language is, and so on, new categories are formed on which nationalist struggles are based and legitimised. In this vein, the census presents itself as an objective process for measuring subjective identities and is transformed into “technologies of truth productions”, in spite of all the identity construction and imposition dimensions it carries (Urla 1993, 831). Once a group is counted as separate – as somehow objectively distinguishable from another – then other groups feel left out, unaccounted for, and unrepresented as a result. This is evident in the Western Balkans with the fragility and politicisation of census process, whereby the formulation of census and subsequent results have been used for reclaiming political ownership of society, as well as defining the dynamics of integration and disintegration from the host state. So, the census has the power to construct and solidify identities and belonging, making it an important arena in which identity and ethnic battles are fought, often with dramatic repercussions. Drawing on this understanding, the article investigates how census politics in the Western Balkans takes the form of a political device to entrench or transform ethnic demographics with implications for cooperation and reciprocity between neighbours. We look at the dynamics within states and between states in the region. We contend that census-based population politics

Corresponding author. Email: gezim.visoka2@mail.dcu.ie

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springs from a trinomial relationship between nationalising state, national minority, and external homeland. We conceive nationalising states as those that display tendencies to control the social process in favour of a dominant ethnic group, the national minorities as those ethnic groups that constitute a demographic minority in a state, and the external homeland as those states that have members of their ethnic community living in another state. Building on this triangulation, which is based on the work of Brubaker (1996), we explore the interaction between the dominance of the nationalising state, the influence of the national minority, and the interest/interference of the external homeland in the 2011 censuses in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina is not included in the analysis, as it has delayed the census process until 2013. All the countries, except Albania, are either new, post-Yugoslav, or post-conflict and often both. Although Albania does not share these characteristics, it has been included in the analysis because we are interested in the use of the census as a tool in the politics of reciprocity. Since Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro are an important element of these countries’ census politics, Albania has to be included in the analysis in order to construct a proper understanding of census politics as a tool of reciprocity in regional politics. Lastly, we acknowledge that there are within-case variations among each country under examination evident with various forms of contestations invoked by different ethnic groups with different constitutional privileges, societal position within the host state, and support of their kin state. In exploring census processes and their interplay with ethnicity and contestation across the region, we rely on an analytical narrative approach (Bal 2004; Elliott 2005; Herman and Vervaeck 2005). Using such an approach, this article analyses regional newspaper reports, national legal frameworks, and national/international census-evaluation reports to identify the broad patterns of interaction between the nationalising state, national minority, and the external homeland. Indeed, the analytical narrative approach enables us to explore various invocations and uses of the census process, such as the ethno-centric interpretations and contestations of census organisation, legal provisions, and the subsequent census results. We identify three broad patterns related to the 2011 census in Western Balkans. The first pattern is evident with the census in Serbia, which reveals that under the condition of a dominant nationalising state with a non-influential minority and non-interfering external homeland, there is a high likelihood of a census with marginal contestation. The second pattern can be divided into two main strands: the first evident in the Macedonian census shows that under the condition of a non-dominant nationalising state with an active and influential minority and non-interfering external homeland, there is high likelihood that the census is extensively contested and possibly boycotted. This pattern becomes even more dominant when the external homeland is interested in the census process such as the case of Kosovo, where the census was partially boycotted and extensively contested by the Serb minority. Of the countries under analysis, Montenegro is a puzzling case whereby the presence of a dominant nationalising state, alongside an influential and large minority, and interfering external homeland has not affected the contestation of the census and its successful implementation. Drawing from an analysis of the cases, this article argues that the 2011 censuses in the Western Balkans have proven to be a highly politicised process, which revealed the unstable and contested nature of citizenship, ethnic belonging, and a weak civic identity. Across the region, the census design has been criticised by minorities and their kin states, interpreting the census process as an attempt to assimilate, marginalise, and reduce the presence and distinct ethnic attributes of minority communities. The logic of ethnic reciprocity combined with the tactic of “tit for tat” were evident with the boycotting of the census and attempts from majority and minority communities to give the census political significance. Overall, the 2011 censuses in the Western Balkans have not contributed to the normalisation of regional relations, but instead have left certain entrenched ethnic cleavages pending and unresolved, which is likely to be a source of future contestation.

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This article is organised as follows. First, a theoretical discussion of the multifaceted nature of census is provided to illustrate the contested instrumentalisation of the census in contemporary states. Then, the analytical framework of analysis is elaborated to examine census politics and regional dynamics within the Western Balkans. The empirical section provides an analytical narrative analysis of the 2011 censuses in the Western Balkans, looking at the interplay between ethnic and demographic conditions, census regulatory frameworks, the invocation of legitimising and delegitimising discourses, and the influence of kin states. The article concludes with a number of observations on the different manifestations of the trinomial relationship between the nationalising state, ethnic minorities, and kin states, as well as their implications for regional stability and cooperation. Census politics and the ethnic struggle for recognition and reciprocation The primary purpose of census is to count people, households, understand economic situation, measure demographic movements, ageing of population, and many other aspects, to be able to have reliable data to project and plan long-term policies and arrange social – economic affairs. Across various social science disciplines and among different research programmes, censuses have been usually studied under three perspectives: (a) comparative demographic analysis within a state and between regions; (b) identity construction, solidification, and institutionalisation; and (c) economic analysis, population policies, and public policy-making. Comparative studies on census tend to focus on demographic and geographical aspects of population changes, by exploring and comparing various statistical trends and social process that shape population development (Coulter and Guralnick 1959; Anderson and Fienberg 2001; Cook 2004; Hennell 2004). Identity-related studies on census examine mainly the construction and formulation of census forms and their implications for the identity and social belonging of groups differentiated based on gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, and economic and political status (Silitoe and White 1992; Kertzer and Arel 2004; Christopher 2006; Loveman 2007). The third dimension of census studies looks at the instrumental utilisation of census data for policy-making and population planning, with particular emphasis on economic implications of the demographic composition of society (Berk 1990; Raymer, Abel, and Smith 2007; McDonald and Peters 2011; Wilson 2012). However, what remains under-researched in all of these approaches is the use of census in post-conflict and multi-ethnic societies as a political device to shape and balance the interests of different ethnic groups within states which share hostile pasts and unsettled relations. Furthermore, most census studies tend to focus on one country, or compare demographic developments among countries, but they do not analyse how the census politics of one country affects the census politics of a neighbouring country. Hence, this study aims to make a modest contribution in this regard by enriching and expanding the theoretical understanding and empirical observations of census-taking as a device of reciprocity among neighbouring states with ethnic and border grievances. In polities where the ability to influence political representation, local governance, budgetary policies, education policies, and cultural policies is dependent on a group’s share of the total population, census-taking becomes inextricably connected to population politics. The census is thus transformed from an administrative – statistical undertaking to a political process and is an extension of the battle for domination and survival. In multi-ethnic societies, group entitlements and citizenship often spring from statistics produced by the census. If a group reaches the “artificial” numerical threshold needed to receive preferential treatment, then it becomes eligible for a number of special protections. Accordingly, “since census politics is expressed in numbers, the pursuit of entitlement translates into a contest for achieving the ‘right’ numbers” (Kertzer and Arel 2004, 30). This is one of the reasons elites from the majority fight to remain the majority,

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and those from the minority fight to increase their number in order to pass the thresholds necessary to gain special entitlements. So the numbers game, both for emotional and practical reasons, pushes groups to fight to maintain high numbers and to consider it politically unacceptable to fall below the minimal threshold required for entitlements. Censuses do not count random characteristics; they count those characteristics that are important for the population and its governing authorities. In a modern polity, the census “attempts to situate individuals in specific social categories and political jurisdictions” by dividing them in such a way as to make society comprehensible (Skerry 2000, 10). A census draws borders and builds categories, which do more than mirror society; they in fact enable its social construction. The way people construct national self-perceptions, their understandings of wealth or poverty, strength or weakness, and so on springs in part from census statistics which is why “political judgments are implicit in the choice of what to measure, how to measure it, how often to measure it, and how to present and interpret the results” (Alonso and Starr 1987, 3). So, while the census is seen as a method to measure social reality, it can simultaneously constitute or maintain divisions and perpetuate or reframe power relations, which can become a powerful tool in ethnic politics. This is why the process of demographic data-gathering, which in established democracies is to a certain degree a common fact of life, in emerging democracies with a multi-ethnic population is a politicised act with wide-ranging repercussions.

Theoretical framework For the reasons explored above, the analysis of census politics in the Western Balkans requires two levels of analysis: domestic and regional. The multi-ethnic constitution of societies in the Western Balkans involves both domestic and transnational actors who interact at various levels and through different means. So, for this purpose, it is essential to approach census politics by exploring three key interacting actors: host state, national minorities, and external homeland. As Brubaker (1996, 58) rightly argues “national minorities, nationalizing states, and external homelands are bound together in a single, interdependent relational nexus”. Brubaker (1996, 68) further states that:
a central aspect of the triangular relational nexus is reciprocal inter-field monitoring: actors in each field closely and continuously monitor relations and actions in each of the other two fields. This process of continuous reciprocal monitoring should not be conceived of in passive terms, as a registering or transcription of goings-on in other fields. Rather, the monitoring involves selective attention, interpretation, and representation.

Brubaker’s theoretical framework is an appropriate approach for studying the interaction between these three actors interested in one another’s census politics. Such an approach enables us to get a full picture of the interaction of various interests which produce the different census contestations we observe. Furthermore, such a framework enables us to formulate a number of hypotheses about these countries’ census politics and then analyse whether they hold true empirically. The trinomial relationship we borrow from Brubaker enables us to simultaneously provide as full a picture of the evolving events and not get bogged down in the minute details of each country. It is our contention that such a “relational nexus” is especially evident in the censuses politics of 2011 in the Western Balkans. The 2011 censuses in the Western Balkans provide an important case study to examine the trinomial “relational nexus” in which the elites of the above-mentioned countries interchangeably play the role of hegemonic elite and ethnic minority in the nationalising state and in the external homeland. Similar contestations of census have occurred earlier in the first post-Soviet censuses

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and more recently in South Sudan and Kenya (Arel 2002; AFP 2010; Daily Nation 2012). In this regard, we argue that it is useful to analyse the dominance of the nationalising state, the influence of the national minority, and the interference of the external homeland as a nexus that influences the extent to which a census is contested in order to understand the dynamics of census politics in the Western Balkans. Before exploring these variations, it is important to define and clarify the meaning of the core concepts invoked here. First of all, the types of states invoked such as dominant nationalising state, external homeland, and national minority are similar to Brubaker’s, but with certain modifications. First, Brubaker (1996) defines external national homelands as those states that take actions to monitor the conditions of their ethno-national kin in the other states to protect and promote their interests abroad (58). In our context, we invoke a similar conception to “external homeland” which refers to those states that claim that part of their co-nationals are resident in another state, and as such they deserve from their external homeland political, economic, and cultural attention, communication, and cooperation. We also add that the level at which the external homeland engages in providing a voice and claiming protection for their co-nationals depends on two main factors: the leverage it has over the host state, and its internal stability in relation to its own national minorities. “Dominant nationalising state” signifies those states that have tendencies to homogenise and control the identity, political and social dynamics in favour of the dominant ethnic group. Brubaker defines nationalising states as those that have tendencies to dominate the linguistic, cultural, demographic, economic, and political aspects of the state (1996, 57). We specify further that the tendency for dominance is influenced by three factors: the absence of external interference and conditionality, the absence of institutional safeguards for minority communities, and demographic dominance. Lastly, the basic criteria for demarking the influence of national minorities consists of their demographic position, their institutional safeguards and representation, their socio-economic condition and demands, the level of assimilation and integration in the host state, and their relationship with the kin state. Brubaker defined national minorities as those groups that claim to have different ethno-national identity from the dominant ethno-cultural nation, demand state recognition of their identity, and assert political and cultural rights (1996, 60). Accordingly, we define as “influential national minorities” those groups that compose at least 5% of the general population; possess certain constitutional and institutional ethnic-based privileges; express demands for separate and ethnic-based rights; demand the recognition of their identity in the public sphere, and in the provision of state services, as well as enjoying strong and active connections and coordination with the kin state. Concerning the outcome of a census, we identify four potential outcomes in a continuum between marginal and full contestation of census results as illustrated by Figure 1. A marginally contested census is initiated, prepared, and completed within the legal framework and most ethnic groups either have no substantial complaints or have their technical complaints addressed by the authorities. A partially contested census is initiated, prepared, and completed within the legal framework, but the contestation is politicised by at least one influential minority. An extensively contested census is initiated, prepared, and completed within the legal framework but boycotted by an influential minority. Finally, a fully contested census signifies the non-initiation or the postponement of a census after its initiation. Before proceeding with our analysis, it is essential to provide a short background on the political and ethno-national dynamics of the region.

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Figure 1. Spectrum of contestation.

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Historical background Over the past two decades, the countries of the Western Balkans have experienced ethnic wars and protracted destabilisation, and continue to suffer from fragmented relations. Today, Bosnia– Herzegovina and Kosovo are still under moderate international administration and continue to experience ethnic division. Serbia is facing political and socio-economic problems, trying to challenge Kosovo’s international recognition, and is also struggling with transitional justice and EU integration. Macedonia faces turbulent debates on ethnic identity, as local grievances increase concerning the implementation of the 2001 Ohrid Accords and the “name dispute” with Greece has slowed the country’s Euro-Atlantic perspective. Meanwhile, Albania, surrounded by Albanians living outside its borders and hosting a vociferous Greek minority, finds itself “protecting” the rights of its co-nationals and facing demands from Greece for better treatment and more rights for the Greek minority. Lastly, in the aftermath of its 2006 independence, Montenegro is also experiencing substantial changes concerning political orientation and the politics of identity. While the region is gradually normalising, fragile relations continue to obstruct cooperation, economic prosperity, and European integration. Although the “Balkan issue” and its ethnic grievances came to the fore of European public opinion in the 1990s, they had always been present. Under communist Yugoslavia and Albania ethnic problems were muted under the slogans of “fraternity-unity” and international proletarianism (Silber and Little 1997). Once the totalitarian structures were removed and Yugoslavia dissolved, the issues of ethnic belonging, geographic placement, and group size became important tools of inter-ethnic conflict/bargaining in the setting of new borders, minority rights, and representation schemes. Measuring group size, identifying ethnicity, mapping ethnic geography, and then allocating rights again became one of the most important and delicate processes in the Balkans in general and Western Balkans in particular. As evident with the region’s recent past, large population displacement and the stalled return of refugees and internally displaced people are often reasons why a census is delayed and held at a convenient time for either dominant group or minority groups. The power-sharing nature of post-conflict and divided societies makes censuses an important measure for arranging the political representation of minorities in institutions and consequently signifies the political influence of each ethnic group and their prospects for co-existence and integration. The censuses taken under communism were either unreliable or did not count the sensitive issues. In Albania, for example, religion was not counted because the country was officially atheist. However, countries with territorial ambitions over Albania had often used religions as a proxy for the presence of other national ethnicities in the country (Vickers 2000). Thereby, when democracy returned, counting religious affiliation was a process filled with “dangers” that reawakened memories of the past. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the people who had been identified as Yugoslav in past censuses had to choose a new identity; would they be Serb because they lived in Serbia or would they be Croat, for example, because their father was so? These new ethnic questions coupled with the memory of past injustices, claims of unfair border drawings, and folklore immortalising ethnic-based massacres between Croats, Serbs, and Kosovo Albanians reawakened old fears and old prejudices, and brought the importance of census-taking to the fore. This also significantly shaped the nature of citizenship in the region, evident with the regulation of criteria for double citizenship, “ethnizenship”, and the linkage of citizenry with territoriality, ethnic loyalties, and cross-ethnic participation and repˇ ilovic ´ 2012). resentation (Z In the Western Balkans, census politics is a sensitive and politically charged process affected by socio-economic underdevelopment and ethnic politics. The sensitivity of this issue is taken by the EU Commission as a matter to be addressed and resolved as part of the enlargement

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conditionality (2012). The successor countries of former Yugoslavia and those that were freed from communist rule were free for the first time to voice dissent, have relations with neighbouring countries, and create associations, which among others, could be based on ethnic and religious affiliation (Cohen and Lampe 2011). The Western Balkans elites of Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia share a vision of their state as belonging to their hegemonic ethnic group while simultaneously “hosting” national minorities from neighbouring states that are often viewed as potentially disloyal and whose protection from the kin state is viewed as an intervention ´ 2012). This vision of their states, and the common view of the in domestic affairs (Stjepanovic presence of minorities from non-trusted neighbouring states that claim to stand up for the minority’s rights, connects these countries and makes them particularly attentive towards each other’s census politics. Analysis of 2011 population censuses in the Western Balkans To empirically observe the theoretical variations we presented above, we undertake an analysis of the 2011 censuses in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. We focus our analysis on three types of actors: nationalising elites, minority elites, and external homeland elites. We aim to explain why the level of contestation varies among censuses. In order to undertake such an analysis, we have scrutinised primary legal and policy documents on census preparation and implementation to understand the distinct political and legal framework of each census. Such analysis also enables us to identify and understand the core issues that underline the contestation of the census between various ethnic groups in each country. Parallel to the analysis of official documents, we have undertaken a broad survey of public statements and reactions by respective governments, minority groups, kin states, and independent advocacy groups evident in the national and regional printed and internet-based news providers. The analysis of these media sources covered the events leading to the 2011 censuses, their implementation, and the events and reactions following the censuses. The combination of these sources has enabled us to capture the official state discourse, public reaction, and the multiple contestations by minority groups that have followed the census process in the countries under examination. As illustrated in Table 1 and in the proceeding detailed examination of each country, the 2011 census process in the Western Balkans has experienced a variety of contestations contingent to the contextual circumstances of each place. The realm of contestation and politicisation of census has varied from the stalemates on the self-declaration of national identity attributes, disagreements on the census forms, language and other criterions, timing of census and the background of the enumerators, and most importantly extensive interference from the external homelands through governmental authorities, religious communities, and other interest groups. These interrelated aspects have significantly shifted the focus of census from being a periodical technocratic and bureaucratic enumeration to a political device for defining ethnic boundaries and a highly political issue. Partially contested census in Albania The 2011 census in Albania is an important case to examine the first pattern, which holds that under the condition of a dominant nationalising state with a non-influential minority and a non-interfering external homeland there is high likelihood of having a marginally contested census. This was the case with the non-Greek minorities living in Albania, especially Montenegrins and Macedonians. However, concerning the Greek minority, the third variant is more applicable, which holds that under the condition of a non-dominant nationalising state with an active and influential minority and an interfering external homeland, there is high likelihood that the census is extensively contested. The Greek minority in Albania, although numerically weak,

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2011 Census results and contested issues in the Western Balkans. Status Partially contested Extensively contested Fully contested Marginally contested Census results 2.8 million 1.7 million N/A 0.6 million Contested issues Self-declaration of ethnicity and religion Fines on false self-declaration Variation of contestation among ethnic groups Boycotting by Serbs of north of Kosovo Explicit interference from Serbia Census eligibility criteria Timing of the census Ethnic-based enumerators Eligibility criteria for census inclusion Demarcation of ethnic differences between Montenegrins and Serbs Interference from Bosniak and Croatian external homeland Census campaign similar to elections Boycotting by Albanians and Bosniaks Inclusion of Kosovo in the census at the initial stage Census eligibility criteria Undertaking of census in Serbian language

Table 1. Country Albania Kosovo

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Macedonia Montenegro

Serbia

Marginally contested

7.4 million

has proven to be politically influential, especially through the support of the Greek external homeland, which possesses political and economic capabilities to exercise conditionality over Albania as part of EU integration process. Because of these two different dynamics, the census in Albania can be considered as partially contested. The last census in Albania, which counted ethnic minorities, was conducted by the communist regime in 1989. Earlier, during the 1930s, the religious groups in Albania were counted under Ahmet Zogu’s Monarchy. The 2001 census, the first in post-communist Albania, did not collect any data on the ethnic and religious composition of the country. Consequently, the 2011 census, which was going to enumerate religious and ethnic affiliation through self-declaration, was highly anticipated because it would provide a reasonably definitive answer as to the size of various minorities and the religious breakdown of the country. The self-declaration clause sparked major controversy because both the majority and minority groups were concerned that there would be an artificial inflation or deflation of other ethnic minorities, which would then produce artificial political demands from them in the future. The preliminary 2011 census results show that the population in Albania has decreased by 7.7% over the past decade and for the first time the majority of the people live in urban areas. The census was based on the 2001 Law No. 8669 “On the General Registration of Populations and Dwellings” and Law No. 10442 approved in July 2011, as well as on some amendments to Law No. 8669. The amendments to the Census Law were both the result of previous debates and the fuel for further controversy. The amendments were intended to address the concerns expressed by a number of nationalist Albanian groups (Balkanweb 2011). The changes stipulate that census data will not affect the voters’ national register, civil status register, or any other administrative register. Simply put, if people self-declared themselves to be Greek, Macedonian, or German, this declaration would not be reflected in the civil status register, and presumably the official ethnic makeup of the country would not change. Furthermore, anybody found to declare a nationality that did not correspond to the one he/she had in the civil register would be found guilty of false declaration and be fined 700 euros. Lastly, in March 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled that

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changes to the 2009 Law No. 10129 “On Civil Status in Albania” were unconstitutional and that nationality can neither be changed by a court decision nor be included in the birth certificate. This decision put the constitutionality of the question on ethnicity in the census in limbo. The changes to the law and the legal battles that followed show the idiosyncrasy of the tasks faced by the census. The census was meant to count how many people were in the country, the number of minorities, and the size of religious groups, yet the data would not be reflected in official state registers. The law allowed people to self-declare and then stipulated they could be found guilty of false self-declaration. Such contradictory regulatory provisions are the result of census politics. Minorities had a desire to increase their numbers to demand more rights and protections while the majority had a stake in keeping those numbers low. In Albania, this relationship is complicated further by the fact that Albania is a weak state and economy (thereby non-dominant), and its largest minority has Greece as an external homeland, which is interested in its minority in Albania and is simultaneously one of Albania’s largest trade partners, the place where over 500,000 Albanian immigrants work, and the self-proclaimed gatekeeper of Albania’s EU integration. Consequently, the discourse around the census and the legislative decisions reflect this internal tension. Albania is worried about an artificial increase in the number of its Greek minority, while the Greek minority, bolstered by an interested and engaged external homeland, had the comfort to increase its demands and pressure Albanian authorities to succumb to them (Balkan Insight 2011a). Greece was the last EU member state to ratify Albania’s Association and Stabilisation Agreement with the EU after the Albanian government agreed to allow the Greek government to construct a number of official cemeteries to Greek soldiers fallen in the territory of Albania during First World War and Second World War and after the signing of a treaty delineating the maritime border between these two countries. Albanian nationalist groups considered both agreements the result of blackmailing by the Greek government, which according to them was holding the country’s EU progress hostage and demanded these two agreements in return for its ratification. The Albanian Constitutional Court later declared the treaty on the maritime border unconstitutional. In March 2011, for example, 52 Albanian intellectuals (including two former presidents) sent an open letter to the previous President Bamir Topi, protesting the inclusion of questions on religion and ethnicity in the upcoming census. They claimed such inclusions would be “dangerous and not bring any added benefits to the country” (Balkanweb 2011). They went on to say that “registration on ethnic and religious bases would incite a negative race among different groups and self-declaration in present conditions is openly hostile to our identity” (Balkanweb 2011). These intellectuals allude to a race among ethnicities to increase their numbers through unfair methods but do not point fingers to particular groups. Other associations, however, like the Red and Black Alliance, stated clearly their main concern that “some artificial Greek minority is going to ask for special status, maybe for a percentage in parliament or government” (Balkan Insight 2011b). The underlying fear was that the Greek government would lure ethnic Albanians through pensions and travel benefits to declare themselves Greek, artificially increase the numbers of the Greek minority, and then increase demands for special protection. This discourse of the danger of self-declaration and the duplicitous plans of the richer Greek government to transform Albanians into Greeks gave rise to the Census Law changes we mentioned earlier. These changes, while not reassuring the nationalist groups, managed to irritate minorities. The leader of OMONIA, the largest organisation representing the Greek minority in Albania, stated that “we don’t recognize this process and neither will we recognize its outcome” (SETimes 2011a). Consequently, he called for a boycott of the process. The Greek government was not a passive observer on the issue, whereby following the census, the Greek foreign minister stated that:
the foreign ministry closely monitored all developments surrounding the census in Albania . . . The decision of representatives from the main minority groups, including the Greek Ethnic Minority, to

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call their members to abstain in protest, on the grounds that respect of the right for free self-determination is not guaranteed, demonstrates the serious lack of trust minorities have towards the Albanian state. (World Council of Hellenes Abroad 2011)

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The story of the Albanian census then is that of a non-dominant country (because of its economic inferiority towards Greece) trying to balance the demands of the Albanian majority and the Greek minority supported by Greece as an active external homeland. As the Albanian government took steps to address some of the demands of the Albanian majority, the Greek minority extensively contested the census and then boycotted it with the support of the Greek government. On the other hand, the Montenegrin and the Macedonian minority, while contesting similar issues as the Greek minority, did not boycott the census because they were neither actively supported by their external homelands nor influential minorities. Both Macedonia and Montenegro were supportive of their minorities, but were not overtly assertive. One of the reasons for this is the large Albanian presence in Macedonia and the much larger Albanian presence in Montenegro in comparison with the Montenegrin presence in Albania. Hence it can be asserted that the Greek minority in Albania, through the support of its external homeland, was able to extensively contest the census and call for its boycott. While the other two minorities, absent strong support from their external homelands, only marginally contested the census.

Extensively contested census in Kosovo The 2011 census in Kosovo represents a typical case under the second pattern, which reveals that under the condition of a non-dominant nationalising state with an active and influential minority and an interfering external homeland, there is a high likelihood the census would be extensively contested and boycotted. In Kosovo, Serbs living in the North of Kosovo largely boycotted the census. The influence of Serbia over the Kosovo Serbs has proven more successful than the institutional safeguards for minorities and the decentralisation framework. The 2011 census was the first to be held since 1981 and the 2010 Census Law provided the legal framework for this process. The 2011 census recognised the resident population as including all persons who had lived permanently in Kosovo for 12 months before the census and who intended to remain in Kosovo for over a year afterwards, as well recognising those who were temporarily absent from Kosovo and were abroad for less than 12 months (Kosovo Assembly 2010, Art. 3.1.1). The law regulated what information was to be collected including ethnicity, religion, nationality, and mother tongue, though not as compulsory questions (Kosovo Assembly 2010, Art. 2). In addition, the law implicitly recognised the category of refugees as eligible for registration, which is not explicitly the case with other countries in the region. This seems to be quite unusual among the census practices, but due to contextual circumstances in Kosovo, this additional category was included as well. The main highlights of the 2011 census in Kosovo were the boycott by the Serb population and interference from various Serb actors. There were also controversies and contestation over the categorisation of Kosovo’s population and the census procedure. In March 2011, the Kosovo Academy of Science and Arts (ASHAK) publicly declared that they were against the census, claiming that the conception of “resident population” and the time-bounded eligibility criteria excluded Kosovo citizens who were abroad for over 12 months, as well as the entire Kosovar diaspora who were living abroad temporarily, but possessed Kosovo citizenship, and had families, property, and investments in Kosovo (Balkan Insight 2011c). The inclusion of Kosovo’s diaspora into a supplementary list meant that they would not be included in the census results, thus providing an inconsistent picture of the demographic situation in Kosovo. ASHAK went further by complaining about the advantageous conditions the Serb community would receive through their

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entitlement to be registered in the refugee camps in Serbia and Montenegro, whereas the same is not being applied to Kosovar refugees and diaspora. Responding to some of the concerns raised by ASHAK, Rifat Blaku, Head of the Central Census Commission, announced that: “When the Kosovo government has a stronger budget, more staff and more cooperation with all countries worldwide, then we can have a census of the diaspora” (Balkan Insight 2011c). Indeed, both the incorporation of refugees and the sidelining of diaspora were done for political reasons, as it was also the reaction of ASHAK for political motives. The rationale against the inclusion was guided by the Eurostat principles that the same people cannot be registered twice in two different countries, whereby the country of residence should be the referral place of registration. Notwithstanding these polemics, the main challenge of 2011 census was the boycott of census process by Serb living in the north of Kosovo. However, the Serb participation in the south of Kosovo was estimated to be around 70%, which indicates their willingness to accept Kosovo institutions and integrate into Kosovo society (M-Magazine 2011). The evaluation report of 2011 census in Kosovo compiled by the Statistical Office of Kosovo (SOK) reveals that the Kosovo authorities, together with the international community, tried to convince Serb communities living in the three northern municipalities of Kosovo (Leposavic ¸ , Zvecan, and Zubin Potok) to participate in the census (SOK 2011, 36). Similar efforts have been taken by the Independent Liberal Party (SLS), which is the only Serb faction part of Kosovo institutions. Slobodan Petrovic, Kosovo’s ethnic Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government, called on Serbs living in Kosovo to take part in the census, as it would be in their interest. Petrovic said, “We haven’t had a proper census for 30 years, so the implementation of this process [census] is not only an obligation that we have towards the EU but an obligation we have to ourselves” (Balkan Insight 2011a). However, SOK reports that the extensive influence of the discouraging statements of the Serb leadership and their calls to participate in the separate Serbian census led the majority of Serb population in Kosovo to boycott the census (2011, 36). Rada Trajkovic, one of the Kosovo Serb leaders and an MP in the Kosovo Assembly, argued against the census with the claim that “Kosovo has not yet been internationally recognized and it has no right to organize processes of this kind” (Balkan Insight 2011a). Adding to this discouraging discourse, Bogdanovic, Minister for Kosovo in the Serbian government, considered the census as an attempt by Kosovo’s institutions to “make the world believe that fewer Serbs live in Kosovo than is the case”, revealing further that 250,000 Serbs had been displaced from Kosovo since the 1990s. In the middle of the census process, Bogdanovic applauded the Serb boycott and declared that:
We have been insisting that the census in the territory of Kosovo should be conducted by the United Nations, rather than going about it in such a way to literally partition the territory of the Province, all the while accusing Serbia for it. (Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija 2011)

´ , president of the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, argued that Dragan Velic Kosovo could not hold the census for three reasons (Media Center 2011). He first argued that Kosovo is not a recognised state and as such does not have legitimacy and legality to organise population registration. Second, he claimed that the census is a political process, which does not provide sufficient institutional protection and transparency to ensure the data are valid. He further maintained that the pretext that the census would help economic planning does not ´ revealed that reveal the political connotations hidden behind the census. Related to this, Velic the sole purpose of the Serb community in Kosovo is to have sufficient numbers to create munici´ argued that the 2010 Census Law was pal units as a way to protect their vital interests. Third, Velic inconvenient for Serb community, as it does not provide the opportunity for 220,000 Serb refu´ gees to be counted in the census, as they have been out of Kosovo for more than 12 months. Velic argued that, to a certain extent, the Serb boycott reciprocates the Kosovo Albanian boycotting of

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the 1991 census, drawing parallels of the political implications of censuses in two different time periods in a similar context. The 2011 census, because of the supervisory role of the international presence in Kosovo combined with the conditionality of the European Commission, has provided a liberal framework for all social groups residing in Kosovo to freely declare their ethnic, religious, and linguistic identity. However, the remaining contestation between Kosovo and Serbia over the north of Kosovo, refugee returns, and the resistance of the Serb population and their embedded leadership and parallel structures have been the driving forces behind the boycotting of the census and the politicisation of the process and its results. Until these political contestations are resolved through political dialogue and mutual recognition, census politics will remain highly problematic and a destructive device with spillover effects for other social and political spheres of life in Kosovo.

Fully contested census in Macedonia The 2011 fully contested census in Macedonia is a clear case that illustrates the second pattern of a non-dominant nationalising state with an active and influential minority and non-interfering external homeland. The high percentage of the Albanian minority and their well-established institutional powers, alongside extensive contestation of identity across different levels of society made the census a highly fragile process, for which only a postponement served as a temporary exist strategy. Macedonia has a substantial Albanian minority (25.2%) and a number of other minorities such as Turk, Serb, Roma, and others. As observed by Friedman (2001, 2): “Questions of ethnic identity, citizenship, language rights, and the interrelationships of the concepts of language, religion, and ‘nationality’ were hotly contested in Macedonia. The census was therefore a clearly political event”. The last Yugoslav census took place in April 1991 and Macedonia had become an independent country before the data were released, so the need for a new census was immanent. The majority of Albanians in Macedonia and elsewhere in Yugoslavia, fearing under-representation, had boycotted that census. The numbers game was so important that the sides could not agree to hold a census in 1994, and the first independent census of Macedonia was undertaken under international supervision to avoid failure. The process went on through mutual mistrust and the results showed that Albanians comprised 22.9% of the population; a large proportion but still far short of the numbers provided by local Albanians (Friedman 2001, 2). Before the next census was undertaken, the ethnic conflict of 2001 and the subsequent Ohrid Agreement made the politics of numbers even more important. The Ohrid Agreement, which was incorporated into the Macedonian Constitution, stipulated that the language of ethnic groups whose numbers exceeded 20% of the total population would become a national language. Accordingly, state funding would be available for higher education in that language, and the ethnic group could use their language at the local administration level (Skaric 2004). In the 2002 census, Albanians were strongly committed to register because so many of the rights they demanded were tied to gaining a specific numerical threshold. In this census, Albanians comprised 25.2% of the population, guaranteeing them all the rights of the Ohrid Agreement. Nevertheless, neither side was happy with the way the census was undertaken. The Macedonian side claimed that many Kosovars who had immigrated to Macedonia during the 1980s and after the Kosovo war should not be included since they were not citizens of Macedonia, while the Albanian side believed that many Albanians had not been counted. The Albanian government is often missing in this picture as it tried not to overtly interfere in Macedonian domestic affairs. The capacity of Albanian authorities to talk to local Albanian leaders in Macedonia and influence their decisions cannot be ignored, but due to Albania’s generally weak position, it uses

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this power to restrain local Albanians in order to be seen under a positive light by the EU and the USA. The 2011 census brought all the problems of the previous censuses to the surface. First, who was going to count whom? Albanians wanted Albanian census-takers in their zones, as did the Turks. The Macedonians, on the other hand, were worried that local census-takers would artificially increase the numbers of their respective populations. When the Albanian and Turkish members of the Macedonian Census Commission resigned, they said that “this concept reflected the distrust felt towards Albanians, Turks and others”, while the Turkish representative stated that “we cannot accept not having a single Turkish [census official] in municipalities containing 46,000 Turks” (Balkan Insight 2011d). Another issue was the timing of the census. Because the Albanian population, especially males, work as immigrants in Western Europe for most of the year, they identified the summer as the best time to conduct the census. The Association of Albanian NGOs in Macedonia stated that “we call on all immigrants to come home and use their right to register because this is a historic moment” (Balkan Insight 2011e). Similarly, the sides could not agree on whom to count. The Macedonian government claimed that citizens who had not been living in the country for the last 12 months should not be accounted, and because Albanians were claiming the opposite, the head of the Census Commission stated: “big census forgery is being prepared” (Balkan Insight 2011f). Lastly, many Albanians still do not have regular documentation from the Macedonian government and had photocopies of their ID, which was not acceptable according to the Macedonian government, while Albanians claimed the opposite. These problems, however, had been present in previous censuses, but both of them went forward and were not interrupted as abruptly as this one. What was different this time? Let us begin with what was the same. The role of the Albanian government has not changed substantially over time; it has called for calm, cooperation, and more rights for the Albanian population within the framework of Macedonia’s constitution. The memory of the 2001 conflict, the Ohrid Agreement, and Kosovo’s independence are situated between the 2002 census and the postponed 2011 census. These events have created the impression that the tide of history is on the Albanian side and that they should keep the pressure up to get what they want. As a result, the Albanian population of Macedonia has become more determined to achieve their goals. At the same time, the Macedonian side is tangled in a protracted fight with Greece over its name, which has delayed its NATO accession. Furthermore, a large number of Macedonians are applying for and receiving Bulgarian passports, as Bulgaria is a new EU member state. Suddenly, a Bulgarian minority has emerged in Macedonia. These factors have strengthened the hand of the Albanians and have weakened that of the Macedonians. So, the story of the Macedonian census is that of an increasingly non-influential ethnic majority, which is confronted with an increasingly active and dominant minority with constitutional rights and institutional representation, which has contested the census to the point of bringing about its failure, although it has a non-interfering external homeland. Marginally contested census in Montenegro The 2011 census in Montenegro does not fit to any of the patterns explored so far. In Montenegro, the census was hailed as a success, as it was only marginally contested by Montenegrin and Serb communities over the fuzzy lines of ethnic, religious, and linguistic differences. It is indeed puzzling how the census succeeded despite the presence of an increasingly nationalising state, alongside an influential and large minority, and an interfering external homeland. We argue that the primary explanatory factor for this occurrence is the ethnic and religious similarity between Montenegrins and Serbs with blurred identity distinctions and a common past.

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The 2011 census in Montenegro was regulated by the 2005 Law on Statistics and Statistical System, the longest and most detailed in the region, which paradoxically does not provide any information on the categories of eligible subjects, thus leaving room for ambiguous interpretations. However, in the census forms eligible subjects to be counted were citizens of Montenegro and foreign citizens, foreign citizens and persons without citizenship who have residence (permanent or temporary) in Montenegro, and no matter whether they are at the moment of the Census in Montenegro or abroad (SOM 2011, 17). The 2011 census results in Montenegro showed that the country has 625,266 inhabitants (SOM 2011, 6). The census data showed that while 37% of the country’s inhabitants said they speak Montenegrin, about 44% speak Serbian. The census in Montenegro was important as it was the first official census since its consensual secession from Serbia in 2006, as well as the first comprehensive survey of the demographic situation and identity affiliations within the country following a series of actions undertaken by Montenegrin government to differentiate their identity attributes from those of Serbs (Morrison 2009). To demarcate their identity, Montenegrin was declared as the official language of Montenegro in October 2007, which undertook slight modifications from the Serbian language. Although the linguistic changes do not affect the dialectical expression of the population within the country, it has played a symbolic and discursive role in the census process. When compared with the results of the 2003 census, the percentage of Montenegrins who speak Serbian fell by 20 points and those speaking Montenegrin rose by 14 percentage points (Tu ¨ rbedar 2011). The census in Montenegro has been marginally contested despite the controversial reactions from some ethnic communities living there (Durr and Bianchini 2011). Despite the overall uncontroversial nature of the 2011 census in Montenegro, the census process and the following results have served as a pretext for ethnic political parties to expand or demarcate their ethnic boundaries. For instance, the Croat National Council held a campaign to remind their ethnic constituency that they should declare themselves as Croats, list Roman Catholicism as their faith, and show that their language is Croatian. Similarly, the Bosniak community advocated among its constituency to declare their Bosniak identity and Islam as their religion. Despite the fact that the Albanian minority in Montenegro continues to suffer in practice from ethnic discrimination and non-recognition of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic identity, they have played an important role in supporting the 2006 independence and helped to build the state of Montenegro (Boga and Wolff 2011). The main confrontation occurred between Montenegrins and Serbs, and their attempts to demarcate their slim differences. The Serb community constitutes around 30% of the population in Montenegro, and it was categorically against the 2006 independence, as well as against Montenegro’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence. The pre-census campaign in Montenegro was similar to an electoral process, where Montenegrins and Serbs campaigned to influence their constituency to preserve their ethnic identity (Milic 2011). It seems that this campaign led to a 2% increase in the number of Montenegrins and a drop of more than 3% for Serbs. However, as an unintended consequence, around 30,000 people have not declared their ethnic identity, thus escaping this ethnic entrapping (Boskovic 2011). The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church called on his compatriots in Montenegro to use the census to declare as “Serbs of Orthodox religion freely without fear” (Blic 2011). Serb authorities in Belgrade justified the church’s interference as an attempt to prevent Montenegro’s pro-independence factions from pressurising Serbs to convert into Montenegrins as a way to strengthen the recently independent country (Blic 2011). While the census results are reassuring that Montenegro’s 2006 consensual secession from Serbia has received the support of the majority of population who declared themselves as Montenegrins, the high number of Serbs population living in Montenegro leaves room for future potential institutional and political confrontation between these two dominant groups, as

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people’s national identity often coincides with their political preferences. As evidence suggests, from 1991 to 2003 the number of Serbs in Montenegro has risen consistently from 9.7% to 32%. The potential for future ethnic confrontation between Montenegrins and Serbs is further increased by the fact that the smaller ethnic minorities – Bosniaks, Albanians, and Croats – have all favoured Montenegro’s independence, which narrowed the negotiating position of pro-Serbian opposition parties such as the Socialist People’s Party (Milosevic and Mesthos 2011). There is an indication that the Serbian government will demand that Serbs in Montenegro be recognised as constituent nationality, something which was attempted in the past few years. As Milena Milosevic and George Mesthos (2011) rightly argue “this interference in the internal affairs of Montenegro has undermined the latter’s attempt to forge a civic and individual, rather than communitarian, concept of itself as a state”. Marginally contested census in Serbia The 2011 census in Serbia can be explained by using the first pattern, which reveals that under the condition of a dominant nationalising state with a non-influential minority and a non-interfering external homeland, there is high likelihood for a marginally contested census. Despite the calls of Albanian and Bosniak representatives in Serbia to boycott the census, their demographic marginality and the lack of support from their kin states reduced the effects of the boycott, making the census in Serbia only marginally contested. The census showed that Serbia’s population is 7.4 million, confirming a population decrease of about 300,000 people over the last decade (SETimes 2011b). The legal framework for the 2011 census recognised a broad scope of entities as eligible subjects to be enumerated. Article 2 of the Law on Census considered as eligible entities “the citizens of the Republic of Serbia, foreign citizens and stateless persons residing in the Republic of Serbia, whether being in the Republic of Serbia or abroad at the moment of the census” (Parliament of Serbia 2011, Art. 1.1). The scope of this regulatory framework includes “refugees and internally displaced persons . . . in the total number of population according to the definition of the permanent place of residence” (SOS 2011, 10). Among many questions, the census also asked questions about citizenship, ethnicity, mother tongue, and religion. During the preparations Serbia attempted to include Kosovo in its census; however, a strong rebuttal by the international community and Kosovo’s government resulted in Kosovo’s exclusion from the enumeration process (B92 2011). The census in Serbia is marked by an extensive boycott by the Albanian and Bosniak minorities on the basis that census forms were discriminatory towards minorities, as they do not respect their languages (SETimes 2011b). During the 2011 census, only 8079 people were enumerated in Medvegje/Medveda, 18,985 in Bujanoc/Bujanovac, and a much smaller number of ˇ evo; all areas dominated by the Albanian population (SOS people – 3263 – in Prevesho/Pres ˇ ak and Bosniak National Councils called on the Bosniak minority not to par2011, 18). The Sandz ticipate in the census as a response to the “longstanding discrimination and state terror against Bosniaks” and a response to the fear that census results will be manipulated, which will further marginalise Bosniak community and deny their rights (SETimes 2011c). The Bosniak National Council Presidency stated that Bosniaks would participate in the census “if the Council officials were given the right to participate in all the bodies for the implementation and control of the census, as well as if new forms be released in Bosnian language and Latin alphabet” (B92 2011). Similarly, Albanian political leaders in Southern Serbia advocated boycotting the census, arguing that it would not reflect the true demographic situation of the Albanian community. They argued that the census based on resident population will be disadvantageous to the Albanian

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community, who have been exiled from their home communities as a result of the recent conflict of 2001, economic backwardness, and political discrimination. Participation in the 2011 census presented an existentialist threat to the Albanian community, whereby decreasing population numbers could change the socio-political composition of their community (Ejupi 2011). The Albanian Mayor of Bujanoc/Bujanovac, Shaip Kamberi, declared that “many of our people are asylum seekers in European countries, as here they are discriminated when it comes to employment; many temporarily left for Kosovo” (Ejupi 2011), arguing that they will not be listed even though they are an Albanian national minority in Serbia. The 2011 census in Serbia signifies the attempt of the host state to marginally accommodate the demands of Albanian and Bosniak minorities and to present the census as a depoliticised technical process. The complex relationship between the Serb majority and the Albanian and Bosniak minority, characterised by small demographic composition, non-privileged political status (as opposed to Kosovo and Bosnia), and socio-economic underdevelopment, reduced their overall influence over the census process and outcomes. In addition, the absence of support from Kosovo, Bosnia, and Albania has resulted in disempowering the claims of these minority communities. The combination of these two sets of factors resulted in a marginally contested census process in Serbia. Conclusions The data and analysis presented in this article have shown that in the post-conflict and post-communist Western Balkans, where ethnic grievances, state recognition struggles, aggressive kin states, and divisive ethnic rhetoric are widespread, census and population politics are a highly sensitive issue, which can be quickly transformed into a political battle with implications for recognition and conditionality between bordering neighbours. In particular, the article has illustrated that the trinomial relation between the dominant nationalising state, national minority communities, and the external homelands has varied across different countries in Western Balkans in the context of 2011 census. The census was partially contested in Albania, extensively contested in Kosovo, fully contested in Macedonia, and marginally contested in Montenegro and in Serbia. Across all the cases, the dominant nationalising states have shown tendencies to create the conditions that the census reflects would either preserve the demographic supremacy of the majority population or increase it through various political and technocratic measures related to the registration eligibility criteria, entitlements, and technical obstacles. While all the countries have claimed to conduct the census based on best international practices, there has been a wide variation across cases in terms of the eligibility criteria and the extent of support and recognition of minority rights. For example, the registration eligibility criteria incorporated a wide range of population groups in Serbia, the regulation in Montenegro was more ambiguous and unclear, whereas in Kosovo it was more restricted and conditioned by the international community to accommodate the interests of the Serb minority. While the size of national minority has shaped the census politics and the extent of contestation and boycott in some countries, the involvement, interference, and pressure from the external homeland through governmental and non-governmental actors has been critical in shaping the census process in other countries. In the case of Albania, the political strength of the Greek minority and the political pressure posed by the Greece as the external homeland has significantly shaped the census process and outcomes, despite the small size of Greek population in Albania. Across the countries examined in this article, the minority communities that were in small size have boycotted the census due to the political inconvenience and the repercussions that the new demographic data would bring to their communities. This is the case with Greeks in Albania, and Bosniaks and Albanians in Serbia. In other cases, where the size of some national

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minorities was above 5%, there was a higher tendency for blocking the census as it was in the case of Macedonia, or contest and jeopardise extensively the entire process, evident with the case of Kosovo. This illustrates the insecurity that the census would bring to these ethnic minority groups and the convenience to contest and boycott the census. The roles of external homelands have varied, depending on the contextual circumstances, bilateral relations, and the political strength they would have compared to their neighbour states. Albania has been fairly passive when it came to the census and the political position of Albanians in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. The internal problems in Albania and its commitment to resonate constructive regional relations in its path for EU integration have significantly shaped Albania’s non-interfering policy. In the case of Montenegro, the attitude and response of Serb and Croatian actors have encouraged their compatriots to preserve their ethnic and religious identity and resist Montenegro’s efforts to increase the number of the majority population. On the other hand, faced with multiple internal problems, Kosovo was unable to play a significant role in relation to the non-cooperation of Albanians in Macedonia and Serbia. The census in Kosovo was boycotted largely because of the multiple disagreements between Kosovo and Serbia, such as Serbia’s non-recognition of Kosovo, large number of displaced persons, minority protection in Kosovo, and the strategic interest of Serbs not to accept Kosovo’s new demographic reality. Indeed, Serbia’s strong control over the Serb population in the north of Kosovo has significantly conditioned their collective boycott. In the rest of Kosovo, other minority groups, including Serbs, have not challenged the census process and results due to their acceptance of Kosovo independence, strong institutional safeguards, and guaranties provided by the international community. What can be asserted from these cross-case inferences is that the recent conflicts in the Western Balkans and the fragile relations between these nations have been the two underlying factors that have shaped the extent to which the census process was supported, contested, or boycotted. In each case, we can observe that contestation derived from different actors and by invoking different justifications. For example, in Albania, the issues of contestation were the selfdeclaration of ethnicity and religion, and fines for false self-declaration. In Kosovo, the contested issues were the political usage of census for reshuffling political developments in the country, Serb boycotting of census as it was ran by Kosovo institutions, and other refugee-related reasons. In Macedonia, the census failed due to disagreement over the timing of the census, ethnic representation of census-takers, and the eligibility criteria. In Montenegro, the issues of contestation were the engineering of ethnic demarcation and differentiation, interference from Bosniak and Croat external homelands, and politicisation of census campaign similar to elections. In Serbia, the issues of contestation were the census eligibility criteria, organisation of census in Serbian language, and boycotting by Albanian and Bosniak minorities. Across all five countries, a common pattern is that local political, religious, cultural, and civil society actors who act as minority representatives were actively contesting and boycotting the census processes. The external homelands have tried to keep a more invisible and diplomatic approach, while it remains clear that they have provided strategic guidance in each case. However, what has remained unchanged across all the cases is that the census processes are highly contested in the Western Balkans; they have the potential to reconfigure the demographic composition of the population, downgrade or upgrade the political position and the institutional arrangements, and shape the regional relations. As long as the ability to be represented in institutions and enjoy special privileges depend on statistics produced by censuses, the latter will become increasingly politicised. Such politicisation will influence regional relations as external homelands will be pressured to stand up for their ethnic kin beyond the border, or to “return the favour” by doing the same for their minorities. This incrementally poisonous dynamic of negative reciprocation will increase inter-state distrust, lower inter-ethnic relations, and make

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regional cooperation shallow and fragmented. The prospects for depoliticised censuses in Western Balkans are very much conditional and bounded to the resolution of remaining post-conflict issues of cross-neighbour minority recognition and internal stabilisation of ethnic relations. The outstanding issues become even more salient and are potentially transformed by processes such as EU integration. Notes on contributors
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Ge ¨ zim Visoka is a PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations at Dublin City University in Ireland. He has published extensively on Kosovo, post-conflict peacebuilding, and ethnicity and minority issues. Elvin Gjevori is a PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations at Dublin City University in Ireland. His research focuses on institutionalisation in emerging democracies focusing on Southeastern Europe.

References
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