Contemporary Southeastern Europe
Conclusion: The Politics of Numbers – Censuses in the Post-Yugoslav States
This conclusion poses a number of questions related to policy issues and the censuses in the post-Yugoslav states. It is argued that censuses are always more than just a technical counting exercise. Census discussions in Western Europe tend to focus on regional funding, infrastructure support and long-term policy planning, and can be as contested and heated as questions over identity, religion and mother tongue in the post-Yugoslav states. However, identity-related questions in an area in which identity is still in flux and in which fundamental demographic changes have taken place recently, prevent any focus on more policy-oriented discussions. In their EU integration process, all of the post-Yugoslav countries will have to concentrate on issues such as economic development, sustainable infrastructure planning, budgeting within the strict rules of the most recent EU agreements and hence policy discussions should be at the forefront of the debates about the results of the censuses. Instead, discussions over who is counted and how remain of key importance in all countries (even those that have joined the EU), and demonstrate unconsolidated nation-building projects.