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News 28 Jul 16

Study Shows Young Serbs Turning Against EU

Research conducted by the Institute for European Affairs shows that while most Serbs still want to join the EU, a majority of the young would prefer to see Serbia team up with Russia.

Milivoje Pantovic
 Presentation of the research. Photo: Media Centar Belgrade

Serbia after Brexit - where citizens sees Serbia,” a study presented on Thursday, showed that while about 55 per cent of Serbians support integration into the European Union, most people under the age of 29 are against this and look to Russia.

Naim Leo Besiri, from the Belgrade-based Institute for European Affairs, said young people had been showing increased resistance to the European idea for some time.

“Serbia's negotiation team with the EU must explain to citizens what the idea of the EU is,"  Besiri said.

He noted that many people in Serbia, especially the young, know there is more democracy and economic freedom in the EU but still prefer “Russia’s model of society.

“After Brexit, 51 per cent of the young think Serbia should stop EU integration, while 60 per cent of them think Crimea should be recognised as a part of Russia," Tibor Moldvai, from the Institute for European Affairs said, referring to Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

He said that according to the same research, people in Serbia still see Croatia as their biggest enemy, followed by the US and Albania.

“Membership in NATO is also still controversial since 82 per cent of the population is against it and younger people are even more against it. That is odd, since they rarely remember the bombing in the 1999,” he said.

Serbia was bombed in 1999 by NATO alliance countries during the war in Kosovo after which the former province of Serbia declared independence in 2008.

Professor Srbijanka Turajlic, a fomer deputy minister of education, who spoke at the presentation, said that the young in Serbia learn just one part of history, which is one reason why their outlook is so conservative.

“Young people have no knowledge of Serbia’s negative role in the Yugoslavia conflicts. They need to be more informed what happened during the wars in former Yugoslavia,” Turajlic said.

Professor and former MP Zarko Korac said that the poll highlighted long-standing contradictions in Serbian society.

“In Serbia, as in Russia, there is a concept of the collective [identity] which is in confrontation with liberal, Western concepts,” Korac noted.



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