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News 05 Mar 13

Most Serbs Acknowledge Independent Kosovo, Poll

A new survey suggests that a considerable majority of Serbian citizens, however reluctantly, accept that Kosovo is now an independent country.

BIRN Belgrade

A new poll shows that about 63 per cent of Serbian citizens accept that Kosovo is in practice an independent state - and that Serbia can only fight now to secure the best position for the Serbs still in Kosovo.

About one third of citizens, 32 per cent, say Kosovo is not independent while 5 per cent do not have an answer.

The survey of 1,003 people was conducted by B92 TV and by the agency Ipsos Strategic Marketing.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Belgrade opposes. At the same time, normalisation of relations with Kosovo is the EU's main precondition for Serbia as it continues to pursue EU membership.

Serbia obtained EU candidate status in March 2012 and is hoping to obtain a start date for accession talks in June.

While most Serbs acccept the status quo in Kosovo, the survey shows that most Serbians would still rather see Kosovo as part of Serbia, than Serbia as a part of the EU. 

Given a choice, some 65 per cent of those surveyed said the priority for Serbia was Kosovo, while the EU was a priority for 28 per cent of people and 7 per cent were indecisive.

EU-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia started in March 2011 under Edita Tahiri from Kosovo and Borislav Stefanovic from Serbia.

The dialogue was raised to a higher level in October 2012, when the EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, brought together the Kosovo and Serbian prime ministers, Hashim Tachi and Ivica Dacic.

Since October, Ashton, Tachi and Dacic have met six times. Since 2011, the two sides have reached agreements on border management as well as deals on Kosovo’s representation at regional meetings, university diplomas and trade.

There is considerable disagreement on the extent to which the deals have been implemented.

According to the survey, 61 per cent of citizens believe Dacic did a good job in representing Serbian interests during the talks, while 21 per cent believed Dacic's performance was poor.

While mostly praising the role of Dacic in the talks, a large majority of Serbs were critical of the EU's role in the dialogue.

About 78 per cent of those surveyed said the EU was not neutral during the talks, while 16 per cent think it was.

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