News 14 Feb 17

Most Serbians Unwilling to Fight for Kosovo: Survey

Three-quarters of Serbian citizens do not want to wage war to win Kosovo back, suggested a survey which also indicated that the majority support continued dialogue with Pristina.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

Sonja Stojanovic Gajic (centre) and Milos Popovic (left) present the survey. Photo: Media Centre Belgrade.

The survey published on Tuesday by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy suggests that 74 per cent of Serbian citizens do not want to wage war to ensure that Kosovo is a part of Serbia.

“The majority of Serbian citizens don’t want armed conflict, not regarding Kosovo, nor in the region, and the majority expect no armed conflict in the next five years,” said the director of the Centre, Sonja Stojanovic Gajic.

The survey was carried out with a sample of 1,403 people from December 26 to January 14, just before political tensions between Belgrade and Pristina rose significantly when Serbia tried to send a train decorated with nationalist slogans to northern Kosovo, sparking an exchange of bitter recriminations between the two capitals.

The survey also revealed that 65 per cent of respondents had never been in Kosovo and 80 per cent had never met a Kosovo Albanian.

Stojanovic Gajic said however that younger people were more likely to agree that military action was justified.

“The ‘yes’ answer is more frequent from those who were not in the war in the 1990s. So people who are younger than 40, who most likely were not in the war, are frequently in the group of those who justify armed action,” she said.

The survey suggested that the majority of people in Serbia support the continuation of the EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue aimed at normalising relations, with only nine per cent of respondents against.

Most respondents said they support agreements with Pristina as long as they do not lead to the recognition of Kosovo, although the majority believe that Pristina is making more gains from the dialogue.

Only eight per cent said they were in favour of the independence of Kosovo, and 10 per cent said Kosovo should be partitioned.

A quarter of respondents said they though Kosovo would be independent in the future, while a fifth said they believed that Kosovo will be part of Serbia or be partitioned between Albania and Serbia.

More than half of the respondents said meanwhile that they believe that the country’s national security is under threat.

“The majority see corruption, crime and the behaviour of politicians and political parties as the main internal threats and thinks it’s necessary to strengthen the economy of Serbia,” said Milos Popovic, a researcher at the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy.

Popoviuc said that half of the respondents identified major global powers – the US, EU, NATO and Russia, as well as terrorism – as the key external threats.

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