Citizens on Kosovo, Russia, EU: Confused between their hearts and wallets
The citizens of Serbia have no idea what could be the ideal solution for the Kosovo problem or the realistic outcome of the negotiations – the results of the public opinion survey conducted by Crta at the end of February and the beginning of March show. Their hearts are turned towards Russia and their wallets pointed to the West, meaning there are no major changes in public opinion relating to the perception of Serbia’s foreign policy and the Kosovo issue.
EUROPEAN UNION OR RUSSIA
Citizens are torn about the strategic direction of Serbia. The opinion of 44 percent of citizens is that Serbia should turn more towards the West, and 43 percent of them are in favor of stronger ties with Russia. Nevertheless, the policy of sitting on more chairs than one seems to be the most acceptable for the majority of citizens, among whom there are only 18 percent who think that Serbia should completely opt for one side or the other.
Russia is perceived as the most important political (34 percent) and security (42 percent) partner. In contrast, the European Union is perceived as the most important economic partner (44 points).
Attitudes are also sharply divided regarding the referendum on joining the EU. 44 percent of citizens would vote for membership, and 42 percent against. An obstacle to wider support for Serbia’s EU membership may be the disillusionment of some citizens with the duration of the EU integration process – almost half of the citizens (43 percent) now think that Serbia will never become a member of the EU.
ATTITUDES TOWARDS KOSOVO
The majority of citizens do not have enough information and do not know how the Kosovo problem could be solved.
When asked what would be the ideal solution for Kosovo, 38 percent of citizens do not have an answer. The same percentage as those who do not know what the actual outcome of the current negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina could be.
While one third of citizens (34 percent) believe that it would be ideal for Kosovo to remain within Serbia, with a greater or lesser degree of autonomy, every fifth person (20 percent) believes that the best solution would be the recognition of Kosovo’s independence (8 percent), division of territory (7 percent) or accepting the Franco-German proposal (5 percent).
On the other hand, 35 percent of citizens see the recognition of Kosovo (22 percent), division of territory (4 percent), acceptance of the Franco-German plan (9 percent), as a solution that is not necessarily ideal but realistic, while 14 percent of citizens believe that Kosovo as part of Serbia is a realistic solution.
Almost one third of citizens (30 percent) openly say that they do not know what the Franco-German plan entails, and only 7 percent of them believe that it is a step towards the final agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. When the content of the proposal is explained to citizens, the majority do not consider it acceptable. Only 26 percent of citizens would accept the plan, and 20 percent of them say they would accept the independence of Kosovo in exchange for securing a better position for the Serbs. Citizens who consider the current proposal acceptable, almost exclusively see the recognition of Kosovo, the division of the territory or the acceptance of the Franco-German plan as realistic, and somewhat less often as the ideal solution to the Kosovo issue.
The survey was conducted by telephone (CATI – computer-assisted telephone survey), on a representative sample (1011 respondents) of adult citizens of the Republic of Serbia (without Kosovo), in the period from February 25 to March 3, 2023. The average duration of the questionnaire was 16 minutes.
You can read the full research here.