A new survey suggests that the majority of Serbian citizens are in favour of the EU-mediated talks between Belgrade and Pristina to normalise relations.
Maja ZivanovicBIRNBelgrade, 02.11.2018.
A survey published on Friday by Serbian opinion research company Demostat suggested that the majority of Serbians support the ongoing talks between Belgrade and Pristina.
“This is perhaps the first time that Serbs are for the talks and for the solving of the problem, as four out of five [79 per cent] respondents say,” Demostat said.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia does not recognise it. The two countries are involved in an EU-facilitated dialogue aimed at reaching a final solution which would eventually enable both sides to become members of the European bloc.
In recent weeks, Serbian and Kosovo officials have mentioned the possibility of what they have called ‘border corrections’ as part of a final deal, which has been interpreted as a possible territory swap.
Four out of five respondents to the survey said the term ‘border delimitation’ was clear to them.
However, 61 per cent of respondents said they don’t want Serbia’s southern Presevo Valley area, where large numbers of ethnic Albanians live, to be exchanged for the Serb-dominated north of Kosovo. Sixteen per cent backed the idea.
The Demostat survey also showed that three-quarters of respondents, 76 per cent, said they don’t agree Serbia should recognise Kosovo’s independence in exchange for EU membership.
When asked if they agree that Kosovo could become an independent state in exchange for Bosnia’s mainly Serb entity, Republika Srpska, becoming part of Serbia, which has been advocated by its leader Milorad Dodik, 66 per cent said they disagreed.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic invited all Serbian citizens in June 2017 to join what he described as “an internal dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija”, after which several public discussions were organised. Most opposition politicians ignored the events.
According to the survey, 41 per cent of people think that nothing was achieved during Vucic’s ‘internal dialogue’, while 19 per cent said they don’t know what the outcome was. Two-fifths of respondents said they thought that some goals had been achieved.
Asked about the most important Serbian interests in the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, almost half the respondents, 46 per cent, went for “full normalisation of relations confirmed by legally binding agreement”.
A quarter of respondents, 27 per cent, said that most important is “the protection and improvement of Serbia’s economic interests in Kosovo”, while 21 per cent said they didn’t know.
Asked if possible solutions could come out of the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, 27 per cent disagreed and said that the current situation continue and that the problem will remain ‘frozen’.
But more than half of the respondents, 54 per cent, said they saw the possibility of solutions.
Nineteen per cent said they didn’t know.
The survey was conducted among 1,200 Serbian citizens between October 8 and 17.