Belgrade Centre for Security Policy conducted a survey on the perception of Serbian citizens with regard to national security threats and responses. The findings show that the majority of citizens believe that the country’s national security is under threat. Further, two-thirds see corruption and crime, and the behaviour of politicians as the main internal threats, whereas major powers and terrorism are key external threats for a half of respondents.
However, focusing on the regional level, the majority of respondents believe that Serbia has more enemies than friends in the region. Yet, the majority of citizens is not afraid of the new war in the Balkans in the next five years, but the proportion of those who expect the war has increased compared to the previous research.
Nevertheless, it is encouraging that in the case of co-ethnics suffering in an armed conflict in a neighbouring country, only 6 per cent of respondents would be ready to join hands with them, while a large majority would either do nothing or be ready to accept refugees.
Despite the incident with the train and increased tensions, 74 per cent of the respondents do not believe that an armed conflict is justified in order to preserve Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia. However, a fact that more than 80 per cent does not have relatives or friends in Kosovo and that only 7% were in Kosovo after 1999, tells how deeply our societies are divided. Moreover, almost two-thirds of the respondents have never been to Kosovo.
Next, if look at the perception of the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue, three-quarters are in favour of it. It is interesting to see that one-third of the respondents believe that the dialogue should continue in order not to transfer disputes to new generations, regardless of the EU pressure. Unsurprisingly, citizens are predominantly against a formal recognition of Kosovo.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that there is 20 per cent of those who think that Kosovo and Kosovo Albanians have more gains from a dialogue than Serbia and Kosovo Serbs, while the similar research done in Kosovo shows that 46 per cent believe that Serbia is benefiting more than Kosovo. Yet, more promising finding is a significant proportion of those who believe that both Kosovo and Serbia benefit (27 per cent), even though that number decreased since 2013.
This article has been produced with the support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy. The content of this article and the opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the portal European Western Balkans and in no way reflect the views and opinions of the Balkan Trust for Democracy nor the German Marshall Fund of the United States.