Survey in Serbia: Reason for joining NATO – security, reason against – bombing

Aleksandar Vučić, Jens Stoltenberg; Photo: NATO

BELGRADE – Citizens of Serbia who would vote for joining NATO at a potential referendum would do so because of the security reasons (58%), while the main reason for opposing membership is 1999. bombing of Serbia (47%). shows a survey conducted jointly by the Center for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID) and the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS).

A survey titled “Euro-Atlantic Integration and the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina” states that, if a referendum on Serbia’s accession to NATO was held this week, 68% of the population would oppose it, 11% would vote for, and 21% would not participate at a referendum at all.

Commenting on the results of the research at the presentation held at the Belgrade Media Center, Director of CEAS Jelena Milić said that 11 percent is a stable figure, which hasn’t dropped even after years of anti-campaign that is present in Serbian media.

She said that she was “very satisfied” that the citizen’s reason for joining NATO is security, adding that this should be promoted in public – that citizens see NATO as a source of security.

The most common way that Serbian citizens are informed about Serbia’s cooperation with NATO is via television (52%), followed by news portals (19%) and print media (7%), while 14% of citizens are not informed at all about this topic.

Milić stated that the most media did not, for example, inform the public on the recent statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that the Alliance regrets innocent civilian victims of bombing, which was reflected in the results of the survey – 53% of respondents did not hear at all about this statement, while 31% said that they did.

“Discourse ‘let’s forget the past and turn to the future’ is not adequate and does not produce results, but the reporting of the largest media should be more objective,” Milić said, adding that although a certain percentage of citizens indicate that they would refuse membership in NATO because they perceive it as “aggressive”, they mostly did not know where the Alliance is currently engaged in the world.

The survey also showed that the relative majority of the population (about 35%) is neutral about Serbia’s participation in military exercises with NATO, as well as in improving emergency response. The number of those who negatively assess participation in military exercises exceeds the number of those who evaluate it positively (28 to 25%), while in the case of emergency situations it is reversed (23 to 27%).

Asked to assess which country has a primacy in in quality of life and standards, citizens place the European Union (39%) as first, followed by USA (32%), Russia (15%), and China (7%). When it comes to military power, citizens placed Russia first (49%), followed by the US with 26% and China by 18%, which Milić assessed as “shocking” if the military budgets of these countries are compared.

Two thirds of respondents rated US support as important in international relations, 12% think it is not important, and 38% noted that recent relations between Serbia and the United States have improved. Russian support is considered important by 89% of the citizens, while 3% think the opposite.

The survey was conducted between 30th October and 6th November 2018, and it encompassed a representative sample of 1010 citizens.