Serbians Trust Russia More, But Still Want to Join the EU – Survey

Posted: January 3, 2015 in Society and Culture

SOURCE: http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/survey-serbians-trust-russia-more-but-still-want-to-join-the-eu_369979.html

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Serbians trust Russia more, but still want to join the EU

2/1/2015

By our dpa-correspondent

Belgrade (dpa) – People in Serbia like Russia more than the European Union, but most want to join the EU because of perceived benefits, a study published Friday has indicated.

The survey showed 52 per cent of Serbians had a positive view of Russia and only 32 per cent of the EU. At the same time, 12 per cent saw the United States as positive and NATO only 6 per cent.

Both the EU and Russia are seen as more positive today than in the previous survey 11 months ago: then 46 per cent said they liked Russia and 27 per cent rated the EU favourably.

The position of Serbians on EU membership has remained little changed – if the vote on membership were to take place now, 54 per cent would back it compared to around 25 per cent against.

Though more Serbians say they like Russia more than the EU, 70 per cent of them would prefer their child to live in the EU and only 23 per cent chose Russia.

The fact that most of those polled believe their life would improve with EU membership may explain the conflicting statements.

Between 63 and 70 per cent expect EU membership to cut unemployment and corruption, improve the economic situation as well as the education, health and justice systems and develop infrastructure.

The average Serbian however displayed little knowledge regarding their country‘s position in relation to EU membership: only 24 per cent knew that Serbia opened membership talks a year ago.

The ambiguous position toward Russia and the West strengthened during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, when many in Serbia felt betrayed by the West, seeing it siding with their foes.

After the conflicts ended, trials of Serbian leaders at the UN war crimes tribunal and wrangling over Serbia‘s runaway province Kosovo continued to fuel mistrust toward the West.

The view of Russia as a traditional ally was meanwhile strengthened by Moscow‘s diplomatic support of Serbia in issues such as the secession of Kosovo.

The survey was carried out by Ipsos Strategic Marketing for the Beta news agency and with the support of the EU.

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