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    • We have presented results of public opinion poll: What do Serbian citizens think about their own security and the security of Serbia?

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    • Date: 09 June 2011
      On the 9th of June at the Media Centre, BCSP presented its in-depth research about the perceptions of Serbian citizens on both their own individual security and national security, as well as how Serbian citizens perceive the quality of work of their security sector institutions.

      Within this research, citizens were also asked whether EU and NATO integration might improve the security of Serbia. The public opinion research “What do Serbian citizens think about their own security and the security of Serbia?” was conducted for the Centre by CeSID in April 2011. The survey included 1200 citizens from the territory of Serbia and the results were confirmed by 6 focus groups held in Belgrade, Sombor, Zajecar, and Valjevo. The research was divided into four parts: personal safety and confidence in institutions, perception of citizens from the perspective of their social and economic position within society, national security and the importance of national identity, and ,lastly, perception of integration into international security institutions.

      A principal finding of the survey is that approximately three-quarters of citizens feel completely or almost completely safe and secure. At the same time, the majority do not attribute these convictions to the work of their security sector institutions. Those that feel insecure blame the bad economic situation (15%) and an increase in street crime and violence (11%). The bad economic situation has been mentioned in focus groups as well. It has been said that there will be an increase in street crime and violence in the future, that “people will starve,” that large amounts of people will be forced to “steal, rob and kill” resulting in the deterioration of the security situation, and that this will affect everyone.

      The sources of distrust towards the institutions and their lack of contribution to citizens’ feeling of safety lies in respondents’ answers to questions about their reasons for feeling safe at all: almost half of the participants (47%) say that they are safe because they “live normally and respect law and order,” or because they “live in a good neighborhood” - attributed by one-fifth of all questioned citizens. The number of participants who say that they are able to protect themselves is also significant (9.2%). The fact that only 6.1% of respondents believe that they are safe because the state institutions do their jobs effectively raises some concern.

      Findings about citizens’ opinions of the army and police forces are also interesting. More respondents are satisfied by the work of the police force. Additionally, the percentage of citizens who think that the quality of police work is at the same level as before 2000 (37%) and those who think that it has since improved (36%) is approximately the same. Assessing results from the point of view of the profession of the respondent, it is evident that those coming from working class jobs are more likely to assess the work of the police as much worse than it was pre-2000. For all citizens of Serbia, without many significant differences among them, the safety of the ethnic group to which they belong is of significant importance, to some even more important than their own personal safety (20%). In terms of the biggest threats to the security of ethnic Serb citizens, a negative birth rate, known as the “white plague” (39%) is first on the list. The “secession of Kosovo and Metohija” is next at 18%, followed by the “strengthening of nationalism and interethnic tensions.” Interestingly, “emigration and internal displacement” ranks fourth with 10%. Citizens of Serb ethnicity are, thus, seemingly most concerned about their survival. Participants in focus groups mostly agreed that Serbians and Serbia as a nation are the biggest collective losers in the area of the Former Yugoslavia, and that only Macedonian losses are comparative. There are, however, significant differences among respondents from different ethnic groups.

      With regards to integration, much more skepticism was expressed by the majority ethnic Serb citizens, who fear that joining the EU (35%) or NATO (52%) is a threat to national identity. Associations with (possible) integration into NATO are especially negative, with responses varying from “(it would mean that) we have a short memory” (22%) to “we sold ourselves” (20%) and “we betrayed our history and our ancestors” (17%). A very small percentage of citizens think that integration would show that “Serbia has vision” (6,5%), or that “Serbians are clever people” (4,7%). Kosovo remains a symbol of commitment for citizens of Serbian nationality; 65% think that the “Serbian government should not approve Kosovo’s independence by any means.” Only 12% think it should be done if it were a condition for EU integration.

      More generally, 58% percent of respondents believe that recognition of Kosovo’s independence would be a “shameful and treacherous act.” Two-thirds of citizens (66%) are against Serbian membership in NATO. Nearly one-fifth of citizens (18%) are undecided and 15.6% are pro-membership. Compared to 2010 (source: Medium Gallup), support for NATO integration has dropped by almost 5%.

      Related topics:Security, citizens, nato, Serbia
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