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    • Citizens of Serbia consider national security to be at the low level

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    • Date: 14 February 2017

      More than half of citizens believe that the country's national security is threatened, and two thirds of citizens see corruption and crime, as well as the behaviour of politicians, as the biggest internal threats, were the conclusions of the presentation of the research "Public Perception of Serbia's National Security and Dialogue with Pristina" which was held on 14th of February in the Belgrade Media center.

      A survey conducted a month ago showed that citizens poorly assess the fight against crime and corruption.

      "The opinion of the citizens is that the government is not serious in fighting corruption, and that the fight against crime is selective. They consider that investing in the economy and education can strengthen national security the most," said BCSP researcher Milos Popovic.

       External threats

      Popovic stressed that half of the respondents see great powers and terrorism as main external threats. He added that almost everyone surveyed believes that the main problem are policies of the great powers towards Serbia, while 15% see terrorism as a threat, and fewer respondents see the causes in internal and external policy of Serbia, migrants and neighbouring countries.

      "Citizens are not afraid of terrorist attacks, but they believe that the state is not able to protect them from terrorism. As the most reliable way for the state to deter citizens of Serbia from joining terrorist groups, citizens see the fight against poverty and marginalization of groups from which terrorists are recruited," said Popovic.

      Regional relations

      When it comes to the relations in the region, most citizens believe that Serbia has more enemies than friends in the region, but do not expect conflict in the next five years. More than a third of the citizens are afraid of the outbreak of armed conflict in the Balkans over the next five years, which is an increase compared to the BCSP research done in 2011.

      "Research indicates that more than one in four citizens (28%) would not be ready to provide any support to fellow nationals in case they are affected by the conflict in the neighbouring country, another 24% do not know whether they would be ready, and 27% would be willing to accept refugees", said BCSP Director Sonja Stojanovic Gajic.

      She added that research should contribute to the government working group dealing with new security strategy.

      Belgrade - Pristina Dialogue

      Research shows that the majority of citizens do not have relatives and friends in Kosovo (80%), they have never been to Kosovo, nor have ever met the person of Albanian nationality.

      "Three-quarters of citizens are for engagement in dialogue with Pristina, while only 9% are for it’s termination. Citizens support agreements with Pristina authorities, as long as they do not lead to recognition of independence. Only 8% are for independence if it will lead to stability and accelerate the development of Serbia and 10% is for the division of Kosovo," underlined the BCSP Director Sonja Stojanovic Gajic.

      According to the survey, three-quarters of the population do not consider entering into armed conflict with goal for Kosovo and Metohija to remain within Serbia justified, each tenth considers it justified, and 14% have no opinion on this issue.

      "The most militant are those who have never fought in a war - young people from 18 to 29 years old, to a number of 15 percent. Therefore, older citizens should explain to them that war is not romantic but a tremendous loss for all parties, "said Sonja Stojanovic Gajic, adding that among the advocates of the war, most of the respondents are with only primary education or unfinished university, but primarily young men who are the least integrated in Serbian society.
      The survey was conducted from 26th of December 2016 until 14th of January 2017, on a representative sample of 1,403 adult citizens. The presentation can be downloaded HERE.

      Research and conference are part of the "Renewed and revised co-operation between the BCSP, regional partners and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs", funded by Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

      Article translated by BCSP Intern Sanja Budimovic

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