For the first time in two decades, the number of Serbians who are against joining the European Union is higher than those who want to become a member, according to a new survey.
The poll, which was conducted by Ipsos and first published in Blic newspaper, revealed that 44% of participants are against membership while 35% are in favour.
Ipsos’ Marko Uljarevic told Blic that it was the first time the number of those opposed to EU membership outstripped those in favour.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said the findings are similar to the mood in the ruling Serbian Progressive Party.
“I believe that Serbia has a place in the European Union, I believe that we should continue our European path and that we should fight for our dignified path to Europe,” he added. “We should keep our independence in decision-making, at least until we become a member of the EU.”
Serbia submitted its application for EU membership in 2009. Accession talks started in 2014 but lingering tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have held up the process.
Even though it is seeking to join the bloc, Belgrade also looks to Moscow.
It voted in favour of three United Nations resolutions condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine but has not joined international sanctions against Moscow.
Serbian political scientist Nemanja Todorović Štiplija, editor-in-chief at the web portal European Western Balkans, is sceptical about the survey.
“My opinion is that this research, just as it is with this narrative, was placed, to investigate the effects of the potential decision of the Serbian government to impose sanctions on Russia and accept all restrictive measures imposed by the EU on Russia,” he said.
It comes as Serbia’s interior minister Aleksandar Vulin said the country should reconsider its proclaimed goal of joining the European Union because of alleged Western pressure to join international sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.
“They are measuring our love for Europe by our hatred toward Russia,” Vulin told public broadcaster RTS. “If you love Europe, you have to hate Russia.
“Well, I don’t want to hate Russia, I don’t want to hate anyone. I have the right not to lose a single friend, I don’t participate in your conflicts.”/euronews