The Gallup Balkan Monitor: the Western Balkans’ most wide-ranging survey ever
Balkan-Monitor.eu provides news and views about the Western Balkans. It’s the home of the Gallup Balkan Monitor survey that continually monitors the views of the Balkans residents: from their living standards, happiness and attitudes towards the EU, to their employment opportunities, feelings about living abroad and the performance of their governments. The Balkan Monitor is the one-stop-shop for anyone requiring strategic insights into the Balkans.
To explore the findings and our reports, please use the links above.
Mladić trial: towards a brighter future for Serbia?
July 5th 2011
The trial of the former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladić is expected to be long and intricate like the one of Radovan Karadžić (the former Bosnian Serb political leader) which is still ongoing. Adjourned for one month since its beginning on June 3rd 2011, Mladić is now stalling his prosecutors: he refused to enter a plea and asked for two other lawyers of his choice to defend his case.
The latest results of the Gallup Balkan Monitor (dating from July 2010) shed a light on Serbian public opinion as regards the case: a relative majority of respondents in Serbia (46%) thought it is worth to extradite all suspected war criminals to the ICTY in order to preserve peace and facilitate development, even if it is contrary to some or many peoples’ wishes.
However, when asked about Mladić in particular, the opinion recorded by the Balkan Monitor is more divided: 38% of respondents think that he is a good patriot and half that number (19%) said he was a war criminal. Just under a quarter (23%) did not think he was either of those and one-fifth did not know or would not answer the question. Asked in 2010 about the reasons why Mladić remained at large, 10% of people in Serbia thought that he was in the country, but could not be located, 17% were convinced that he was abroad and could not be located there – while the largest share, 35% of respondents, were of the opinion that the authorities knew where he was, but did not want to capture him.
Despite the positive global reaction to Mladić capture it remains to be seen whether it was “the last remaining obstacle on Serbia’s path towards the EU” (deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekarić to Beta news agency). The unclear status of Kosovo with EU member states divided over the recognition of its independence could pose another barrier to Serbia joining the EU. However, recent news from the current Kosovo-Serbian negotiations reporting that an important breakthrough in administrative matters has been achieved suggest that there might be some movement in the stalemate around the Kosovo issue. Public opinion on the Kosovo dispute, published in the Balkan Monitor’s July 2010 ‘Focus on Kosovo’s independence’, showed that unconciliatory public opinion will make it hard for politicians to find a compromise. The latest results confirm this assessment: two-thirds of respondents in Serbia are convinced that Serbia will ‘never’ recognize Kosovo and only under 4% of Kosovo Albanians would agree to a territorial compromise with either the Serb-majority areas of Kosovo joining Serbia or an exchange of Serb- and Albanian-majority areas between Serbia and Kosovo.
Debate on “Balkan views of a multipolar world” highlights diversity of opinions in Western Balkans
July 5th 2011+
On Friday 1 July, the Gallup Brussels office in partnership with the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) and LSE IDEAS (a research centre for the study of international affairs, diplomacy and grand strategy at the London School of Economics) hosted an event on “Balkan views of a multipolar world”. The discussion opened with a short introduction of the EFB’s activities by the Fund’s Programme Manager Igor Bandović. Gallup Europe Managing Director Robert Manchin then presented the main findings of recent Gallup Balkan Monitor survey related to the event’s topic. The most pertinent results of the survey include:
- Overall, Balkan residents’ views of foreign countries and organisations are becoming more conciliatory
- Four types of affiliations emerge:
- The Muslims and Albanians of the region are very positive about Western countries and organisations (such as the EU and NATO) and Turkey
- The Serbs in the Western Balkans feel increasingly isolated; even the usual fondness of Russia and China is slowly fading
- People in Croatia are above all protective of their own sovereignty – and are becoming suspicious of major powers
The results were commented upon by two highly prolific experts on Balkan affairs: Dr Svetozar Rajak (Academic Director of LSE IDEAS) looked at the historic dimension of Balkan affiliations with world powers before he made several observations regarding the poll’s results. Dr Dejan Jović, brought the rich experience from a long academic career and as Chief Analyst to the President of the Republic of Croatia to assess the current state of Balkanites’ views of the world.
Dr Rajak’s main emphasis was to deconstruct stereotypes associated to the “Western Balkans”, a terminology that the academic rejects. He showed how political circumstances played a major role in shaping peoples’ affiliations to world powers rather than what he called ‘natural’ or ‘ethnic loyalty’. According to him, what lies beneath the myth surrounding the so-called Western Balkans is the fact that these countries are ultimately normal European countries. On a similar note, Dr Jović insisted on the belonging of the Western Balkans to Europe (and the necessity to stop mystifying the region as an ‘other Europe’). Moreover, he delivered an optimistic speech about the future perspectives of the region even for Bosnia Herzegovina which remains in a political deadlock. Some members of the audience expressed doubts about Dr Jović’s optimism but the latter stood firm to justify his stance. The debate closed with comments given by Osman Topčagić, the Ambassador of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Mission to the EU in Brussels who expressed his confidence in the region’s future developments and confirmed Dr Jović in his opinion.
The presentation given by Robert Manchin can be found here.
Gallup and European Fund for the Balkans debate how people in the Balkans view the multipolar world
July 1st 2011+
In partnership with the European Fund for the Balkans, Gallup Europe is pleased to invite to its latest Learn@Lunch event: “Balkan views of a multipolar world” to be held on Friday, 1 July at Gallup House in Brussels. A Balkan buffet lunch will follow the presentations and discussion.
In the wake of the European Commission’s green light for Croatia’s accession to the EU and after a series of far-reaching events taking place in the Western Balkans with the involvement of external actors (e.g. the arrest of Ratko Mladić, the verdicts against Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač, the ICJ opinion on Kosovo’s independence), the Learn@Lunch event will be a timely occasion to shed light on the sympathies of the region’s populations with the major world powers.
After presenting Gallup’s latest results on Balkan perceptions of the world’s most influential states and International Organisations, Gallup Europe Managing Director Robert Manchin will be joined on the panel by Svetozar Rajak, Lecturer in International History and Academic Director at the London School of Economics and Dejan Jović, Chief Analyst to the President of the Republic of Croatia. The discussion will be followed by a question and answer session.
The Learn@Lunch programme can be found here.
As seats are limited, please register before Tuesday, 28 June with Beatriz Preto.
Final call of the EFB/Gallup roadshow in Podgorica and Tirana
February 2nd 2011+
The next to last stop of the 2010/2011 Gallup Balkan Monitor roadshow organised by the European Fund for the Balkans took place in Podgorica on Thursday, February 3rd. The Balkan Monitor’s most striking findings for Montenegro were discussed by a panel composed of Slavica Milacic, Secretary for EU integration in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and EU integration, Mr. Robert Manchin, Managing Director of Gallup Europe, Biljana Meshkovska, Program Manager at the European Fund for the Balkans, Mr Stevo Muk, President of the Managing Board of Institute Alternative and Ms Tea Gorjanc Prelevic, Executive Director of Human Rights Action.
The final stop of the road show will take place in Tirana in the month of March 2011, with the exact time/date being posted posted on this space soon.
Soaring food prices hitting Macedonians hard
January 19th 2011+
Reports from Macedonia (Balkan Insight) say that prices of basic consumer products (e.g. bread, milk, vegetables and fruit) are continuously climbing. This is no surprise; the UN FAO Price Index is at its highest since it began back in 1990. However, with prices of sugar, oils & fats at record levels, the impact in Macedonia could be worse than that in many other countries.
The latest Gallup Balkan Monitor (GBM) data showed that a quarter (24%) of Macedonians had experienced times in the last 12 months when they could not afford to buy food for themselves and family. Across the Balkans, only Albania and Kosovo (27% and 29%, respectively) had worse figures. Furthermore, just under three-quarters (72%) of Macedonians said they could only manage on their household’s income with “difficulty” or with “great difficulty”. Macedonia, together with Serbia, has continuously had more people in this position since the GBM started polling in 2006.
This constant struggle to survive is impacting the way Macedonians feel about their lives in general. On a scale of 0 to10, Macedonians gave their lives a score of 4.2 – the lowest in the region. The 2010 score was 0.3 points down from that in 2006. Only the Bosnian Federation has seen a steeper drop in life satisfaction in this time: from 5.1 in 2006 to 4.7 in 2010 (still 0.5 points higher than Macedonia).
The government has said it will consider selling its reserves of food and other goods if food prices continue to climb and increase social unrest. This might work for a period of time; the government does appear to inspire confidence. In the recent GBM poll, 39% felt that the Macedonian government was doing a “good” or “excellent” job. Only Montenegro with 47% had better figures in the region.
The Gallup Balkan Monitor team at Prishtina and Skopje
December 17th 2010+
The final European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) and Gallup Europe road show events for 2010 were held in Skopje (December 16) and Prishtina (December 17). The title of the Skopje event was “Internal threats or “external” enemies: What is the real danger for Macedonia?”; the event was held at the Holiday Inn, Millennium Hall 2. Giorgos Papadakis, Executive Director of the Balkan Children and Youth Foundation and Biljana Meshkovska, EFB Programme Manager, made introductory remarks and Gallup Researcher Andrzej Pyrka presented the survey results. On the panel were Erwan Fouere, EU Special Representative in Macedonia, Srdjan Kerim, General Manager of Media Print Macedonia, Dimitar Mirchev, Adviser to the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Imer Selmani, President of New Democracy and Radmila Sekerinska, Chairman of the National Council for European Integration.
The Prishtina event was entitled “Kosovo – The rocky road to state building: bringing Kosovo closer to Europe”, held at the EU Information and Cultural Centre, Prishtina. Opening remarks from the EFB’s Hedvig Morvai-Horvat and Venera Hajrullahu, Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF). The panel included Ylli Hoxha from Foreign Policy Club, Engjëllushe Morina from IKS, Momcilo Arlov from CCSD, Ilir Ibrahimi from AUK, Krenar Gashi from KIPRED and Ramadan Ilazi from FOL Movement.
The Gallup Balkan Monitor team - on the road again
November 25th 2010+
Following the highly successful road show events in 2008 and 2009 – organised by the European Fund for the Balkans and Gallup Europe – another whistle-stop tour of Western Balkan capitals is underway. Belgrade has already hosted the first event of the 2010 tour with the results of the third wave of the Gallup Balkan Monitor being presented on November 25 to a highly appreciative audience. Details of the presentation can be found here.
The 2010 road show will also make stops in Zagreb (November 26), Sarajevo (December 1), Skopje (December 16), Pristina (December 17), Podgorica and Tirana (dates to be announced). The title of the Zagreb presentation will be “Croatia and the region: heading in the right direction?”; click here for a programme of the event that will feature a high-level panel. Register for the Zagreb event by emailing email@example.com ASAP.
Full details of all the other events will soon be available on the website.
2010 GBM survey results debated - voices of the people, not the “usual suspects”
November 17th 2010+
With the results of the 2010 Balkan Monitor survey being launched, there were “full house” signs at Scotland House in Brussels, close to the European Commission’s headquarters at the Berlaymont. Policymakers, academics and journalists heard experts debate the current situation in the Western Balkans region. Introducing the event, Hedvig Morvai-Horvat, Executive Director, European Fund for the Balkans, emphasised that the survey did not provide information from the ‘usual suspects’ but revealed – for the third time – the voices of ordinary Balkan people.
Leading off, Gallup Europe’s Managing Director Robert Manchin presented an overview of the results, and commenting on the title of the event – “The rocky road to normality! Public opinion in the Balkans” – said it was somewhat difficult to define normality given the current conditions in the world. Looking at Kosovo’s results, Vetton Surroi, Chairman of the Board, Foreign Policy Club, argued that they showed that Kosovars were not afraid of stating their opinions now that independence had been achieved. On the subject of support for Greater Albania, he felt that this was probably a protest against reality rather than a genuine desire of Kosovars to join a new country. Focusing on Croatia, Eduard Kukan MEP said that the poor support for the EU was perhaps understandable as Croats had not seen the EU being helpful, for example, in the dispute between Croatia and Slovenia. Catherine Wendt, Head of Communications Unit, DG Enlargement, saw it as normal that people (in Croatia) might feel less keen about the EU as accession conditions started to bite. On the subject of corruption, she said many EU citizens feared that there were high levels in the Balkans and that this had to be addressed at an early stage.
For the EPC, Rosa Balfour urged caution when looking at the results as the current crisis was global and could impact everyone’s feelings. On Bosnia & Herzegovina, she said that mistakes had been made by both local politicians and the international community. Kukan, though, said that the conditions to secure visa liberalisation had been met and that this showed that progress could be made. Summing up her views, Balfour said that she felt somewhat optimistic overall and that her glass was half full. Manchin responded that this was normal given the comprehensive nature of the data, as there was such a wealth of opinions and views available in the survey results.
The key findings of the 2010 Balkan Monitor survey – covering Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – have been summarised in a “Summary of Findings 2010” document – available for download here.
Balkan Monitor 2010 results unveiled
November 17th 2010+
On Wednesday 18 November, in Brussels, in cooperation with the European Policy Centre (EPC) and the European Fund for the Balkans, the results of the 2010 Balkan Monitor survey were presented by Gallup Europe at a Policy Dialogue entitled “The rocky road to normality! Public opinion in the Balkans”. Policymakers, academics and journalists were hearing from a number of experts about the latest situation in the Western Balkans. On the podium were the EPC’s Rosa Balfour, Gallup Europe’s Managing Director Robert Manchin, Hedvig Morvai-Horvat, Executive Director, European Fund for the Balkans, Neil MacDonald, the FT’s correspondent in Belgrade, Catherine Wendt, Head of Communications Unit, DG Enlargement, Eduard Kukan MEP and Vetton Surroi, Chairman of the Board, Foreign Policy Club.
The key findings of the 2010 Balkan Monitor survey have been summarised in a “Summary of Findings 2010” document – available for download here
Event and public release of data: The rocky road to ‘normality’ - public opinion in the Balkans.
November 13th 2010+
The European Policy Centre, in cooperation with the European Fund for the Balkans, is hosting a Policy Dialogue on “The rocky road to ‘normality’- public opinion in the Balkans” (see here for details of the event) on Wednesday 17 November, 2010 in Brussels. The latest results of the Gallup Balkan Monitor will be released and presented by Gallup’s Managing Director Robert Manchin. Please register directly with the EPC by clicking on ‘Open for registration’ on the EPC’s website.
Some hopeful signs in Bosnia and Herzegovina
November 9th 2010+
The most recent Balkan Monitor “Focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina” report reveals increasing optimism over a number of indicators. The report shows that there is a greater degree of trust between major ethnic groups. Whereas, in 2006, only half of Bosnian respondents expressed trust in an ethnic group other than their own, these numbers are now between 59% and 73%. Furthermore, the number of Bosnians from all ethnic groups now believing that there is little likelihood of another war, in the near future, is currently at its highest recorded level. Importantly, feelings about government performance have also been improving since 2008. However, whereas the number of people assessing poor government performance has fallen, people believing that the performance is good or excellent continue to be in a small minority. This holds particularly true in the Bosnian Federation and, to a lesser extent, in Republika Srpska. In addition, given the remaining challenges for economic and democratic development, it is interesting that Bosnians themselves view the continuing international presence to be helpful (32%) rather than harmful (21%).
The full report can be accessed here.
Serbia step up search for Mladic ahead of Brammertz visit
November 2nd 2010+
Serbian police today examined three locations in the search for war-crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic. The searches were unsuccessful.
The government recently raised its reward for his capture to 10 million euros and added that this demonstrated its intention to remove “the last remaining obstacle on its path towards the EU.”
The latest results in the Gallup Balkan Monitor showed that over a third of Serbs believe that the authorities know where Mladic is but they do not want to capture him. A similar number (37%) believe he cannot be located, while 28% did or would not answer the question.
Asked for their opinions about Mladic, 38% thought he was a good patriot and half that number (19%) said he was a war criminal. Just under a quarter (23%) did not think he was either of those and 20% did or would not answer the question.
The chief UN war crimes prosecutor to the former Yugoslvia, Serge Brammortz, is set to visit Serbia shortly to see if Serbia is doing everything it can to apprehend Mladic.
GBM welcomes the UN’s first World Statistics Day
October 20th 2010+
Today is 20.10.2010, designated by the UN as the first World Statistics Day. There is no better day, therefore, for us to announce that the latest findings and trends revealed by the fourth wave of the Gallup Balkan Monitor surveys – recently completed – will be presented in Brussels on Wednesday November 17th. The event will take place at Scotland House, Rond-Point Schuman 6, at 14.30. Details of how to register for the event will follow shortly.
Gay Pride battles in Belgrade reflect opinions on the ground
October 11th 2010+
On Sunday, the first Gay Pride march in Belgrade since 2001 took place against a backdrop of violent clashes between police and protesters, said to be chanting “death to homosexuals”. While such clashes could have been predicted, the latest Gallup Balkan Monitor results (September 2010) can help to put the riots in context.
When asked for their feelings about homosexuality, 70% of respondents in Serbia said they strongly agreed that homosexual relations were always wrong. Furthermore, three-quarters of those respondents strongly agreed that homosexuals should not show their sexual preferences in public. For those two questions, Serbia recorded the highest proportions for the whole of the Balkan region; the next highest figures were 64% and 66%, respectively, in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Serbia also had the most respondents (63%) strongly agreeing that homosexuals should not hold public posts, such as a teacher. Given that strength of feeling, the Gay Pride march through the centre of Belgrade was always going to attract the attention of extremists. Interestingly, however, Serbia also had the highest proportion of respondents (27%, the same as Croatia) strongly agreeing that homosexuals were entitled to the same rights as all other people. This last figure is mainly due to a difference in the opinions of metropolitan and rural dwellers in Serbia: while in large cities, a third (34%) of respondents were of such an opinion, in rural areas and small cities, only 22% strongly felt that homosexuals should have equal rights.
Over 100 people, mainly police, were hurt in the skirmishes, while over 100 people were arrested. Perhaps fearful of this dent in Serbia’s image as it strives for EU membership, Serbia’s President, Boris Tadic, condemned the “vandalism” on Belgrade streets and pledged that the rioters would be arrested and punished. He added, “Serbia will guarantee human rights for all its citizens, regardless of the differences among them, and no attempts to revoke these freedoms with violence will be allowed.”
On the question of whether homosexual acts were morally wrong, 82% of Serbs accepted this premise. This was compared to 91% in Kosovo and 89% in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The lowest figure in the Balkans was recorded in Croatia, where about two-thirds (65%) felt that such acts were morally wrong.
Tadic cautious ahead of meeting with EU
September 21st 2010+
Ahead of his meeting with EU officials, Serbia’s President Boris Tadic urged caution about future dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. He said it was “too early to speculate” on the type of dialogue that would take place. On Thursday, President Tadic will meet EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton to discuss the format of future talks.
Two weeks ago, Belgrade was obliged to change the text of its resolution on Kosovo that sought to condemn Pristina’s 2008 declaration of independence. President Tadic has to be careful; Gallup Balkan Monitor results showed that 70% of Serbs were unwilling to accept Kosovo’s independence as a price for joining the EU.
Given the situation, the recent GBM publication – “Focus On Kosovo’s Independence” – makes essential reading as it provides views on how people in Kosovo view independence, differences between the views of ethnic groups, opinions about the international presence and, importantly, how the situation is seen in Serbia. The full report can be found here.
Publication of the GBM report on Kosovo’s independence
August 5th 2010+
Following the recent International Court of Justice decision on Kosovo, the GBM team has assembled data on how Kosovo’s independence functions on the ground. These results have been incorporated in the latest Focus On report – a series that examines the major issues impacting the Western Balkans. This latest issue – Focus On Kosovo’s Independence – looks at the way people in Kosovo view independence, differences between the views of ethnic groups, opinions about the international presence and, importantly, how the situation is seen in Serbia.
Among the key findings described in the report are that:
- Montenegro and the people of Kosovo – both of the major ethnic groups – saw the region becoming less stable as a result of the Kosovo-Serbia dispute.
- Both of the major ethnic groups in Kosovo saw it being less likely – compared to their views 12 months earlier – that they could live together in harmony.
- Neither of the ethnic groups in Kosovo were convinced of the benefit of the international presence in the country.
- 70% of Serbs were unwilling to accept Kosovo’s independence as a price for joining the EU; President Tadic is likely to take this as a mandate and retain his forthright position on the issue. Indeed, he is planning to go to the UN to seek a negotiated compromise on the future of the territory.
The full report can be found here.
Reaction to ICJ ruling on Kosovo predicted by GBM
July 23rd 2010+
Immediately after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on Kosovo’s independence, Serbia’s President Boris Tadic stated that Serbia would never recognise the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo. By doing so, Tadic was reiterating the views of Serbs in the 2009 GBM poll: 64% said that Serbia would never recognise Kosovo’s independence (up three percentage points from 2008).
In the same poll, the number of Kosovo Albanians thinking that independence had turned out to be a good thing dropped by 18 percentage points from its 93% figure in 2008. This could have been due to the economic situation in the country: 60% of Albanians in Kosovo had struggled to pay utility bills in the past year and only 3% of the unemployed felt they would be likely to get a job within 12 months.
Although Kosovo Albanians celebrated the ICJ ruling, it will undoubtedly take many years for the country to recover from the effects of the Balkan wars. Baroness Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the future of both Serbia and Kosovo lay in the European Union. Her comments on Kosovo were backed by 83% of Kosovo Albanians; in Serbia, however, only 50% of Serbs felt that joining the EU would be a good thing.
Following the ICJ ruling, Serbia said it would seek UN support for a negotiated compromise on Kosovo’s future; it could be that Serbia decides to put its opposition to Kosovo’s independence ahead of accession to the EU.
Environmental issues take the stage at EXIT
July 15th 2010+
The legendary EXIT music festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, has its origins in the political upheavals of 2000. That has led to EXIT retaining an air of rebellion and therefore being an ideal venue for a debate about the importance of the environment. The event – entitled “Development vs. Environment” – was organised at the festival in cooperation with the European Fund for the Balkans. Moderating, Gallup’s Andrzej Pyrka turned to his company’s polls that showed Americans giving priority to economic growth over environmental protection – see here. Pyrka wanted the panel’s views on where priorities should lie and if they really saw this as a choice between the environment and future growth.
Nebojša Pokimica, Serbian Assistant Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, argued that his ministry was trying to raise awareness for environmental issues that were currently not very high on the population’s agenda. Pokimica added that he was interested in further developing this field, i.e. away from carbon, to more environmentally-friendly technologies. Nigel Jollands, Head of the Energy Efficiency Unit at the International Energy Agency, wanted priorities to be focused on quality of life with environmental protection being a key part of the future. As the Balkan region was clearly in transition, Jollands wanted policymakers to have the environment high on the agenda from the outset. Marko Rakar, an independent Croat analyst and activist, wanted more government intervention in support of environmentally-friendly products and, in response to a question from the floor, he said it was vital that young well-educated people of the region took responsibility in re-shaping their societies. Dorit Nitzan, Head of Country Offices of the WHO in Serbia and Montenegro, said it was difficult to find the right balance between environmental protection and economic development and that few emerging economies had found that balance. Although impressed by what the Serbian government was saying, she wanted more concrete actions. Certainly the audience felt that the government should be doing more.
Pyrka closed the debate with some more data from the Gallup polls; with – for example – 9% of Serbs and 11% of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina never having heard of climate change, there was still work to be done.
MEPs in favour of Kosovo recognition by all EU member states
July 12th 2010+
Last week, MEPs in Strasbourg adopted a resolution on Kosovo calling for all EU member states to recognise Kosovo’s independence. The resolution stated that EU member states should “step up their common approach towards Kosovo”. To-date 22 member states have recognised Kosovo’s independence, while five have not: Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.
MEPs also called for more practical steps to make the benefits of co-operating with the EU more tangible to Kosovo’s citizens. Certainly, any progress towards visa liberalisation would be welcomed by Kosovo citizens as they placed “freer travel” at the top of the list of benefits they thought EU accession would bring – 93%, one of the highest figures in the region.
Returning to the issue of the recognition of Kosovo’s independence, it is interesting to see how the issue is seen closer to home. One in four Kosovo Albanians thought that Serbia would accept independence within five years. However, only 6% of Kosovo Serbs and 11% of Serb nationals felt that way. Indeed, 80% of Kosovo Serbs and 67% of Serb nationals thought that Serbia would never recognise Kosovo’s independence.
Croatia and Serbia together against organised crime
June 30th 2010+
Hot on the heels of the publication of the UN’s 2010 World Drug Report that raised the issues of corruption and a lack of regional cooperation in the Balkans, Croatia and Serbia yesterday signed a treaty allowing the extradition of people wanted in connection with organised crime. Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic said the treaty achieved two of Serbia’s policy goals – European integration and the intensification of the fight against organised crime. Malovic’s Croatian counterpart Ivan Simonovic described the treaty as “a reflection of a clear and determined intent” of the two countries to stand together in this fight. The full UN report can be found here.
Gallup Balkan Monitor surveys have consistently highlighted these two issues. In 2009, more than two-thirds of respondents in all countries of the Western Balkans (with the exception of Montenegro) saw corruption as widespread within businesses and government and these figures – especially in the business world – have tended to rise across the board since 2006. That survey showed that 91%-92% of Serbs and Croats felt that corruption in business was widesread. The findings also showed strong support for greater neighbourhood ties; in Serbia, 63% of respondents wanted more regional cooperation, up from 62% in 2008, while in Croatia, the respective figures were 51% and 43%.
UN Drug Report points a finger at the Balkans
June 29th 2010+
At the recent EFB/Gallup Learn@Lunch event on “Governance and corruption – breaking the cycle”, Dušan Reljić of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs examined some of the fundamental problems in the Balkans. He stated that since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the region has become a key link in the chain in the transport of heroin, from Afghanistan to the West; Reljić saw this as a side effect of “economic globalisation”.
Further confirmation comes with the publication of the 2010 World Drug Report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime; it states that 37% of all Afghan heroin is annually trafficked via the “Balkan route” towards the European market. The full report can be found here.
With a relatively small quantity of drugs being seized in the Balkans, the UN report raises the issues of corruption and a lack of regional cooperation. The Gallup Balkan Monitor surveys have consistently highlighted these problems. More than two-thirds of respondents in all countries of the Western Balkans (with the exception of Montenegro) saw corruption as widespread within businesses and government and these figures – especially in the business world – have tended to rise across the board since 2006. The survey also showed strong support for greater neighbourhood ties; in Macedonia, for example, 63% of respondents wanted more regional cooperation, up from 57% in 2008.
PACE statement on rule of law in Kosovo in line with Gallup Balkan Monitor findings
June 24th 2010+
On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a report that stated that there was poor respect for the rule of law in Kosovo, which “affects the everyday lives of all persons in Kosovo, irrespective of the community they belong to, undermines their trust in the political system and the prospects of economic development”. The report recommended that the EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX, the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, and the local authorities in Kosovo should take concrete actions to address these issues.
The situation outlined in the report is similar to that reflected in the Gallup Balkan Monitor findings. The latest survey showed that 31% of Kosovo Albanians felt that organised crime affected them on a daily basis – the highest figure in the Western Balkans region. Overall, 72% of Kosovo Albanians (the highest figure in the region except for the Bosnian Federation) and 49% of Kosovo Serbs, said they were, at least occasionally, affected by organised crime.
Furthermore, about two-thirds of Kosovars (64%) felt that the government was not doing enough to fight organised crime; this compared to 48% who felt that way in 2008 (a 16 percentage point increase). Interestingly, while around 6 in 10 Kosovo Albanians (59%) approved of the country’s leadership (a higher rating than any other in the region), 87% of them felt the government was corrupt. This last figure was only topped by that in the Bosnian Federation (94%).
A few days earlier, on June 18, Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, had met Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. At the meeting, it was acknowledged that while Kosovo was making progress in the fight against organised crime and corruption, a number of important challenges remained.
Macedonia: Accession talks likely to be on hold
June 16th 2010+
At the end of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg, there was no specific mention of Macedonia and that will probably herald a hold on further EU accession talks pending a resolution of the naming dispute with Greece. Macedonia currently holds the presidency of the Council of Europe, under the title of the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, and 10 MEPs recently wrote to the Council asking that the EU should not postpone the talks. The letter, organised by Slovene MEP Zoran Thaler, also urged Greece not to block Macedonia’s EU accession process. At the same time, reports in the Greek newspaper Kathimerini had hinted that Greece and Macedonia were close to resolving the naming dispute that has been simmering for 18 years.
The dispute does remain an issue on the ground. Macedonians are apportioning blame for the naming dispute between their own and Greek politicians. With four in five Macedonian respondents ready to vote yes in a referendum on EU accession, there is undoubtedly a feeling that the dispute should be resolved as soon as possible. While in 2008, roughly two-thirds (68%) of respondents blamed Greece for the disagreement, this figure dropped to 53% in the latest survey; 30% stated that it was now more the fault of Greece, but that Macedonia should also take a share of the blame.
Over in Greece, there has been no lessening of resolve. About four in five (82%) respondents thought that the naming dispute was completely or more the fault of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Almost three-quarters (72%) looked upon the FYR of Macedonia (somewhat or very) unfavourably, two-thirds found the naming issue to be very important and 85% felt that Greece should block the FYR of Macedonia’s entry to the EU if there was no agreement.
In the past 18 years, 120 countries have recognised the name “Republic of Macedonia” and, as time passes, the Greek view seems to be becoming more and more isolated. That does not appear to be enough for the EU, however, and Macedonia’s accession talks seem to have slipped to the back of the queue.
Corruption debate highlights lack of trust in the judiciary
June 11th 2010+
It was “standing room only” at the latest Gallup/EFB Learn@Lunch event on “Governance and corruption – breaking the cycle”. In front of a packed house, Robert Manchin, Managing Director of Gallup Europe, argued that corruption was not just blocking investment in the Balkans, but also having a negative impact on the lives of everyday citizens. Highlighting the fact that trust in the judiciary was practically non-existent, he said that only 20% or fewer respondents in each country in the region placed a lot of trust in the legal system. Other Gallup Balkan Monitor data showed that corruption was one of the top three issues in the Balkans (unemployment – 70%, standard of living – 37%, corruption – 30%). In Albania, Croatia and Kosovo, residents were more concerned about corruption than they were about their standard of living. Mr Manchin’s presentation can be found here.
After Gallup researcher Andrzej Pyrka had introduced the event, which focused on governance, corruption and political accountability in the region, EFB Programme Manager Igor Bandović provided an overview of the Fund’s various initiatives and projects in the region. Sharing the podium with Manchin was Dušan Reljić, Research Associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, who argued that the Balkans needed a “new political structure”. Giving a thorough analysis of the problems besetting the region, he argued that there was no great desire for integration on the part of the EU and regional politicians were paying less attention to compliance due to their own short term aims.
Questioned about how growth could be achieved in the region, Reljić said the best instrument would be to increase employment, as, for example, 30,000 people in Kosovo joined the job market each year. He argued that the EU should permit labour migration from the Balkans in order to reduce corruption as this was often caused by people having no other choice in life. With other data showing that 80%-90% of respondents in Croatia, Serbia and BiH perceived both governments and business to be corrupt, Manchin argued that the governmental structures themselves were extremely fragile. Reljić closed the debate by saying that the eurozone crisis had put the whole future of South Eastern Europe in question; reform would make the region more competitive but as the Western Balkans were blocked from exporting to the EU, the future was bleak and the “economic model” was not working.
Hopes and fears revealed at Balkans 2025 event
June 4th 2010+
There was a packed house at the EFB’s “Back to the Future” event on June 2nd, held as part of the Brussels EFC Foundations Week. Young and talented Balkan residents, some of whom had benefited from the EFB’s largesse, were brought together to present their views on the region’s past, present and future. Introducing the event, EFB Executive Director Hedvig Morvai-Horvat focused on the Fund’s wish to invest in young people of the Western Balkan region and gave some details of the impressive number of initiatives and events organised by the EFB since its creation in 2007. A short documentary film – “The Culture Lobby” – described the hopes and fears of the region’s people and perfectly set the scene for the discussion.
Gallup researcher Andrzej Pyrka had the job of moderating the debate and managed to skilfully use the lyrics of the Balkan Eurovision Song Contest entries to illustrate feelings on the ground. Kicking off the discussion, Andrzej asked the speakers to give a personal perspective. Tirana’s Enkeleda Suti admitted she was apprehensive about Albania losing part of its culture and solid family foundations if it joined the EU. Skopje’s Mila Stankovik was rather scared of the economic pressure on Macedonia once it entered the Union but was generally looking forward to a European future. Sarajevo’s Vedran Mujagić – whose music was featured at the debate – surprised the audience by stating that the Dayton Agreement had made four million people miserable; it had, however, provided him with a significant amount of creative input. From Serbia, Belgrade’s Milica Pekić bemoaned the lack of state support for culture and Predrag Nikolić wanted to reduce the centralised focus on Belgrade as Serbia was much more than that.
After illustrating opinions with some data from the Gallup Balkan Monitor and other surveys, Andrzej asked the speakers to look forward to 2025. Vedran wanted his people to stop passively waiting for the EU and to be proactive; Bosnia had to become self-sustainable and a normal member of the EU community. Milica wanted the potential of the region’s young people to be recognised and, for herself, she wished to be totally free. The last word went to Mila, who did not want to say what she would be doing in 2025 as, above all, she liked surprises. The event had certainly been a breath of fresh air and as, for once, the sun shone in Brussels, the audience left with a better understanding of the talent, strength and intelligence of the region’s young people. And that was exactly what the EFB had wanted.
Western Balkan civil society organisations call for “new impetus” in EU accession process
June 3rd 2010+
Ahead of the EU-Balkan Summit in Sarajevo on June 2nd, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) joined with The Foreign Policy Initiative BH to host a seminar, in that city, entitled “The Western Balkans: the path to European integration”.
The seminar examined the state of play in the Western Balkan countries in relation to the process of EU enlargement. During the seminar, representatives of civil society of the Western Balkan countries met to prepare a declaration to be presented at the aforementioned EU-Balkan Summit.The declaration called for a “new chapter in relations between the EU and the Western Balkans countries”.
Among the seminar speakers was Robert Manchin, Gallup Europe’s Managing Director and the event also featured, along with others, Ana Trišić-Babić, Deputy Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Miroslav Lajčák, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Slovak Republic and Dimitris Kourkoulas, Head of the EU Delegation to Sarajevo, future Director, DG Enlargement, European Commission.
There is a news item on the event on the ISS website and the full declaration can be found here.
Trouble brews in Bosnia as EU-Balkans summit nears
May 30th 2010+
Just a matter of days before the EU-Balkan Summit in Sarajevo, a row has developed between Bosnian officials and the country’s international high representative. The negative comments about the Office of the High Representative (OHR) reflect a growing unease across the country; this disquiet was highlighted in the 2009 Gallup Balkan Monitor results. They showed that 41% of respondents in the (Muslim-Croat) Federation and 61% of interviewees in Republika Srpska thought that the OHR was not needed in order for the country to function. In the Federation, support for the OHR was down dramatically from 60% in 2008 to 46% in 2009.
Earlier this week, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Prime Minister Nikola Spiric wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking him to remove Bosnia’s top international envoy Valentin Inzko. Spiric accused Inzko of destabilising the country, as he was “contributing to non-functional governance in Bosnia.” The people’s view, however, could be summed up in the words of William Shakespeare – “a plague on all your houses”: 94% of citizens of the Federation thought there was widespread corruption in government and 82% of respondents from the Republika Srpska felt the same way. Across Bosnia and Herzegovina, 77% of interviewees felt the country was going in a bad direction; in the Western Balkans, only Croats were more pessimistic.
With political instability rife throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU focusing on internal issues rather than further expansion, there seems to be little hope of progress towards EU accession. The people, though, still see the Union as a way out of a bad situation: 66% of Bosnian citizens would welcome accession to the EU (76% in the Republic; 48% Republika Srpska).
As for Inzko, he wanted the country to” get back on (the EU) track.” He argued that politicians had their eyes set on October’s general elections and that Bosnian Serb politicians were suggesting that, rather than integration of the ethnic groups, further dissolution was possible. Indeed, 60% of Bosnian citizens argued that their leaders were not doing enough to adapt the country’s laws and regulations to meet EU requirements. But perhaps the future is not just dependent on internal Bosnian issues. Asked if Kosovo’s independence set a precedent for Bosnia’s future and cleared the way for the secession of Republika Srpska or even majority Croatian parts of the country, about 4 in 10 Bosnians agreed (30%), up from 29% in 2008. Interestingly, over a third (35%) of respondents in the Federation felt that Kosovo’s independence showed the way for Bosnia (compared to just 23% in 2008).
With so much uncertainty in Bosnia and Herzegovina, perhaps it would be wise to give the final word to Shakespeare, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
Crisis in Serbia – many opinions, few answers
May 28th 2010+
In mid May, speaking at the National Defence School in Belgrade, Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said that the economic crisis in Serbia was “statistically and formally” over. Yesterday, Albert Jaeger, the head of the IMF mission, stated that 2010 and 2011 would be two difficult years for Serbia as “recovery has been more hesitant than expected.” He added that the country had to strengthen fiscal discipline in order to withstand the slow growth. This came as the IMF reached agreement with Serb ministers on the stand-by arrangement (€3 billion in total) that would enable Serbia to have access to the latest tranche of €380 million (subject to final approval in June).
With such a measure of disagreement, therefore, on Serbia’s future outlook, it might be wise to look at the picture on the ground. There is only one word to describe it: bleak. In the latest Gallup Balkan Monitor survey, 87% of Serbs felt that the economic crisis has had a negative effect on the national economy. Even worse, 76% said they were struggling to get by on their household income – the highest figure in the Western Balkans. Furthermore, in the 12 months prior to the latest survey, 25% of Serbs did not have enough money to buy food and other essential items. No surprise then, that 63% of Serbs were pessimistic about the future – another figure that was the highest in the Western Balkans.
It was somewhat surprising then to hear Cvetkovic say that in 2012, the Serbian economy was expected to grow at the annual rate of five to six per cent, which “would be a very good rate”. The people tended to support the IMF’s view: only 17% of Serbs approved of the government’s performance. The institutions in which respondents placed the most confidence (a lot or some) were the military (69%) and the church (66%). Even the media (44%) outscored the national government (27%). Things are bleak indeed.
Balkans high on the agenda of the EU Council’s Balkan working group
March 19th 2010+
Gallup and the EFB recently made a joint presentation to the EU Council of Minister’s working group for Western Balkan affairs (COWEB) – a body made up of Balkan experts from the permament representations of the 27 EU member states, plus observers from institutions such as the European Commission.
As COWEB is a Council body and Spain currently holds the presidency, the meeting was chaired by a Spanish representative. Following an introduction about the EFB’s activities and objectives by its Programme Manager Igor Bandovic, Gallup Europe CEO Robert Manchin gave an in-depth presentation on developments reflected in the GBM surveys conducted in the Western Balkans between 2006 and 2009. In particular, Manchin focused on the effects of the financial crisis, perceptions about the EU in the Balkan region, sympathies towards countries inside and outside of the region, levels of trust in national and interational institutions, and finally, perceptions of corruption and organised crime.
The presentation certainly generated a lot of interest and COWEB members asked a wide range of questions, mostly about topics of direct interest to EU member states: these included the intentions of Balkan residents to migrate, the volatility of EU support in the region and the development of inter-ethnic relations in the Western Balkans.
Pristina sees the EFB/Gallup roadshow make its final call
March 7th 2010+
The final stop of the Gallup/EFB roadshow was on February 25 in Pristina. EFB Executive Director Hedvig Morvai-Horvat introduced the event and Robert Manchin, Gallup Europe’s CEO, presented the Kosovo results of the latest survey. These showed that Kosovo citizens were the most optimistic in the Western Balkans region: almost half (48%) felt the country was heading in the right direction (48%). The survey also revealed that external actors, and especially NATO, were the most trusted institutions among Kosovo Albanians (90% had a lot or some trust in the Aliance). Corruption in the government, however, was perceived as rising (87% of Kosovo citizens felt that way, a figure only surpassed in the Bosnian Federation), and only 3 in 10 (31%) thought the government was doing everything it could to fight organised crime.
On the panel, the New Kosovo Alliance’s Mimoza Kusari-Lila said that Kosovo Albanians’ optimism was a result of a lack of information and would not last forever; as economic problems would become more apparent. Ilir Deda, of the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development, explained that the high “pro-American stance” of Kosovar Albanians was understandable, as many people believed that the US, and not the EU, had brought them independence. He added that the rising support for Greater Albania among Kosovo Albanians should not be seen as simply a drive towards national unity, but also as a rational move based on economics. Deda reasoned that unification with “the wider economic space of Albania” was perceived as a path towards a better life.
Conflicting views in Tirana and Skopje
March 1st 2010+
Towards the end of February, the Gallup/EFB roadshow passed through Tirana and Skopje. In Tirana, the event was organized jointly with the European Movement in Albania and the Albanian School of Political Studies. Robert Manchin, Gallup Europe’s CEO, presented the Albanian results which showed that while its citizens were satisfied with their standard of living (54%) and the EU (88%), most respondents saw more opportunities abroad (64%).
After EFB Executive Director Hedvig Morvai-Horvat had introduced the panel, Selim Belortaja, Albania’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, recognised the importance of the surveys on public perceptions and expressed his satisfaction with the fact that most Albanians believed the country was moving in the right direction. He claimed that while many respondents seemed to be interested in leaving the country, many Albanians regularly returned. Despite the survey indicating that support for Greater Albania had risen compared to 2006 (to 71%), Thomas von Handel, head of the Political, Economic and Information Section in the EU Delegation, argued that there was no serious political debate on this topic in Albania. He was personally pleased with the high support that the EU was enjoying in the country.
In Skopje, the presentation of results showed that citizens were seriously worried about Macedonia’s economic situation. Two-thirds of unemployed Macedonians did not feel they would be able to find a job in the next 12 months, which made them the most pessimistic in the region. Over 70% of respondents stated they had problems in getting by with household income.
Commenting on the decline in the belief that EU accession was a good thing, EU Delegation representative in Macedonia, Erwan Fouéré, stated that perceptions in the Balkans were never static and that included views about the EU. On the naming dispute (the survey had shown that respondents were getting impatient with the country’s leaders), Fouéré said that this had been a problem for too long, and its resolution would help Euro-Atlantic integration in the country. This view was supported by MP Ermira Mehmeti Devaja who argued that the issue had overshadowed important problems in Macedonian society such as politicised administration, corruption and a low standard of living. The Institute of Sociological and Political Research’s Mirjana Malevska quoted results from her institution’s survey which showed that the dire economic situation could lead to the radicalisation of some segments of the population, and especially those worst hit by the crisis.
Montenegrins happy with the government but not about the economy
February 22nd 2010+
On February 18, the Gallup Europe and European Fund for the Balkans roadshow stopped off in Podgorica for an event entitled “Montenegro and the EU: Government knows best”. Gallup Europe CEO Robert Manchin presented the latest Gallup Balkan Monitor survey results; they showed that roughly half of Montenegrins (48%) thought that the government’s performance was excellent or good. This was despite the fact that only 37% were satisfied with their material situation (down from 45% in 2008). The results also showed that almost half (47%) of Montenegrins now felt the country was going in a bad direction (up from 29% in 2008) and only 31% felt the economy was improving (down from 49%). Finally, just under a quarter of Montenegrins (23%) felt that ‘petty’ corruption might be more useful than harmful – the highest figure in the Western Balkans.
Following an introduction by EFB Programme Manager Igor Bandovic, a lively debate ensued. Miodrag-Misko Vukovic, Head of the International and European Relations Committee of the Montenegrin Parliament, agued that the survey results showed that Montenegro was a stable, tolerant, and politically mature society; one in which its citizens did not change their opinions easily. Many problems that Montenegro faced, including such corruption, he added, were shared by other European countries, but were just more visible in Montenegro due to its small size. Daliborka Uljarevic, Director of the Centre for Civic Education, however, believed that the survey results were an expression of the authorities’ fear and Montenegrin citizens’ lack of education. According to Uljarevic, the Government did not have the courage to go through with the necessary painful reforms and the electorate felt the same way; both groups appeared to be happy with the situation. The CEMI Monitoring Centre’s Zlatko Vujovic, however, argued that Montenegrin and Kosovar citizens appeared to be the most positive because they were the least open in their responses about the Government.
Two years on, Kosovo Albanians more sober about their independence
February 17th 2010+
On the second anniversary of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, a look at the latest Gallup Balkan Monitor results showed Kosovo Albanians as being less positive toward independence. Seventy-five percent of Kosovo Albanians said independence was a good thing, down from 93% who said so in 2008. One in five Kosovo Albanians said they did not have an opinion. Furthermore, 80% of Kosovo Serbs believed that independence was a bad thing, statistically unchanged since 2008.
Despite being less positive that Kosovo’s independence was a good thing, almost half (48%) of Kosovo Albanians said things in the country were going in a good direction. Hardly any Kosovo Serbs agreed with that (2% vs. 86% who disagreed). The proportion of Kosovo Albanians who said the country was going in a good direction is among the highest in the Western Balkan region. Some of the lowest proportions were seen in Croatia (8%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (16%), and Serbia (21%).
Looking to the future, a large majority of Kosovo Albanians and Serbs said they would not be ready to accept a division of Kosovo with the Serbian territory joining Serbia as part of the final peace settlement. Such a solution would not be acceptable to 94% of Kosovo Albanians and 82% of Kosovo Serbs. More than 1 in 10 Kosovo Serbs (12%) said they could accept such a division.
While 65 United Nations member states have recognized Kosovo’s independence, 80% of Kosovo Serbs said Serbia would never accept this. Furthermore, almost two-thirds (64%) of Serbian respondents said Serbia would never recognize such independence.
Bosnia: visa liberalisation - an opportunity despite the politicians
February 10th 2010+
In early February, the Gallup Europe and European Fund for the Balkans roadshow reached Sarajevo for an event that focused on visa liberalisation: “a chance that should not be missed”. Before an expectant audience, EFB programme manager Igor Bandovic introduced the panel and Gallup research analyst Andrzej Pyrka presented the GBM results for BiH including the findings that almost half of BiH citizens (47%) felt that visa liberalisation divided the Western Balkans and that over three-quarters (78%) of those citizens would like to continue living in the country.
With TV Hayat’s Adnan Rondić moderating the panel discussion, Nedeljko Masleša, assistant director of the Directorate of EU Integration, quoted his own survey that showed that just a third of BiH citizens were sufficiently well-informed about the EU. Vehid Šehić, director of the Forum of Tuzla Citizens, was critical; he suggested that BiH citizens should make their own politicians deliver results – on issues such as visa liberalisation – rather than be continually turning towards Brussels for assistance. Faruk Borić, editor of the Oslobođenje newspaper said he would prefer visa liberalisation to be granted to BiH after the October general election so that none of those same politicians could claim it as their personal success.
The event concluded with an animated Q&A session where several of the audience’s fears were aired. It was suggested that the EU was biased against Muslims in their visa liberalisation decisions and that such liberalisation could lead to a real exodus from the country. The panel held firm however, arguing that neither of those theories held any credence.
Croats’ lack of optimism fiercely debated
February 9th 2010+
The Gallup Europe and European Fund for the Balkans roadshow – this time in cooperation with the Academy for Political Development – reached Zagreb on Thursday, January 21; a lively debate – introduced by EFB Executive Director Hedvig Morvai-Horvat and moderated by Croatian journalist Neven Santic – ensued around the subject of Croatia’s lack of enthusiasm as it approached the goal of EU membership. Indeed, the latest Gallup Balkan Monitor survey results, presented at the event by Gallup Europe CEO Robert Manchin, had shown Croats to be some of the West Balkans’ gloomiest citizens. The audience – including ambassadors, representatives of civil society and government, and EFB Alumni network members – then heard short introductions by EFB Executive Director, Hedvig Morvai-Horvat, Executive Director of the Academy for Political Development, Nevena Crljenko and Head of Delegation of the EU to the Republic of Croatia, Paul Vandoren. Drawing on his experience in Croatia, Vandoren argued that Croatian scepticism – as shown in the GBM results – had to be viewed in the context of the global economic crisis. Professor, Faculty of Law, Zagreb, Josip Kregar, was surprised that the survey results indicated that a high number of Croats wanted to stay in the country (75% would certainly or probably be in the country in 12 months time) despite the fact that Croatia was seen to be heading in a bad direction (84% agreed). Srdjan Dvornik, Publicist, discussed reasons why Croats might be dissatisfied and also looked at how the survey showed potential for development in several areas.
Croatia’s President-elect says ‘crime will not pay’
January 15th 2010+
On January 10, Ivo Josipovic, a law professor and composer, was elected President of Croatia. He will take office in February. One of Josipovic’s main platforms was his pledge to fight corruption and organised crime and this has obviously appealed to the voters. Indeed, the latest Balkan Monitor figures showed that 92% of Croats believed that there was widespread corruption in business (up from 83% in 2006). This figure was the highest in the Balkans.
On the subject of neighbourly relations in the region, Serbia recently filed a lawsuit against Croatia accusing its government of committing genocide in the 1991-1995 Balkan War. This was in response to a similar suit filed by Croatia against Serbia in 1999, also in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Interestingly, President-elect Josipovic (one of the key figures in Croatia’s original lawsuit) is now saying that there may be a way for both suits to be dropped. This feeling is in line with survey results that showed 51% of Croats saying that neighbourly ties were not strong enough, up from 43% in 2008.
Serbia takes another step along the road
January 15th 2010+
Just before Christmas, Serb President Boris Tadić submitted his country’s application to be granted EU candidate status. This application came at a time when just 50% of Serbs thought that joining the EU would be a good thing. This figure was down from 58% in 2008. One reason could be that Serbs do not feel well informed about the EU: only 44% said they well (or very well) informed about the Union – the lowest figure in the Balkans except for Montenegro (40%). Furthermore, 19% of Serbs thought that the EU was hostile towards their country, a figure that was the highest in the Balkans by far. Despite all this, over two-thirds (69%) said they would say ‘yes’ if a referendum was held about joining the EU.
Croatia – things can only get better
December 23rd 2009+
Croatia’s fifth presidential elections will be held on December 27, 2009. With the incumbent president, Stjepan Mesić, not being eligible to run for office as he has served two consecutive terms, the results could bring surprises.
The latest Gallup Balkan Monitor results showed that 70% of Croats plan to attend the presidential elections; this compares to an official voting figure of 50.57% in the 2005 elections. It looks certain to be a close-run affair as 47% of respondents told the Gallup Balkan Monitor that they did not know (or would not say) who they planned to vote for and no single candidate stood out from the rest in terms of popularity.
The elections will arrive at a time when the survey results showed Croats to be some of the region’s gloomiest citizens. A majority of respondents (57%) said they were dissatisfied with their standard of living – 16 percentage points up from the numbers feeling that way in 2006. Furthermore, many citizens were unhappy about the future; despite being one of the region’s countries closest to EU accession, it had more citizens thinking that their country was going in a bad direction than any other country in the region.
Whatever happens in the election, people will be expecting improvements – at the time of the 2009 survey, Croats’ confidence in their national government was the lowest in the region (just 22% had a lot or some confidence in it). Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor had the lowest approval rating in the region and 85% described the government’s performance as poor – the region’s highest such rating. This contrasted sharply with the feelings about incumbent President Mesić – who had 56% of respondents saying that they had a lot or some confidence in him.
If no candidate obtains over 50% of the votes in the first round of the election, a second round will be held on 10 January 2010.
Fourteen years on from Dayton, the signs are not all good
December 22nd 2009+
Fourteen years after the Dayton Agreement (December 14, 1995), the Balkan Monitor results show that the two entities – the (Muslim-Croat) Federation and Republika Srpska – are still divided. The latest Gallup Balkan Monitor results show that over a third (35%) of Federation citizens now believe that Kosovo’s independence has set a precedent for Bosnia’s future; this is a 12 percentage point increase over 2008. The views of those in Republika Srpska have not changed in the past 12 months, with 43% resolutely thinking that Kosovo’s independence does indeed set such a precedent. So, 14 years on from the Dayton Agreement, almost 4 in 10 people in Bosnia (39%) foresee Bosnia and Herzegovina falling apart, along the lines of Serbia and Kosovo.
Interestingly, more people of both the Federation and Republika Srpska now feel that the international community has been helpful in the past 15-20 years. Almost half (48%) in the Federation feel that way (up three percentage points from 2008) and they are supported by 21% of those in Republika Srpska (+ 3 points). Perhaps this is linked to the feeling that Kosovo’s independence has indeed showed a way forward (or rather, two ways forward) for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As for views about the individual international organisations, people from the Federation are now much more likely to have an opinion than they were in 2006. At that time, roughly one in five would not give an opinion (would not or could not say) on the subject. In 2009, the “don’t know” camp had decreased considerably and many more are now neutral about the international organisations. Overall, though, the EU is most liked, with 56% feeling friendly towards the Union. Hostility has increased towards NATO (13%, up seven percentage points from 2006) and the UN (9%, +5 points). As for the respondents in the Republika Srpska, they are much less friendly towards the international organisations. However, only NATO now attracts more hostility than in 2006 (38%, +3 points). Both the UN and the EU now attract more neutral opinions (51%, +11 points, and 42%, +4 points) respectively. It should also be noted that, as opposed to the Federation, the numbers in the Republika Srpska not giving an opinion (would not or could not say) has actually increased – up to roughly one in five for all three organisations.
Moving from Bosnia to the bigger picture of the Western Balkans, it is perhaps surprising – given the above figures for Bosnia & Herzegovina – that numbers feeling that the international organisations have been helpful in the past 15-20 years are decreasing for the region in total. Forty two percent of respondents across the region now think that the international organisations have been helpful, down four percentage points from 2008. In contrast, 15% feel their influence has been harmful – up 2 points from 2008.
Multi-speed visa liberalisation arrives in the Western Balkans
December 19th 2009+
As of December 19, 2009, citizens of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have been able to travel without a visa to countries of the Schengen area and to those countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus) that respect the Schengen acquis.
This decision has obviously not been welcomed by respondents in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Kosovo and Albania (Croats have already been able to travel freely in the Schengen area). When asked who they blamed for the exclusion from this relaxation of visa restrictions of some Balkan countries, Kosovars blamed the EU (51% said it was the Union’s fault) while Albanians and Bosnians put the blame on their governments and politicians (59% and 51%, respectively).
The survey also showed that close to half of Bosnians (47%) and Kosovars (45%) felt that the decisions on visa liberalisation would create unnecessary divisions across the Western Balkan region. Indeed, there have been media reports that the decisions will treat Muslims unfairly as, for example, Bosnian Croats and Serbs will be able to benefit through their dual nationality, while Bosnian Muslims will have no such freedom. In the same way, Kosovars will not be able to travel freely whereas Serbs can now do so throughout the Schengen area.
Over a third of Bosnians (35%) even felt that visa liberalisation might contribute to the disintegration of BiH. A similar number also thought that the decision to leave out Albania, BiH and Kosovo from the current visa liberalization process was their predominantly Muslim populations; this view was only shared, however, by 29% of Kosovars and 26% of Albanians.
When the survey asked what single biggest assistance the international community could provide to their country, over one-third of respondents in most countries chose travel and visa liberalisation. People in the Bosnian Federation and Albania were especially eager to be able to travel freely: over half of these respondents demanded such help from the international community (54% and 53% respectively). The current rules, however, exclude both these communities from any relaxation of visa restrictions.
Looking at the bigger picture, it is clear that divisions now exist between the various countries of the region in terms of citizens’ ability to travel freely. Returning, therefore, to the Gallup Balkan Monitor results, it should not be forgotten that freer travel was placed number one on the list of expected benefits from EU accession for every country in the Western Balkans.
Discussion on the latest Balkan Monitor survey results draws a large crowd in Brussels
November 18th 2009+
In cooperation with the European Policy Centre (EPC) and the European Fund for the Balkans, the results of the 2009 Balkan Monitor survey were presented by Gallup Europe at a Policy Dialogue entitled “In Europe we trust? Public opinion in the Balkans” on Tuesday 17 November 2009 in Brussels. An attentive audience of around 200 policymakers, academics and journalists heard about the bleak situation in the Western Balkans: people in most countries of the region see their countries moving in a bad direction and are pessimistic about their future living standards. The EPC’s Rosa Balfour chaired an animated panel discussion. While Gallup Europe’s Managing Director Robert Manchin described the survey results as an “early warning” for policymakers, Italy’s Former-Prime Minister Giuliano Amato called for action at EU level and expressed hope that visa liberalisation would be the next step in the Balkan enlargement process instead of the final one. Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev spoke of an imminent “implosion” of Western Balkan societies and called for a rapid EU integration of the region. Serbian journalist and Brussels correspondent Zelijko Pantelic did nothing to lighten the mood; he described the difficult situation for outspoken media in the region and claimed that the situation had been worsening in recent years.
Monitors happy about the way Kosovo elections conducted
November 17th 2009+
International observers who monitored the Kosovo elections have said that they met “many” international standards. Darko Aleksov, head of the ENEMO (European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations) mission said “The municipal and mayoral elections in the Republic of Kosovo met many of the international standards for elections”. ENEMO deployed more than 100 observers throughout Kosovo during the vote. Aleksov added that “the campaign was conducted in a peaceful and dynamic manner only disturbed by isolated cases of misconduct in its last week.”
When the latest Gallup Balkan Monitor poll asked about previous elections, 24% of Kosovo Serbs said they had voted compared to 71% of Kosovo Albanians. Now, media reports say that in some areas, “turnout by ethnic Serbs appeared to be close to zero” (Sofia Echo). In terms of the honesty of elections, the poll showed that two-thirds (65%) of Kosovo Albanians thought that elections were conducted with (a lot or some) honesty; the corresponding figure for Kosovo Serbs was 21%. No Kosovo Serbs thought that elections were undertaken with a lot of honesty. As for whether people should vote in elections in order to be a good Kosovo national, almost two-thirds of Kosovo Albanians agreed with that statement, while over 70% of Kosovo Serbs thought that it was either not essential or that it did not matter.
Event and Public Release: In Europe we trust? Public opinion in the Balkans
November 16th 2009+
The European Policy Centre, in cooperation with the European Fund for the Balkans, is hosting a Policy Dialogue on “In Europe we trust? Public opinion in the Balkans” (see here for the programme of the event) on Tuesday 17 November 2009 in Brussels. The latest results of the Gallup Balkan Monitor will be released and presented by Robert Manchin on this occasion. Please register directly with the EPC by faxing the reply form completed.
In Europe we trust? Public opinion in the Balkans
November 10th 2009+
The European Policy Centre, in cooperation with the European Fund for the Balkans, is hosting a Policy Dialogue on “In Europe we trust? Public opinion in the Balkans” on Tuesday 17 November 2009 – 14.00 at the Résidence Palace (call 02 734 54 18 for details). The latest results of the Gallup Balkan Monitor public opinion surveys find that while citizens in the Western Balkans support accession to the EU, they are not inspired by their own national governments and political parties. What these findings say about the prospects for the EU accession process and political developments in the region will be discussed at the “Policy Dialogue” event. With Robert Manchin, CEO of Gallup Europe, Giuliano Amato, former Prime Minister of Italy and former Chairman of the International Commission on the Balkans, Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, and Zeljko Pantelic, Journalist, Dnevnik newspaper correspondent in Brussels. The dialogue will be chaired by Rosa Balfour, EPC Senior Policy Analyst.
Balkan residents have high hopes for the EU’s involvement
September 18th 2009+
The GBM’s Focus On: EU Perceptions – the second in the series – shows that although there is a high level of support for the EU, it is slowly decreasing. BiH has seen the strongest drop, with 48% of its respondents considering EU accession to be “a good thing” – a drop of 18 percentage points. The report also illustrates that Albania and Kosovo not only have the highest levels of support for EU accession, but that the EU is also among the most trusted institutions in those countries. Furthermore, this latest ‘Focus’ report reveals that people in all of the Western Balkans countries – except for Croatia – have high expectations about the EU’s reforming powers; they believe that EU integration will bring improvements in most societal domains, such as the rule of law, security and national welfare. The full report can be found here.
Full house for Gallup event on the impact of migration
June 30th 2009+
With “visa liberalisation” being firmly on the Commission’s agenda for July, Gallup Europe hosted an event, on 25 June, that examined the impact of migration on the Western Balkans and its citizens. A full house of policymakers, journalists and analysts were at Gallup House in Brussels to hear Robert Manchin, Gallup Europe’s Managing Director, present a range of results and conclusions from the Gallup Balkan Monitor surveys. Topics covered included:
- the high rates of migration within the Albanian communities in the Balkans, coupled with high numbers of Albanian returnees.
- the dissatisfaction with their personal life felt by many people in the Western Balkans.
- discontent felt particularly by the under-25s with one-third saying that, given the choice, they would leave the region.
- half of those Bosnians who indicted a wish to migrate saying they would not be returning.
The event was attended by the Bosnian Head of Mission to the EU and a number of Commission officials with responsibilities in the region. Click here to see an interview that Manchin gave to South East Europe TV (SEETV) after the event.
Many of the results highlighted in Manchin’s presentation can be found in the GBM’s Focus On Migration. This is the second in a series of reports looking at the major issues that impact the Western Balkans. The report concluded that mass migration is unlikely and that, across the Western Balkans, the free movement of people between countries is seen as one of the most important pre-requisites to peace and development: 85% of people find it to be necessary. Only putting an end to corruption was mentioned more frequently. The full report can be found here and the presentation here.
Release of “Western Balkans: How residents view their local authorities”
April 23rd 2009+
The brochure “Western Balkans: How residents view their local authorities” shows the results of a collaboration between the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), Gallup and the Network of Associations of Local Authorities in South Eastern Europe (NALAS). It summarises findings relevant to local governments in the Western Balkans, collected in the latest wave of the Gallup Balkan Monitor. This new publication reveals some of the survey’s main findings; such as which cities are considered to be the best for starting a business and that almost three-quarters (72%) of people in the Western Balkans are satisfied with their towns. A report with a more detailed analysis of the results is scheduled for publication in the autumn. See here for more details.
The road show team generate interest in Brussels
April 2nd 2009+
Following the successful GBM road show, the team made presentations to staff of the European Commssion’s Enlargement Directorate-General and the EU Council of Ministers’ working group that assembles Balkan experts from all member states. The GBM’s strength is that it clarifies a complex picture and Gallup’s Robert Manchin pointed out that the first survey in 1989 had already indicated regional and ethnic diversity. With a focus on how the Western Balkan residents perceived Brussels, the EU and other international actors, both presentations led to many questions about the data and the survey methodology. In conclusion, the sessions were thought to be extremely useful for the work of both DG Enlargement and the Council’s Working Group. With the focus being on such a constantly changing region, it is certain that many more such sessions will be needed… and appreciated.
Kosovars’ optimism shines through the gloom
March 24th 2009+
The spotlight was on Kosovars’ opinions about the present and the future when the Gallup Balkan Monitor Roadshow reached Prishtina at the end of March. With the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s Besa Luzha moderating, the audience heard that Kosovo’s citizens are the most optimistic in the region. Gallup Europe CEO Robert Manchin presented survey results that showed 59% of all Kosovars thinking that economic conditions are improving and over half of respondents (53%) seeing the government’s performance as positive. These figures tend to show one side of the picture, however; only 10% of Kosovo Serbs think things are improving and just 1% are happy with the government.
As for peaceful co-existence, while roughly three-quarters of Kosovan Albanians think they could live peacefully with the Serbs, only 17% of Serbs feel they could co-exist with the Kosovo Albanians. During the debate, the Kosovo Foundation for Civil Society’s Iliriana Kaçaniku said that if you compared the European Commission’s negative progress reports in 2007 and 2008 with the positive results of the survey, you had to conclude that public opinion is not well informed about economic and political developments in the country. Also on the panel were Ylli Hoxa from the Foreign Policy Club and Valdete Idrizi from Community Building Mitrovica.
Montenegrins too easily satisfied?
March 23rd 2009+
Despite “Montenegro: country of opportunities” being the title of the GBM roadshow event in Podgorica, several panellists had the impression that its citizens are too easily satisfied with life. Gallup’s Robert Manchin introduced the survey results, highlighting the fact that Montenegrins were generally optimistic, both in their views about the government’s performance and also about the country’s accession to the EU. However, noting the tolerance levels towards “corruption”, he reasoned that Montenegrins appear to feel that their government can do whatever it wants as long as the citizens are allowed the same level of latitude. The Institute of Alternative’s Stevo Muk argued that Montenegrins are losing out in the post-independence transition period. He felt they are too tolerant of inefficiencies – of all kinds – as they have not sufficiently defined their new status; they are leaning towards a consumer society but are not interested in defining the country’s future path. Despite the survey showing citizens to be relatively satisfied with life, “Vijesti” editor Nedjeljko Rudovic, could not understand that finding as households needed two salaries in order to be able to afford basic shopping for the week. He was also surprised that the majority trusted the government when almost half thought it was not doing enough to fight organised crime. Earlier Manchin had stated that Montenegrins have the highest level of tolerance (53%) towards citizens offering small gifts (to, for example, doctors or civil servants) in order to get things done. Focusing on that finding, the Center for Monitoring’s Zlatko Vujevic suggested a regular survey of attitudes towards corruption.
Deputy Prime Minister, Gordana Djurovic, however, saw lots of positives in the survey. She noted the high level of optimism in the country – since independence – and stressed the country’s “European perspective” shown in the results. Djurovic therefore asked for diplomatic representatives to report this level of “European” optimism to the institutions in Brussels.
Bosnians desperate for change
March 13th 2009+
With its title being “Tired of it all: BiH’s citizens are desperate for change”, the GBM roadshow stop in Sarajevo was never going to be plain sailing. After the EFB’s executive director Hedvig Morvai Horvat had introduced the panel, Gallup analyst Andrzej Pyrka presented the GBM results for BiH including the finding that its residents are among the least satisfied in the Western Balkans (61% see the country going in a bad direction and two-thirds feel the government is performing badly). On the positive side, fewer are migrating (61% are considering that step, down from 74% in 2006) and the citizens want greater cooperation between the Balkan countries. Pyrka also highlighted the dramatic disparity in views between the two BiH entities: Republika Srpska and the Federation.
On the panel, the University of Sarajevo’s Professor Zdravko Grebo questioned the survey’s reliability (as he felt people are not honest when questioned in such a situation) and the Directorate for European Integration’s Nedeljko Masleša thought domestic problems were slowing the EU accession process. UCL’s Neven Andjelić could see the “legacy of war” in the results and blamed the media for its failure to deliver the EU’s message to the BiH people. He also thought, however, that the EU was not sufficiently communicating the ideas behind the European project. With the EU, the media and the pollsters seemingly under attack from the panel, it looked like the BiH citizens would remain “desperate for change” for some time to come.
Gallup Balkan Monitor in the news
March 13th 2009+
On the eve of Kosovo’s first birthday, the UK’s leading news magazine, The Economist, featured an article arguing that the ex-Serb province has confounded the sceptics by avoiding a new round of violence and an exodus of the Serb minority. Although the article acknowledged that Kosovo remained “poor” and had a “weak administration”, The Economist argued that the Kosovars were far from downcast. For evidence, it pointed to the recent survey by the European Fund for the Balkans and Gallup (the Gallup Balkan Monitor) that had shown that, among seven western Balkan ountries, Kosovo’s people were the most satisfied.
Read the full article. (external)
Macedonians dissatisfied with life and fearing armed conflict
February 17th 2009+
Macedonia was in the spotlight at the latest Gallup Balkan Monitor event – “Macedonia: Between hope and reality” – held in Skopje on March 17 and moderated by Forum CSRD’s Gordon Georgiev. The survey results, presented by Gallup Europe Research Analyst Andrzej Pyrka, showed that almost half (46%) of the country’s residents are dissatisfied with their lives. This made Macedonia the country with the highest number of discontented citizens, just ahead of Serbia (42%) and BiH (38%). Macedonians also fear a new armed conflict in the region; with one in three citizens being concerned about an outbreak of violence, it is the only country in the Western Balkans where more than a quarter of the population feel that way.
During the panel debate, Professor Abdulmenaf Bexheti of the Southeast European University (SEEU) pointed out that while Macedonians were relatively satisfied with their government (47%), they were not happy about the state of the economy (22%). He felt that this could be due to the government’s success at promoting its own image. On the subject of the EU, the Institute for Democracy’s Vladimir Misev argued that the widespread support for membership (66%) was not due to any particular understanding about the Union but was rather based on either a respondent’s lack of knowledge or lack of firm feelings on the matter.
On the issue of the country’s name change to allow NATO and EU membership, the survey showed that only 3% of ethnic Macedonians agreed as opposed to 69% of ethnic Albanian respondents. Professor Bexhati and the SEEU’s Professor Jeton Shasivari both criticised the government’s efforts to protect the country’s name, referring to this as a “fetish” created by local politicians and intellectuals. Returning to the Macedonians’ dissatisfaction with life, the survey showed that this is even higher among native Macedonians (49%) than Macedonian Albanians (33%). Panellists referred to this as a “paradox” as unemployment is higher among the latter.
Croats uncertain about EU membership
February 6th 2009+
Speaking in Zagreb at a Gallup Balkan Monitor event – “Croatia: Tired of EU Reforms?” on February 6, Gallup Europe Managing Director Robert Manchin said Croatia’s support for the EU was fading. He felt this was typical for countries before EU accession as it was the impact of “painful reforms.” Presenting the survey results, Manchin explained that Croats identified strongly with their country, less so with Europe and very little with the Balkans. He felt that Croats tended to see their future partners as being in western Europe.
Hedvig Morvai Horvat, the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) Executive Director explained the aims of the joint EFB/Gallup project ahead of a lively panel debate. Croatia’s State Secretary for European Integration Davor Bozinovic argued that Croatia had time to complete the final three negotiating chapters – the administration of justice, fundamental rights and market competition – while Vesna Pusic, chairperson of the national committee for monitoring accession negotiations felt that reform of the judiciary was the priority.
Croats themselves, however, do not seem to be so infatuated with the EU as they once were. The Gallup Balkan Monitor survey results showed that approximately equal numbers of Croats supported and opposed membership (29% and 26%, respectively), while almost 4 in 10 remained firmly on the fence (38% could not decide). Also speaking at the event, one of the series being held throughout the Western Balkans, Zarko Puhovski, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, doubted the warmth of Brussels’ welcome for Croatia: the country cared more about entering the EU than the Union did about admitting Croatia. The survey actually showed that less than half of Croats felt they would be welcomed by the EU (46%), as opposed to 82% of Kosovo respondents and 55% of Serbs.
Manchin said it was evident that Croatia was a leader in regional EU integration, even though Slovenia was now being perceived as being more hostile. Pollsters have reasoned that this is due to the ongoing maritime border dispute sapping respondent’s enthusiasm. Summing up, Manchin called on European institutions to take responsibility if indeed they wanted to support the integration of the Balkan states in the EU.
Serbs want to take a more positive view
December 22nd 2008+
The GBM’s first “official” stop was in Belgrade, with the format following what was to become a familiar pattern: the European Fund for the Balkans’ (EFB’s) executive director Hedvig Morvai Horvat introducing the panel, followed by a member of the Gallup team presenting the GBM results. The highlight in Serbia was the excellent media coverage, typified by BLIC and Radio Srbija. There were also five TV crews present, including the major Serb broadcaster – Pink TV.
After the results presentation by Gallup’s Andrzej Pyrka, local political analyst Milan Nikolić argued that the results painted a realistic picture of the Western Balkans and that he foresaw over a quarter of million Serbs losing their jobs in 2009. Nikolić was critical of the media, as he felt they focused on scandals rather than the key issues. Regional Cooperation Council Head Jelica Minic claimed that the financial crisis partly accounted for the pessimistic survey results and that it would lead to the countries of the region showing more cooperation. She could find little support for her view, however. The Deputy Director of the Serbian EU Integration Office, Srđan Majstorović, stated that Commission surveys gave a more positive view of the situation and that the Serb residents were supportive of the accession reforms.
Questions from the floor showed a desire for more positive indicators (and hence new questions in the next wave), such as “what has been achieved in the past years?” and “what makes people stay in the country?” Food for thought then for the GBM team as moved to Zagreb.
Experts gather to hear GBM survey results
December 18th 2008+
The GBM’s road show’s first port of call was an “Expert Seminar” in Istanbul, an event jointly organised by the CEP, the Slovenian government agency for Balkan development, and Istanbul Kültür Üniversitesi. Attended by representatives of the business world, trade ministries and supra-national organisations (the European Commission, EFTA, CEFTA, the OECD etc.), the mood of the event was that the region urgently needed more trade and cooperation between the Balkan neighbours. The economic and political situations, and hence confidence on the ground, were all seen to be deteriorating. The overall impression of the GBM team, who presented the survey results, was that they fully supported the need for more collaboration between the countries of the Western Balkans.
The Gallup Balkan Monitor’s launch generates great interest in Brussels
November 20th 2008+
It was standing room only at the launch of the Gallup Balkan Monitor at the Résidence Palace in Brussels. Over 200 people heard a lively debate that touched on many of the findings of the report.
Chaired by EPC Communications Director Jacki Davis, the debate gave a flavor of the mass of information contained in the Western Balkans survey. With barely a third of Croats considering EU accession to be “a good thing,” Gallup Managing Director Robert Manchin pointed out that Croats were particularly attached to their country. For his part, Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister said the people of the Western Balkans had to be offered something concrete in return for carrying out the EU-required reforms. Among many suggestions was a relaxation of the EU’s visa policies towards the western Balkan countries. The panel also included the leading Kosovo daily – Koha Ditore – editor, Veton Surroi and Serbia’s former Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic.
Prior to the event, Knut Neumayer, Programme Director of ERSTE Foundation (one of the partner foundations in the European Fund for the Balkans), presented the 2008 GBM Summary of Findings to Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.
High-level event at the EPC coincides with the launch of the Gallup Balkan Monitor
November 17th 2008+
The Gallup Balkan Monitor’s poll results and implications were discussed by a distinguished panel at the Résidence Palace, Brussels (November 17). The event, entitled “Public opinion in the Balkans – between hope and disenchantment”, examined the Monitor’s findings on how citizens feel about EU accession, good governance, Kosovo’s independence and the Balkan citizens’ desire to emigrate. The panel included Gallup Europe Managing Director Robert Manchin, former Prime Minister of Italy and former Chairman of the International Commission on the Balkans Giuliano Amato, Editor of the leading Kosovo daily newspaper Koha Ditore, Veton Surroi and Serbia’s former Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic. The dialogue, organised by the European Policy Centre (EPC), in cooperation with the European Fund for the Balkans, was chaired by EPC Communications Director Jacki Davis.
- 29% of Macedonians feel there could be another war in the region
- 78% in Croatia are disappointed by the fight against crime
- 70% of Macedonian Albanians support the Ohrid Agreement
- 69% in Republika Srpska dislike Kosovo’s independence
- 47% of Serb respondents think Karadzic is innocent
- 72% of Kosovo Albanians can imagine life with Serbs
- 63% of Montenegrin respondents trust their government
- 32% of Albanians had to bribe an official in the year prior to the survey
- 56% of Albanians urgently need travel and visa facilitation
- 29% of Albanians praise their government’s fight against crime