Serbians want reforms, dislike "political terms for EU"

The support of Serbian citizens for the country's EU accession has dropped to the lowest level recorded in the last decade and now totals 41 percent.

Source: Tanjug

The results of the poll - already reported earlier this week - were officially presented on Thursday in Belgrade.

The survey was carried out in December 2012 and was commissioned by the Government Office for European Integration.

In case of a referendum, 31 percent of the people polled would vote against EU accession, while the number of undecided has also risen significantly.

An overwhelming majority of 66 percent of respondents support reforms in the country, but do not necessarily tie these to the European integration process.

Also, 62 percent support solving problems in Belgrade's relations with Priština regardless of the EU's expectations.

Head of the Government European Integration Office Milan Pajević addressed reporters today to offer his comments on the poll's results, and stated that he believed the main reasons for the drop in support for EU accession were recent verdicts of the Hague Tribunal - acquitting Croats and Albanians accused of committing war crimes against Serbs - the Kosovo issue, and the crisis within the EU.

"The data shows the people are sensitive to everything they perceive as political terms for membership, such as resolving relations with Priština, while at the same time highly appreciating the need to reform everyday life in a way supported by European regulations and practice," Pajević said.

The poll shows that in the second half of 2012, the enthusiasm for EU integration dropped by as much as eight percent compared to June, while the number of those who are expressly opposed to the idea rose by six percent.

Among those opposing accession, 14 percent say that membership would do Serbia more harm than good, 13 percent say their opinion is a result of pressures and blackmails directed at Serbia from the EU, 13 percent are indignant about the fact some EU member countries were involved in the bombing of Serbia, 11 percent do not like the EU, and nine percent believe living standards in Serbia would deteriorate.

Pajević believes that even though public perception of the EU has somewhat changed over the last six months, the citizens are showing maturity when it comes to understanding the importance of reforms, which should serve as a guideline to the government to continue the process.

Respondents said the key areas in need of reform are the fight against corruption (45 percent) and judiciary reform (22 percent).

Prior to this poll, a sharp fall in EU enthusiasm was seen in a September 2011 survey which followed German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Belgrade, when 46 percent of those polled said they supported EU integration, while 37 percent were against.

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