Over the past four years there has been a clear rise in the level of mistrust and pessimism among the Kosovo Serb community, where 92.6% of respondents rate the overall situation as bad. This and other results from the Trend Analysis 2019: Attitudes of the Serb Community in Kosovo were presented during a conference held today in Pristina.
After a similar presentation was held in North Mitrovica, the general public in Pristina had the opportunity to find out more about the results of the research conducted.
The research was carried out between the 15th of July and the 5th of September of this year by NGO Aktiv in cooperation with RTIV Kim, and surveyed a total of 540 people, with 270 respondents coming from the north and 270 from south of the River Ibar, with a particular focus placed on Northern Kosovo, Gracanica, Strpce and Kosovsko Pomoravlje.
Some of the main research findings include 92% of respondents believing that general trends in Kosovo do not benefit and are discouraging for the Kosovo Serb community, three-fourths of respondents saying that they do not feel free to express their opinions, and over half of Serbs claiming that they do not see themselves in Kosovo in the next five years.
Mistrust and Pessimism
The research was presented to the audience by the Executive Director of NGO Aktiv, Midorag Milićević, who drew special attention to a number of key results.
“Looking and trends over the past four years, we see a clear rise in the level of mistrust and pessimism among the Kosovo Serb community, where 92.6% of respondents rate the overall situation as bad, which does not inspire any degree of optimism that average people, who were the subject of this research, have much hope at all in a brighter future in Kosovo” said Milićević, later adding that the economy and unemployment were always dominant themes.
Whom do Serbs trust?
The question for all politicians and political representatives in Kosovo who come from the ranks of the Kosovo Serb community, is how much they are trusted by their constituents.
“As you can see, a mere 12% of respondents overall have confidence in politicians. When it comes to individuals, we find a level of (mistrust) that’s above 80%” said Milićević.
An Accurate Reflection
Isak Vorgučić, Director of RTV Kim, stated that whether or not trends grow or fall from year-to-year, it can be seen from this year’s analysis that these fluctuations are not particularly pronounced and that, in general, they are reflective of the state of affairs or events that are connected with the period of time when the surveys were conducted.
Vorgučić noted that “It can be assumed very precisely what exactly influenced people to place greater emphasis on economy one year, and then on security, crime and corruption the next. These analyses reflect the state of affairs as they are. It’s not something that we think about on a daily basis, but when it’s put on paper and reflected on, then it actually seems quite frightening.”
Journalist and Director of the Media Center in Čaglavica, Budimir Ničić, stated that, in terms of the socio-political situation in Kosovo, the results may be alarming, but they are not surprising. He is amazed, as he said, by the lack of reaction from politicians.
“You presented the results of this research a week ago in North Mitrovica, and I have heard absolutely no reaction, especially from politicians, who are not only a particular focus of this research but who are also, in a way, chiefly responsible for the situation that we currently find ourselves in” said Ničić.
“Every fourth Serb is free to express their opinion”
Isak Vorgučić said that he was most struck by the lack of freedom of expression, where if one reads the data gleaned from the analysis in a different manner, only every fourth Serb in Kosovo is free to express their opinions.
“The situation in Belgrade often reflects on Serbs from Kosovo, we have a situation in Belgrade, where practically speaking, there is one-party rule and people aren’t free to express their opinions and there’s no free media. Kosovo Serbs are lucky enough to have some independent media outlets, productions and portals that they can follow, so there exists are fairly well-developed culture of following independent media” said Vorgučić.
When it comes to the media, nearly half of respondents (46.9%) believe that independent thought and critical thinking are not sufficiently represented in outlets in Kosovo. Budimir Ničić felt that this was a surprisingly positive result, especially when taking into consideration the conditions in which the Serb-majority media operates.
“We can point a finger to an international factor since fewer funds are set aside for Serbian media, and we know the Serbian media cannot survive any other way” stated Ničić.
The Trend Analysis 2019: Attitudes of the Serb Community in Kosovo research was carried out with the support of the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS) and is available in full on the CEC website. This report will also be presented in Belgrade by the end of this year.