A majority of Serbs think an independent Kosovo will destabilize the region
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "From this day onwards, Kosovo is proud, independent and free," Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci announced in a televised address on Sunday. However, Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica immediately denounced the proclamation. While Kosovar Albanians have celebrated Kosovo's declaration of independence, ethnic Serbs throughout the region have since led mass protests against an independent Kosovo.
For the ethnic Albanians who make up more than 90% of the population of Kosovo, nothing less than a fully independent Kosovo is acceptable. When Gallup polled in Kosovo last year, 99% of Kosovar Albanians expressed a preference for a fully independent state within its present borders. Three in four (77%) Kosovar Serbs wanted Kosovo to remain a Serbian province with broad autonomy, while 13% of Kosovar Serbs preferred that Kosovo be partitioned between Serbia and an independent state.
Gallup Poll results show residents in the region expect instability to follow Kosovo's declaration. Three in four Serbs living in Kosovo and 59% of Serbs living in Serbia said an independent Kosovo would destabilize the region, while 76% of Albanians living in Kosovo disagreed.
However, when respondents were asked whether there would be another war in Kosovo, only 15% of Kosovar Serbs, 16% of Serbs, and 7% of Kosovar Albanians believed there would be. Eighty percent of Kosovar Albanians disagreed with the statement: "There will be another war in Kosovo" while 54% of Serbians and 44% of Kosovar Serbs said the same. Interestingly, roughly 4 in 10 Kosovar Serbs (41%) and 30% of Serbs said they didn't know whether there would be another war in Kosovo, while only 13% of Kosovar Albanians said they did not know.
Serbia is not the only country to refuse Kosovo's independent status. In addition to Russia, which fears that Kosovo will set a precedent for other separatist movements, at least six European Union member countries (Spain, Romania, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, and Slovakia) are not expected to support the recognition of an independent Kosovo. On Sunday, Russia called an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss Kosovo. China, like Russia, is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and voiced its concerns about an independent Kosovo. Conversely, the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and many other European countries have already recognized Kosovo as an independent state.
In response to Kosovo's contentious unilateral declaration of independence, Kostunica warned Sunday in a televised address that the people of Serbia would "come together and show the whole world that [they] do not acknowledge the creation of a false state in [their] territory. . . . As long as the Serb people exist, Kosovo will be Serbian."
Results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted in December 2006 and January 2007 with nationally representative samples of residents aged 15 and older in Serbia and Kosovo. For results based on the sample of 1,509 Serbs, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. For results based on the sample of 714 Kosovar Albanians, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±4 percentage points. For results based on the sample of 257 Kosovar Serbs, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±7 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.