World

Kosovo's Future: Poll Results Offer Little Hope for Consensus

by Zsolt Nyiri, Ph.D.
Regional Research Director for Europe, Gallup World Poll

Majority of Serbs think an independent Kosovo will destabilize the region and 16% think there will be another war; Kosovar Albanians disagree

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- On Monday, July 16, Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku again threatened to unilaterally declare independence for his country. Ceku's latest warning comes after a long period during which several rounds of negotiations at the U.N. Security Council failed to clarify Kosovo's political status. Kosovo, the breakaway Serbian province that has been administered by the U.N. since 1999, is considered by Serbs to be the heartland of the Serbian nation despite the fact that 95% of its residents are ethnic Albanians. Kosovar Albanians consider independence to be non-negotiable, but the solution has to be one that is acceptable to Serbs as well.

The future of Kosovo's two million residents is now a heated international debate. Russia will not accept a U.N. resolution that would give Kosovo independence, supporting its close ally, Serbia, and also fearing the move would establish a precedent for separatist groups in the former Soviet states. At the same time, the United States and most European countries clearly favor independence -- but not necessarily via a unilateral declaration.

How do people of Kosovo and Serbia feel about Kosovo's independence and its possible effect on the region? Gallup World Poll data from earlier this year reveal that the views of Serbs -- both those living in Kosovo and those living elsewhere in Serbia -- clash with those of Kosovar Albanians. The majority of Serbians, 59%, say they think an independent Kosovo will destabilize the Balkan region, while Serbs in Kosovo are, at 75%, even more likely to feel this way. In sharp contrast, only 8% of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority share that view, while three in four (76%) disagree.

The least desirable outcome of the current situation is another war in Kosovo. Serbs are more likely than Kosovar Albanians to predict such a war; among Serbians, 16% feel that there will be another war in Kosovo and a similar percentage of Kosovar Serbs (15%) fear the same. Kosovar Albanians, however, are less than half as likely to think that there will be another war in Kosovo (7%).

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted in February 2007 with nationally representative samples of residents aged 15 and older in each country. 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 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.

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