‘Grand Finale’ between Kosovo and Serbia

‘Grand Finale’ between Kosovo and Serbia

The aim of this survey was to understand the perceptions and attitudes of citizens (Vox Populi) regarding the scenarios on the ‘grand finale’ between Kosovo and Serbia. A total of 1110 respondents in our survey (90% Albanians, 9% Serbs and 1% from other ethnic groups) made our sample nationally representative of the Kosovo population.

In this survey, simple proportional sampling was used for each municipality, based on municipality population size. The questionnaire consisted of open and closed-ended questions. In order to check the work of interviewers during data collection, about 15% (a total of 150 respondents) were re-interviewed. This back-check was done through phone interviews and field visits. As a check, the respondents were asked about 5 questions based on the original interview. The checklist served as a tool of compliance review with the random principles of locality, starting point, house unit, and the principle of selection of the respondent. Responses from the first and the second interview were compared. In addition to the usual screening process, a logical check of the filled-in questionnaires was carried out. The 95% error margin of estimates based on the full sample is approximately +/-3 percentage points. However, confidence intervals for estimates based on subsets of the sample, such as the Serb sample of 100 respondents, will be considerably larger.

In terms of the results, in the subsequent paragraphs we present the findings on the following matters/issues:

i) halting or not halting the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia;

ii) Kosovo’s red lines in relation to the final stage of the dialogue;

iii) in the event of a final deal between Kosovo and Serbia, should Kosovo seek to join Albania; and

iv) the perception of Kosovo’s citizens related to three scenarios for an eventual deal between Kosovo and Serbia.

The first group of findings shows that the majority of the Kosovo population is against halting the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Overall, 62% of all the respondents do not agree with halting the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Both Kosovo Albanians and

Serbs agree that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia should continue. There is slightly less support among Serbs for continuing the dialogue, and a significant number of the Serb sample did not have a view on this question (27%). 63% among Albanians and 54% among Serbs either ‘strongly disagree’ or ‘somewhat disagree’ with halting the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

The second group of findings focuses on Kosovo’s red lines in relation to the final stage of the dialogue. These are the results:

* Gazivoda lake should remain within Kosovo’s territory (96% of Albanian versus 5% of the Serbian sample);

* Trepça should remain part of Kosovo (99% of Albanian versus 9% of the Serbian sample)

* Presevo valley should join Kosovo (69% of Albanian versus 0% of the Serbian sample);

* Presevo valley should remain part of Serbia (13% of Albanian versus 84% of the Serbian sample);

* The North of Kosovo (Zveçan, parts of Zubin Potok and Leposaviç) should not join Serbia (91% of Albanian versus 10% of the Serbian sample).

The third group of the findings focused on the issue whether Kosovo should seek to join Albania (in the event of a final deal between Kosovo and Serbia). In this context, the opinion is divided with, overall, 43% supporting the idea that Kosovo should seek unification with Albania in the event that it receives de facto and de jure recognition from Serbia and with 50% rejecting the idea. However, 49% among Albanians and 76% among Serbs disagree with the option that Kosovo should seek unification with Albania in the event that it receives de facto and de jure recognition from Serbia.

The fourth and final group of the findings is linked with the perception and preferences of Kosovo’s citizens related to three alternative scenarios for an eventual deal between Kosovo and Serbia.

Thus, regarding the first scenario – the status quo – only a small number of participants (around 15%) responded with either ‘very much satisfied’ or ‘somewhat satisfied’ about the current status quo between Kosovo and Serbia. Separate analysis of the Albanian and Serbian samples reveals a somewhat different pattern of responses. In this sense, 82% among Albanians compared to 50% among Serbs are either ‘not at all satisfied’ or ‘very little satisfied’ with the current status quo between Kosovo and Serbia.

As to the second scenario – granting executive powers for the Kosovo Serb Association/community’ provided that in return Serbia provides de facto recognition to Kosovo – there is even less support than for the first scenario. Only 10% among respondents responded with either ‘strongly agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’ with the second scenario. Again, there is weak support among Kosovo Albanians (9%) and Serbs (16%) to grant executive powers to the Kosovo Serb association/community provided that in return Serbia provides de facto recognition to Kosovo.

Regarding the third scenario – ‘de-facto and de-jure recognition of Kosovo’s statehood from Serbia, which would include border adjustment/new territorial arrangements between Kosovo and Serbia’, the following findings were obtained: There is a somewhat similar, but very small support (12% of Albanians and 5% of Serbs) towards border adjustment scenario-variant in return for Serbia providing de facto and de jure recognition to Kosovo. However, compared to other scenarios-variants, there is more support among the Albanian population (30%) and roughly similar support among Serbs (27%) for border adjustment which in return would result in the global recognition of Kosovo and opening the path for UN membership.

Regarding the three scenarios, a brief comparative analysis on the interpretation of the results generates the following picture: there is little support among respondents (16% responded with either ‘very much satisfied’ or ‘somewhat satisfied’) for the continuation of the status quo (scenario 1) and even less (10% responded with either ‘strongly agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’) about granting executive powers for the Kosovo Serb Association/community provided that in return Serbia provides de facto recognition to Kosovo (scenario 2). However, there is more support (30% of respondents responded with either ‘definitely should’ or ‘should’) regarding the border adjustment which would result in the global recognition of Kosovo and open the path for UN membership (scenario 3).

A comparative evaluation between Albanians and Serbs related to the three scenarios engenders the subsequent findings: A small number of Albanian respondents (14%) and more Serbs (29%) expressed their satisfaction with the current status quo between Kosovo and Serbia (scenario 1). Similarly, 9% among Albanians and 16% among Serbs expressed their agreement with granting extended executive powers for the Kosovo Serb Association/community provided that in return Serbia provides de facto recognition to Kosovo (scenario 2). In contrast to the previous two scenarios, 30% among Albanians, but similarly to scenario one, 27% among Serbs supports border adjustment which would result in the global recognition of Kosovo and opened the path for UN membership (scenario 3).

Overall, it can be concluded that public opinion is inconsistent and divided with contradictory positions. While question wording can affect the precise percentages favoring or opposing particular options, we should conclude that the Serb and Albanian populations of Kosovo speak with somewhat different voices with respect to their red lines and preferred scenarios, but with one voice on the need to continue the dialogue.

Last but not least, it can be noted that there is no substantial majority support among the Kosovo majority community (Albanians) for any of the three scenarios. This points to the fact that, if any ‘grand finale’ deal is to be acceptable by the majority of the vox populi in Kosovo, it should bring something stable, substantial and functional to Kosovo, otherwise it is doomed to fail./Ibna/