«NATIONALISM AND PUBLIC OPINION ON EU INTEGRATION: THE CASE OF SERBIA Eline Berghuis- van Westering May 2012 NATIONALISM AND PUBLIC OPINION ON EU ...»
NATIONALISM AND PUBLIC OPINION ON EU INTEGRATION:
THE CASE OF SERBIA
Eline Berghuis- van Westering
NATIONALISM AND PUBLIC OPINION ON EU INTEGRATION: THE CASE OF SERBIA
NATIONALISM AND PUBLIC OPINION ON EU INTEGRATION:
THE CASE OF SERBIA
Master thesis Conflicts, Territories and Identities Author: Eline Berghuis- van Westering Student number: 4075897 Supervisor: Dr. W.M. Verkoren Second supervisor: Prof. Dr. H.J. van Houtum University of Nijmegen 29 May 2012
Photos on the title page:
1. A man holding a sign which reads: ‘We don’t want into EU’, during a protest against Serbia’s EU integration on 11 October 2011. A few days before the European Commission announced they would postpone the decision of whether Serbia would be granted candidacy, conditioning Serbia first to make more progress in the dialogue with Kosovo.
2. Former Serbian President Boris Tadic together with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso at a press conference after talks in Brussels on 28 February 2012. A few days later Serbia received the news they were granted EU candidacy.
-2E. BERGHUIS- VAN WESTERING Preface This thesis has been written as part of the master specialisation programme ‘Conflicts, Territories, and Identities’ of Human Geography at the Radboud University of Nijmegen.
The first exploratory phase of my thesis took place in Belgrade, where I conducted a three month internship from April till July 2011 at the Netherlands Embassy. Through this internship and the people I met here, I was able to get familiar with Serbia and learn a lot about the dynamics in this country. I thank the Embassy staff, and in particular my supervisors Tsjeard Hoekstra and Laurent Stokvis, for the instructive and wonderful time I was able to have here.
Back in the Netherlands, the actual writing started, which was not always an easy task. I thank my friends who supported me in this process through their listening, encouragement and sometimes just a simple coffee- or lunch break. I also thank my supervisor Willemijn Verkoren, without whom I would not have been able to deliver such a consistent research. Thank you for your clear and constructive comments and rapid responses.
The finishing of my thesis also marks the end of my period as a student. I am thankful for having had the opportunity to study and develop myself inside and outside the university. I thank my parents who have always supported me in this – not only with financial means. Above all, I thank Dion, who even became my husband during the writing of this thesis. You have witnessed my ups and downs through all of this and I know you must be almost as relieved as I am, that I finished this thesis today. Thank you for your patience, advice and encouragement.
Eline Berghuis- van Westering Utrecht, 29 May 2012
Table of contents List of abbreviations
Chapter 3: Serbian nationalism
List of abbreviations DS Democratic Party DSS Democratic Party of Serbia EC European Community EU European Union ICTY International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia IMF International Monetary Fund KFOR Kosovo Force KLA Kosovo Liberation Army LDP Liberal Democratic Party NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization NGO Non-governmental organization OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe SAA Stabilization and Association Agreement SAP Stabilization and Association Process SEIO Serbian European Integration Office SNS Serbian Progressive Party SPC Serbian Orthodox Church SPS Socialist Party of Serbia SRS Serbian Radical Party UN United Nations UNSC United Nations Security Council US United States of America
Executive summary The EU is at the centre of attention currently. While there are debates about the future of Europe and the dismissal of countries out of the Eurozone, there are also countries on their way to becoming a new member of the EU. Serbia is one of these countries. Little more than a decade ago this country was still caught in a disastrous conflict which resulted in an isolated position within the international community. In 2000 the nationalistic rule of Milošević came to an end and the new government immediately initiated a restoration of Serbia in Europe. Serbia was granted the official candidate status in March this year.
In literature we find that there is problematic relation between nationalism and a positive public opinion on European integration. First, a strong position of nationalism in the country does not allow people to identify with anything other than their nation, thus also not with Europe. Second, nationalism wants to protect the sovereignty of a country and does not approve the transfer of authority to another level, such as the EU. Given the history of Serbia with nationalism I wanted to test these theories with the case of Serbia’s EU integration, by a) assessing the importance of nationalism in Serbia nowadays and b) by studying the effect nationalism had on the politics and public opinion with regard to European integration.
The case study shows that there are factors in the Serbian society which have slowed down the integration process. The conditions that are set by the EU, especially with regard to Kosovo and cooperation with the ICTY, have faced opposition in the country. The proEuropean government therefore had to find strategies to balance between the conservative forces in the country and the demands of the EU. They adopted a strategy in which they have separated the affective and utilitarian dimension of becoming European. They have downplayed the first and emphasized the second. Among the public we see the same division being made. A large part of the population dislikes and distrusts the EU because they feel treated unjustly by them. On the other hand, people want Serbia to become a member of the EU because they expect that this will be beneficiary for their country as a whole and will improve their personal economic situation.
I conclude that the nationalistic sentiments that are present in Serbia at the moment, do influence the process of EU integration. I have not found evidence that the reason for this is the impossibility to develop a European identity due to a strong attachment to the national identity. In Serbia it is influenced mostly by the threat they perceive to national sovereignty and territorial integrity, especially with regard to Kosovo. On the other hand we have observed that utilitarian arguments have a strong influence on people’s public opinion on European integration.
Chapter 1: Introduction Serbia is in the phase of a transition. After the wars following the breakup of Yugoslavia and the fall of the Milošević regime, the country is now making steps on the road towards EU accession. Since 2000 the country has been pursuing EU membership, but only recently it was recognized as an official candidate country. The recognition of Serbia as a candidate state will not self-evidently mean accession, as we have seen with Turkey, for example. Farreaching reforms must be undergone by candidate countries to become stable democracies and prosperous market economies. The EU views enlargement as an opportunity, and one of its most powerful policy tools, to help in the transformation of the countries involved, extending peace, stability, prosperity, democracy, human rights and the rule of law throughout Europe (European Commission; 2008). Such an extensive process requires a substantial amount of support and commitment of the political elite as well as the general public in a country.
The transformative process in Serbia, which influences political, social, economical and legislative aspects, was and is not supported by everyone in the country. Compared to neighboring country Croatia, Serbia is making slow progress. Still part of the society voices a strong nationalistic attitude. The fight to retain Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia is the most visible aspect of the nationalistic attitude that is still present. Now that Serbia has transferred all of its suspected war criminals to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, normalization of the relation between Serbia and Kosovo is the most important criterion for the EU member states. In the governmental and presidential elections in Serbia, which were held in May 2012, Kosovo was an important topic. During the campaigns, Tadic had to defend the strategy his government has followed the last years, which was characterized by the slogan ‘both Kosovo and Europe’. It took careful balancing for them the last years to satisfy both the EU by having a constructive attitude towards Kosovo, as well as the population by insuring them that they will not give up Kosovo. Tadic’ party, the DS, remained the biggest in the governmental elections but Nikolic, of the SNS, has won the presidential elections.
The polls conducted amongst the population give an indication of the popular support for EU integration. In the last year these polls show that approximately half of the population supports EU membership of Serbia, while one-third would vote against it and the rest would abstain (Barlovac, 2011b; SEIO, 2012). In June 2011 the lowest level of support since 2000 was measured. In the public debate in Serbia several reasons have been mentioned for this. Milica Delevic, director of the European Integration Office, blames it on the difficult economic situation both Serbia and the EU are currently in (Delevic, 2011). Others have argued that people are getting tired ‘of the promises ‘about the European future’ and the unfulfilled expectations. They feel that even though Serbia has fulfilled all demands, it keeps being faced with new conditions every time (Simic, 2011). A third reason for the low support which is put forward, is the negative attitude of the population towards NATO. This is induced by the NATO bombings of Belgrade in 1999, and the connection the population makes between the EU and NATO (Simic, 2011). A last mentioned reason for the latest drop
-8E. BERGHUIS- VAN WESTERING of support is the unrest in northern Kosovo, where since July tensions have been high.
Kosovo Serbs have been manning barricades in protest against the deployment of Kosovo officials on the border with Serbia. This led to clashes between Serbs, Albanians and KFOR peacekeepers. People are afraid that the European road means giving up Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia. Although this is not the demand of the EU, the political elite is not able to alter this view (Barlovac, 2011b). The EU support in Serbia thus seems not only related with practical and instrumental considerations, but also with historical memories and nationalist sentiments: In this research I will study this relationship. Why does Serbia relate to the EU the way it does and what role does nationalism play in this?
1.1 Research goal and questions
This research has the aim to further develop the theory on the relation between nationalism, public opinion and European integration. In order to do so I have conducted a case study on Serbia’s process of EU integration. I will deal with the choice for this specific case later on.
First I will discuss the research goal and question. I have formulated the goal of this research
Improve the knowledge of the relationship between public opinion on European integration and nationalism; a) by providing an overview of the existing theory regarding the influence of nationalism on the public opinion on European integration, and b) by further developing this theory by studying the case of Serbia’s process towards EU integration.
Following the central goal of this research, I formulated the main research question: What is the influence of nationalism on public opinion on EU integration? And how does nationalism affect Serbia’s process towards EU integration?
This research question will be answered with the help of the following sub questions:
o What is the meaning and importance of nationalism for people?
o What factors play a role in public opinion on European integration?
o How can we characterize Serbian nationalism?
o What is the general opinion on European integration in Serbia?
o Which determinants are relevant in the explanation of the public opinion on European integration in Serbia?
o What is the role of domestic politics in the formation of the public opinion on European integration in Serbia?
o What role does nationalism play in the European integration process and in the public opinion on European integration in Serbia?
1.2 Relevance Societal relevance The idea of a European project came into being after the Second World War. European integration and cooperation was seen as the only possible solution to put an end to the competitive nationalism that led to two wars. ‘According to Europe's founding myth, a new commonality, beginning with a European common market, respect for democratic institutions, human rights, and the rule of law, would define the European project (Motha, 2010).’ Currently the European project is under threat. The economic crisis caused uncertainty and doubts about the feasibility of a stable common European market. The trust in Europe declines and people are starting to show more nationalistic attitudes. The populist sentiments that were voiced in reaction to the Greek Emergency Liquidity Assistance characterized these attitudes. Many people feel that the Greek should solve their own problems or step out of the Eurozone, the money of the ordinary tax payer should not be used to help them. In the Netherlands, 63% of the population was against European support for Greece (Novum, 2011).