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Support for EU membership drops in Serbia

Jan. 29, 2013 at 5:15 PM

BELGRADE, Serbia, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Support for joining the European Union has dropped to a record low in Serbia, with only 41 percent supporting it, a poll indicates.

The poll, conducted in December by the Government Office for European Integration, suggests support for EU membership went down significantly in the last six months of 2012, the Tanjug news agency reported. The results, scheduled to be officially released Thursday, were reported by the newspaper Danas.

In June 2012, 49 percent of respondents supported joining the EU. In 2002, when the first polls were taken, 68 percent were backers, which increased to 72 percent in December 2003, still the high point.

Predrag Simic, president of the Forum for International Relations of the European Movement in Serbia, said the reason for the shift in public opinion is uncertainty, with no date set for the beginning of accession talks. The situation in Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is a sticking point.

"All parties in the parliament, except the Democratic Party of Serbia, support the country's European integration, while the citizens' support to the process dropped to 41 percent. This data shows that 59 percent of citizens do not believe that Serbia would access the EU in 10 or 15 years because nobody can guarantee this," Simić said.

Simic said that failing to get a date for the start of accession talks this year could lead to an early election because attaining EU membership is central to Serbia's governing coalition.

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