Anti-European Sentiment Grows in Balkan Countries

The people of Serbia and the Western Balkans blame the USA, NATO, and the West in general for starting the war in Ukraine

The results of a recent opinion poll conducted among the Balkan countries by Ipsos, one of the largest opinion polling centers in the world in the sector of market research, opinion analysis, and strategic consulting, on behalf of the American organization International Republican Institute (IRI) speak very clearly. To summarize the research, among “the population of the Western Balkan countries, although there remains a strong pro-Western orientation, there is instead a risk of losing confidence in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration.” The leader of this process is Serbia, where “pro-Russian sentiment is growing rapidly, and support for EU accession is declining.”

According to the poll, support for the European Union in Serbia has fallen below 40% in 2024, with Serbs seeing Russia as the “main partner” and the United States as a “threat.” In Montenegro, trust and support for NATO is falling, and here the largest number of respondents see the USA as “the biggest threat and Serbia as the biggest partner.” Again, according to the Ipsos study, the greatest support for the USA and Western institutions can apparently be found in Kosovo and Albania.

The IRI Institute is an organization that declares itself “non-governmental,” created to “spread US democratic values around the world.” Many countries, especially in the Global South, consider IRI’s activities “subversive” and a threat to their sovereignty. There are those who claim that the IRI was involved in organizing the so-called “color revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet republics. And IRI director Paul McCarthy, commenting on the polls, said it was “a worrying trend.” Compared to the previous 2022 poll, Serbia has “even less support for pro-Western orientation and EU accession,” said McCarthy, according to whom it was not surprising “how many respondents blamed the USA” for starting the war in Ukraine. According to McCarthy, “you can see it from the data from Serbia, but there are also a lot of people, many of whom have been interviewed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and particularly in northern Macedonia, who blame the United States, NATO, and the West in general for starting the war.” Probably because Serbs have not forgotten and will never forget the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia in March 1999.