PRESS RELEASE 2008-11-17

Polarisation in the Balkans: A region between hope and disenchantment

Gallup and the European Fund for the Balkans present on the occasion of the Policy Dialogue of the European Policy Centre in Brussels the first results of the Gallup Balkan Monitor.

The European Fund for the Balkans aims to bring the Western Balkans closer to the EU by awarding grants and developing operational programmes. Focused on individuals and organisations from Western Balkan countries, the Fund’s priorities include the development – in the Balkans – of functioning state administrations and constituency-building. In order for administrations to function effectively, of course, there must be a close link between the authorities and the people they represent. That, in turn, shows the need for greater understanding of the perceptions and attitudes of the Balkan people.

The Gallup Balkan Monitor – insights and perceptions of the Balkan people

Given Gallup’s position as the pre-eminent organisation in pan-European polling and its long-standing interest in the Balkan region, it appeared natural for the Fund to choose that organisation as its partner in the region to conduct the Gallup Balkan Monitor, the first-ever in-depth survey of the whole Western Balkans. It reflects Balkan residents’ views on all aspects of their lives and provides strategic insights into today’s Balkans’ socio-economic, socio-political and multi-cultural dimensions.

The first results – a patchwork of attitudes and beliefs

Shortly after the publication of the EU’s progress reports for the Western Balkan countries, the survey presents a complementary assessment of the region by the citizens themselves, providing much-needed evidence for policy-makers. The latest survey, conducted in September and October 2008, consisted of a representative sample of at least 1,000 respondents per country in Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It therefore shows how Balkan citizens are thinking today.

  • Less than 15 years after the 1992-95 war, the Western Balkans is polarised: from the optimistic ‘new states’ – Montenegro and Kosovo – to the more disillusioned Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia and more surprisingly Croatia.. For example, more than six in ten respondents in Kosovo thought that their country was moving in a good direction (62%), while people in Croatia were as many to think that their country was heading in a bad direction (64%).
  • With the notable exception of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, support for EU membership in the Balkan countries has remained high. Over eight out of ten Albanians, for example, thought that a membership in the European Union would be a good thing (83%) 
  • Most Balkan inhabitants’ show dissatisfaction with their country’s development; this is reflected by their negative attitude towards politics and the way they are governed
  • A significant number believe they could find better opportunities abroad, although most would prefer not to leave their home country forever. For example, more than half of respondents in Macedonia thought that there were better opportunities for them abroad (55%), but out of those willing to leave, two-thirds could only imagine a temporary stay in a foreign country (67%). 
  • An overwhelming majority of respondents from Kosovo and Albania say the independence (of Kosovo) has had a positive impact on the region, but only a minority of Serbian and Montenegrin participants share that view.

Where to find more and the next steps?

The detailed results can be seen at the Gallup Balkan Monitor’s website ( As well as a number of reports centred on the region, the site features an easy-to-use data dashboard that will allow users to examine the results in depth. With the partnership due to continue until 2010, this latest survey is the first of many.

For more information, please contact:

Andrzej Pyrka, tel. +32 (0)2 734 54 18, mobil: +32 (0) 486 99 23 94

European Fund for the Balkans
Executive Director
Hedvig Morvait-Horvat, tel. +381 11 3033 662, mob. +381 (0) 638 69 99 23

ERSTE Foundation
Maribel Königer, tel. +43 50100 15453, e-mail:
Jovana Trifunovic, tel. +43 50100 15844, e-mail:

European Fund for the Balkans

The European Fund for the Balkans, a multi-year joint initiative of European foundations designed to undertake and support initiatives aimed at bringing the Western Balkans closer to the European Union. The European Fund for the Balkans has been founded by the Compagnia di San Paolo, ERSTE Foundation, the King Baudouin Foundation and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The venture is designed to engage European funders already active in the Balkans, as well as public and private donors new to the region or those who wish to leverage their own funding and increase their impact.

ERSTE Foundation

ERSTE Foundation is active in the Central and South Eastern European region. Together with its partners it creates a hive of activity for social good. Established in 2003, the Foundation began its work two years later by developing the three programmes: Social Affairs, Culture, and Europe. Being the legal successor of the 190 year old “Erste oesterreichische Spar-Casse”, the first Austrian savings bank, ERSTE Foundation is the major shareholder of Erste Group and therefore one of the largest institutions of this kind in Europe. Its two commitments are based on historical roots: ERSTE Foundation safeguards the future of Erste Group as an independent company and reinvests its profits in activities that promote the common good.