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Many in Balkans Still See More Harm From Yugoslavia Breakup.

Byline: Elizabeth Keating and Zacc Ritter

Synopsis: Amid rising tensions in the Balkans, Gallup finds "Yugo-nostalgia" is widespread in former Yugoslav republics, where many see the breakup as harming their countries, rather than benefiting them.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The violent protests in Macedonia's parliament in late April are just one recent reminder of the deep-seated tensions that remain in the Balkans decades after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. With these tensions rising in the region, Gallup finds "Yugo-nostalgia" is widespread in former Yugoslav republics, where many see the breakup as harming their countries, rather than benefiting them.

People living in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are the most likely say the breakup harmed their country, with more than three in four residents characterizing it this way. Similar to Russian attitudes toward the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, Serbians may feel an acute sense of loss as the core nation of a former multinational state.

The negative attitudes in Bosnia and Herzegovina may be linked to frustration with persistently poor government performance. More than any other former Yugoslav province, adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina said their country was headed in the wrong direction (82%) and the economy was getting worse (60%).

In contrast, residents of Slovenia and Croatia, both members of the European Union, were much more likely to perceive the collapse of Yugoslavia as beneficial. Adults in Kosovo saw this historic event in the most positive light, with the strong majority seeing a benefit (75%), likely related to their long drive to independence.

Ethnic Minorities More Likely to See Harm

When adults belong to the dominant ethnic group they are less likely to say the breakup harmed their country. Croatians living outside Croatia were much more likely than Croatians living in Croatia to think the breakup harmed their country. The same is true for Albanians in Kosovo, where they are the dominant ethnic group, compared with Albanians in Macedonia, where they are a minority ethnic group that briefly waged a secessionist movement before the 2001 NATO-brokered power-sharing agreement. The partial exception are Serbians, who largely believe their country was harmed by the breakup regardless of where they reside.

Older Adults More Likely to See Harm

Adults older than age 55 are more likely than those between the ages of 15 and 35 -- many of whom were not even born at the time of the breakup -- to say the collapse harmed their countries. This could be attributable to older residents remembering the benefits they once had in Yugoslavia, such as free healthcare, free education, a higher employment rate and guaranteed pensions. The picture is similar in all countries except Kosovo and Slovenia, where residents in all age groups express similar opinions of the breakup.

When examining how residents feel about the breakup of Yugoslavia, few other demographic differences stand out. Differences by education and income were observed only in Slovenia and Croatia, with those who are more educated and who have higher annual incomes being less likely to feel their country was harmed.


Many residents of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia feel its breakup 25 years ago harmed their country. These residents may be mourning the loss of the benefits that socialism provided or be frustrated with the current high unemployment rate, the loss of income, or the lost illusion of peaceful coexistence among different groups. Given the differences in opinions by age, it seems many residents who can remember Yugoslavia view the past in a more favorable light compared with the present political and economic realities. Yugo-nostalgia may fade, but ethnic minorities may continue to see the past in a positive light as a time of multi-ethnic tolerance.

Neli Esipova contributed to this article.
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Article Details
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Author:Keating, Elizabeth; Ritter, Zacc
Publication:Gallup Poll News Service
Article Type:Survey
Geographic Code:4EXYU
Date:May 18, 2017
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