BELGRADE (AP)--Serbs overwhelmingly want their republic to join the European Union, according to a poll released Friday. The survey also found that the United States tops a list of countries Serbs consider "unfriendly."
The poll, conducted last week among 1,500 adults by Marten Board International polling agency, showed that anti-U.S. sentiment endures here after the 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing of Serbia over the Kosovo conflict.
Although the armed forces of many E.U. members also took part in the air raids that halted Serbia's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, as many as 78% of those polled expressed support for the government's policy of forging closer ties with the E.U.
A key hurdle on Serbia's road to possible E.U. membership, however, has been the demand for the extradition of several Serb war crimes suspects to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, where they are wanted on charges connected with the Balkan wars of the 1990s. 37% were in favor of cooperation with the tribunal, while 47.7% said they were against.
Asked to list countries they consider friends of Serbia, 20.8% chose Greece. Russia and France followed with 17.8 and 3.9%.
In the category of states considered "unfriendly to Serbia," the U.S. was first with 27.7, while 12.8% chose Albania and 11.9% chose Croatia.
The survey gave no margin of error.
The poll also showed deep divisions on many issues in the country, recovering after years of war, sanctions and isolation under former President Slobodan Milosevic.
The most popular political party, according to the poll, is the Nationalist Serbian Radical Party, made up of hardline allies of Milosevic who have called for the government's ouster over the handover of Serb war crimes suspects to the U.N. tribunal. They were supported by 30.4% of respondents.
Ranked second was a party from the opposite end of the political spectrum, the pro-Western Democrats, backed by 28.3%. Both factions are in opposition to the conservative government of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.
The upstart Strength of Serbia party, founded last year by billionaire businessman Bogoljub Karic, ranked third, with 13.4%, while Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia finished fourth with 10.7%. [ 08-04-05 1559GMT ]