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Saturday, March 25, 2017, 

Public support for EU membership in Macedonia drops to 77%: poll

Public support for EU membership in Macedonia drops to 77%: poll

Skopje, 17 February 2017 (MIA) - The trend of declining support for EU membership, noticeable in the past several years, is detected in 2016 as well. But being at 77%, EU integration is still considered to enjoy overwhelming support in Macedonia, shows a public opinion poll.

The opinion poll, presented on Friday in Skopje, was conducted by the Institute for Democracy "Societas Civilis" in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

According to Ivan Damjanovski of the Institute for Democracy, the public support, which remains high, comes as a result of the citizens' expectations from economic benefits once the country joined the Union.

"The key factor for EU support to start dropping gradually lies in the implications over our identity that stem from the name issue with Greece. It cannot be called an euro-skeptical energy, because if we put the name row aside, then EU support amongst the citizens is close to 90%," stated Damjanovski.

According to Zoran Necev of the Institute for Democracy, the survey shows that a majority of respondents, nearly 26%, believe that the EU could be Macedonia's strongest foreign ally, followed by Russia (25%) and the United States (17,5%).

"With the citizens becoming more inclining to Russia and its support, public support for EU membership could suffer a blow. We have concluded that EU's credibility has been put into question, which requires measures to be taken to restore confidence in the process of accessing the EU," Necev said.

What is interesting, he added, is that there is significant difference between the largest ethnic groups in Macedonia as regards their perceptions of which country is the best foreign ally of Macedonia.

"For majority of Macedonians - nearly 29,9%, Russia is considered the best ally, whereas most Albanians view the EU and the US as best allies (32,2% and 28,3% respectively)," Necev noted.

The opinion poll was conducted on a representative sample of 1,100 respondents, who were interviewed by phone in November 2016. 

Findings of the survey are presented in two papers of the Institute for Democracy, namely the Analysis of Public Opinion about Macedonia's EU Integration Process (2014-2016) and EU's Credibility in Macedonia At Stake. ba/17:08

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