Democratic Party of Serbia: Principled disagreement with the EU
The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) is a conservative, centre-right party whose key principles include support to the Serbian Orthodox Church, preservation of traditional moral values, protection of national identity, strengthening of national cultural institutions and protection of the Cyrillic script (DSS 2010a). This party expressed a complex attitude towards the EU and Serbian EU membership. On the one hand, it demonstrated mistrust of the West, primarily the United States of America, and particularly contested the legitimacy of the ICTY. On the other hand, the party supported Serbian EU accession and significantly contributed to this process while it was in power. However, recognition of Kosovo’s independence by a large majority of EU Member States fundamentally affected party attitudes, and since 2008 it has argued for stopping further integration into the EU. The party position may be termed Soft Eurosceptic, since it has never objected to the EU, while as a consequence of principled disagreement with the position of key EU Member States on the issue of the status of Kosovo, it strongly objected to Serbian EU membership.
This party did reflect on the EU, although that has not been pronounced in party politics and programmatic documents. The Democratic Party of Serbia perceived the EU’s policy towards the Western Balkans in a broad context and as an indicator of the shortcomings of the EU’s overall foreign and security policy. Specifically, the party vice president Samardžić (2011) argued that the EU does not have its own authentic security and foreign policy, and pointed out that it has become a periphery under the influence of the United States of America. Moreover, the party objected to the EU’s policy towards the region, since ‘it does not deal anymore with strengthening institutions, democratization and economic stabilization, but is rather a result of geo-strategic concerns that are directly related to NATO’s intention to include all regional countries in its membership’ (Samardžić 2011).
The party thus expressed criticism but, unlike the Serbian Radical Party, did not object to the whole project of European integration, nor did it advocate an alternative form of cooperation among European nations.
On the other side, the Democratic Party of Serbia had a complex attitude towards Serbian integration into the EU. The party did not object to Serbian EU membership before 2008, and while it was a key ruling party in the period from 2004 to 2008, the country made some initial steps towards EU membership. The party president and then Serbian Prime Minister Koštunica stated in March 2004 that Serbia essentially belonged to Europe and that ‘EU membership is not only what we want, but also something that has to be done and cannot be avoided’, adding that there was no alternative to the European path (Government of the Republic of Serbia 2010). In May 2007, Koštunica’s second government announced that its main short-term goal would be acquiring EU candidate status and speeding up the process of legislative harmonization with the EU standards (Parliamentary Network 2010).
The Democratic Party of Serbia opposed cooperation with the ICTY, which was a key precondition for EU accession, and favoured voluntary surrendering of the indicted. The government thus suspended cooperation with the ICTY, which resulted in withdrawal of financial support from the Western countries and postponement of the feasibility study on Serbia’s readiness to enter into a contractual relationship with the EU. As a consequence of the negative economic effects of these policies and bad results at the presidential and local elections in 2004, the party gradually modified its attitude toward the ICTY. The government thus managed to ‘persuade’ some of the indicted to surrender voluntarily and adopted the National Strategy for Accession to the EU as a sign of its readiness to continue European integration. This led to the EU’s decision in mid-2005 to resume negotiations with Serbia. The negotiations were successfully completed and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement was initialled in October 2007, supported by the Democratic Party of Serbia.
However, after leading EU Member States recognized the independence of Kosovo in 2008, the party changed its position and adopted a new policy of opposition to Serbian EU integration, given that ‘the EU violated the fundamental norms of international law’ (Samardžić 2011). The party argued that under the radically new circumstances Serbia must refuse to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, claiming that to sign it would implicitly recognize the independence of its southern province (Stojić 2010). After losing the May 2008 elections, it placed the question of Serbian EU integration in the absolute centre of its politics, and became the main critic of the government’s pro-European policy as well as a strong opponent of Serbian European integration.
The party adopted the motto ‘Serbia Has No Alternative!’ and argued that ‘instead of disastrous politics that the EU has no alternative, it is time for the state building politics, whose fundamental principle is that Serbia, with Kosovo as its integral part, could join the EU’ (DSS 2010b). Koštunica argued that ‘there is not a single European state that has given up part of its territory under pressure or has recognised a violent change of its borders. The rules that apply to all European countries must also apply to Serbia’ (DSS 2010b). In the run-up to the 2012 elections, the party further strengthened its Eurosceptic position and adopted a policy of military and political neutrality as an alternative to EU membership.
The Democratic Party of Serbia belongs to the Soft Eurosceptic category. This party had key characteristics identified by Szczerbiak and Taggart’s (2008) initial concept of Soft Euroscepticism. It did not express principled objection to the EU or EU membership, while it had concerns on one of the EU’s policy areas, namely the EU policy towards the Western Balkans, which de facto (although still not officially) required Serbia to accept Kosovo independence in order to become an EU member state. It therefore argued that the national interest of preservation of Serbian territorial integrity is at odds with EU membership, and as a consequence it was firmly against Serbian EU membership.
In addition, it is a Soft Eurosceptic party that fulfils the criteria conceptualized earlier, that is, it objected to Serbian EU integration, while not expressing completely negative attitudes towards the EU. This party position is, however, specific and unique in the way that it is not pragmatically and strategically driven (which may be a key characteristic of parties belonging to this category), and is rather a consequence of a deep traditional and national ideological conviction that territorial integrity and sovereignty is a prime European value. The Democratic Party of Serbia is not essentially a party with anti-European ideology. Its opposition to Serbian EU accession, although practically similar, is substantially different from the stance of the Serbian Radical Party. The party officials underlined its European orientation based on old European, conservative heritage and values, such as commitment to the rule of law and the market economy, and added that ‘the party does not have any backup policy’ (Samardžić 2011). Its programme also stated that Serbia should have close cooperation with European countries, with the ultimate goal of becoming an EU member state (DSS 2012: 11). The party advocated ‘a new national policy that will have as main objectives Serbia itself and its internal development, but based on the best European values and standards that are in the interest of the country’ (DSS 2010c). It also insisted on an open dialogue with the EU in order to build ‘beneficial relations based on the mutually accepted agreement’ (DSS 2010c).
Finally, it appears that strategic reasons do not play an important role in this party’s position on Serbian EU integration, given that the Democratic Party of Serbia is widely perceived as ‘a party that is not guided by political pragmatism’ (Samardžić 2011). It is rather a value-based party that gives priority to its programmatic principles and national politics, even when faced with declining support in the Serbian electorate. Popularity and electoral success are not the most important goals to the party leader Koštunica, who is ‘persistent and stubborn’ when implementing principled politics (Bakić 2011). Bakić (2011) concluded that the party ‘insufficiently rationally perceived the reality’ and as result it faced a sharp decline in electoral support.
Former Eurosceptic Political Parties
Serbian Progressive Party: Unproven ‘Europeans’
The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) is a centre-right party, which was founded by a group of former moderate leaders of the Serbian Radical Party. The new party abandoned the Radicals’ ideology of Serbian nationalism and the concept of a Great Serbia (SNS 2010a) and underwent a fundamental and rapid transformation with regard to attitudes towards Serbian EU membership. Even though the party leaders had expressed pronounced Euroscepticism for almost twenty years (with occasionally moderated rhetoric in the mid-2000s), they founded the Serbian Progressive Party on a radically new, pro-European platform and became firm advocates of Serbian EU membership. The party is characterized as a Soft Euroenthusiast, due to its strategically driven support for Serbian EU integration. Its position on the EU cannot be definitely assessed, since it has never been elaborated. However, based on limited available data, it appears that this party is rather critical towards the EU, but strategically chooses not to speak about it.
The Serbian Progressive Party has never articulated attitudes towards the EU, since its focus was on Serbia’s EU membership. One cannot expect any deeper reflection on the principles of European integration given that it is a new, pragmatic party, whose politics towards the EU is devoid of principled positions on the desirable form of a community that brings together European nations, which is the case with most political parties in Serbia. However, the fact that this party’s key partner from the EU is Austria’s radical right and populist Freedom Party (Fallend 2008) may indicate its position on the EU. Their cooperation agreement specifically stated that the two parties support ‘the creation of a Europe of free nations and self-determined people in the framework of a grouping of national sovereign states’ (SNS-FPÖ 2011). They required the conservation of national identities, including the Western traditions of Christianity, humanism and the Enlightenment, as well as ‘effective protection of Europe against the guardianship of imperialist superpower’. The parties also stood for a fight against globalization and ‘the infiltration of religious fanaticism into a European society’. It may therefore be argued that the Serbian Progressive Party shared the rather skeptical and negative stance of its partner on the EU. This, however, has never been stated in the party’s public rhetoric or documents, since it strives to move away from its anti-European political legacy, present itself as a modern, conservative, pro-European party, and obtain ‘European legitimacy’.
On the other side, the party leadership underwent a fundamental transformation regarding its attitudes towards Serbian EU membership. After leaving the Radicals in 2008, the party leader Tomislav Nikolić abandoned nationalistic and anti-European politics and finalized a transformation that he had rhetorically started as deputy president of the Serbian Radical Party. The new party immediately started advocating Serbian EU membership. Its programme stated that the party stood for Serbia’s membership of the EU, military neutrality, intensified cooperation with the Russian Federation, China and Japan, as well as the best possible relations with the United States of America (SNS 2011b). It also argued that the party supported the European integration process aimed at institutional and economic strengthening of Serbia, and that it believed that Serbian EU accession was in the best, long-term interests of all citizens (SNS 2011b: 41). Its initial programmatic principles stated that Serbia could join Europe only as a whole state, with Kosovo as its integral part (SNS 2010a: 1). However, the reference to Kosovo in relation to the EU accession was later excluded from the party programme, which indicates that the party put priority on Serbian EU integration. Moreover, the party claimed that recognition of Kosovo’s independence was not a condition for Serbian membership of the EU, and argued that if the EU ever conditioned Serbian EU accession in such a way, then the Serbian citizens should make a decision on this issue at a referendum (SNS 2010b).
The decision of the leaders of the Serbian Progressive Party to start advocating Serbian accession to the EU was highly pragmatic. It rested upon the fact that a vast majority of voters were in favour of Serbian EU membership, and that the party had no chance of winning the election if it did not follow a European path. It was therefore necessary to break away from the Serbian Radical Party, given that the Radicals had failed to get into power advocating anti-European politics in the period after 2000. The party’s adoption of a radically new attitude towards the EU may thus be primarily interpreted as an election strategy and tactics to come to power, a fact that Nikolić himself did not hide. Thus, he argued that ‘the Radicals have never had a desire to come to power, while the Serbian Progressive Party is something else. We are a pro-European party. If we stand against the EU, we will never be able to win the elections in Serbia’ (SNS 2011a).
The party did not hold a firm ideological opinion on Serbian EU membership, and assessed it positively based on pragmatic considerations, which makes its Euroenthusiasm soft. It had a primarily utilitarian perception of Serbia EU membership, and viewed the EU as a main economic partner that could contribute to a better life for ordinary people. Its vice president Aleksandar Vučić (SNS 2010c) thus said about the EU: ‘I do not care for them, I just respect them. I neither love them nor they are especially dear to me, but we, as responsible people, have to take care of our country’. He also added that ‘we need a rational, realistic and serious approach to national politics in order to get the most we could for the country and to lose the least’ (SNS 2010c). It appears that the party’s Soft Euroenthusiasm was not deeply grounded in any principled beliefs in the intrinsic good of EU membership.
In addition, the Serbian Progressive Party was not fully ideologically positioned and consequently it could not have ideologically driven attitudes to the EU. It published its party programme more than three years after it was founded and it was reluctant to take a clear stance on a number of key and politically very delicate issues, such as the status of northern Kosovo as a condition for Serbian EU candidacy status. Many thus concluded that ‘it is clear that they want to come to power, but no one could guess how they would behave and what kind of policy they would implement’. What is certain is that the case of Serbian Progressive Party demonstrated the powerful transformative power of strategic electoral incentives that may even lead to a breakaway of parties and a fundamental change of their positions.
Socialist Party of Serbia: Emerging ‘Europeans’
The Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) was a ruling party throughout the 1990s, whose politics led to the international isolation of the country and NATO military intervention in 1999. This communist-successor party may be categorized at that time as the left-centre national Populist Party, since it had been positioned left of the socioeconomic centre, but strong populist nationalism, rather than focus on socioeconomic issues, was its most important characteristic. Although anti-European and nationalist, the party did not articulate outright rejection of Serbian EU membership, given that at the time it was an important political issue, while it criticized the Western policy towards Serbia. As such, its position at that time is characterized as Soft Euroscepticism with some Hard Eurosceptic elements, although not as pronounced as in the case of the Serbian Radical Party. After 2000, the party embarked on a slow transformation in an effort to rebrand itself as a modern, pro- European social-democratic party. As a consequence, the Socialist Party of Serbia is now characterized as a Soft Euro enthusiastic party because of its pragmatically driven support for Serbian EU membership, and the lack of a publicly expressed position on the EU. Until the mid-2000s, this party was largely perceived as a nationalist, antiglobalist and anti-Western party that was expressing a strong critical stance on the EU, and particularly the United States of America. In 2002, the party ‘condemned Europe because of its participation in the 1999 aggression against Yugoslavia, which was an expression of American imperialist strategy’. The Socialists argued that ‘Europe has participated in the destruction of its own interest and universal values such as freedom, equality and humanity, by obediently and blindly following the American administration’.
The document uses expressions such as ‘the most profound moral downfall in the history of mankind’ and ‘hypocrisy and neocolonialism’ in condemning the Europeans. After 2008, the party was focused on Serbian EU integration, without having any publicly elaborated position on the EU. Its party programme only broadly stated that the party advocated the open borders in Europe that would allow for the free flow of people, goods, capital and ideas (SPS 2010). However, the interviewed senior party officials demonstrated a rather positive stance on this issue. The party vice president Dijana Vukomanović (2011) thus argued that the EU has proven to be the most convincing political, economic, cultural and civilizational model that unquestionably has no alternative. As a result, the party was classified as Soft Euro enthusiastic, since it appeared to belong to the middle category in the proposed concept, which describes a party without clearly formulated or expressed attitudes towards the EU, but with a tendency to adopt an affirmative position. On the other side, the party has also undergone a major transformation over the last decade with regard to its position on Serbian EU accession. Although the party did not articulate outright rejection of Serbian EU membership, the Socialist Party of Serbia was widely perceived throughout as an unreformed and anti-European party. Party vice president Djukić Dejanović (2011) confirmed that ‘the party has never been explicitly against Serbian EU integration’, although ‘its key policies may have expressed an anti-European orientation’. The party did not endorse a 2004 parliamentary resolution on Serbian accession to the EU, even though it had formulated the accession of Serbia to the EU as a political goal at the 2003 congress. Nevertheless, the party practically nullified this commitment through a decisive refusal to extradite those charged with war crimes to the ICTY. The 2006 party programme that talked about ‘one of the most important statesman of the 20th century, Slobodan Milošević’ (SPS 2008: 2) was still consistent with its 1990s politics. The Socialists stood against any attempts to trade EU membership for the recognition of Kosovo, since ‘the West has not given up “the carrot-and-stick policy” in its relation to Serbia’ (SPS 2008: 44). However, they also argued that ‘it is the obligation of Serbia to join the European community of nations in a way that it would secure its vital national interests and rapid economic development’ (SPS 2008).
The key changes came after the death of its authoritarian leader Slobodan Milošević at the ICTY in 2006, when Ivica Dačić was elected as the new party president. Although a long-term devotee of president Milošević, Dačić realized that the party would have no future unless it embarked on a process of strategic re-positioning. He publicly argued that the Socialists would not be able to get a single vote in the future if stayed committed to the past, and that there was no place for party members who were not ready to understand the depth of party changes. In the 2008 election campaign, the Socialists thus conducted a campaign oriented towards socioeconomic issues, while arguing that Kosovo must remain an integral part of Serbia at any cost. The party attitude towards the EU was rather vague and occasionally negative, given the support of main EU countries for Kosovo’s independence, but it did not openly declare its position regarding the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. By adopting such policies, the party wanted to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable - to keep its core national and anti-European voters, and at the same time to move closer to a pro-European pole. Its strategy was to play on the core electorate’s dissatisfaction with the socioeconomic position, not on their national sentiments, which allowed for a gradual shift of party attitudes towards the pro-EU pole. Specifically, representation of this niche of the electorate’s socioeconomic interests brought the party the opportunity to adopt affirmative attitudes towards the EU and allowed them to argue that only Serbian accession to the EU might improve their living standards. Its previous emphasis on nationalism, on the other hand, was naturally coupled with Euroscepticism.
The post-2008 election coalition building proved to be a decisive factor that reinforced the party’s transformation. After successfully balancing between the apparent unwillingness of its electorate and some senior party members to accept a new policy orientation and the need to reinvent the party, Dačić made a highly strategic and pragmatic decision to help form a pro-EU government. This was a result of the self-interest of a new party leadership, which was trying to come closer to the social-democratic political family, as well as of a calculation that anti-European policies had absolutely no future. Djukić Dejanović (2011) confirmed that the change of party attitudes towards the EU was to a great extent the result of strategy and electoral tactics. She particularly stressed the experience of being in opposition when ‘the Socialists were stigmatized and labeled as the Jews in Nazi Germany’, as a factor that ‘actually much helped the party to adopt European standards as its own’. Such a decision may also be attributed to the influence of the EU, which was interested in the formation of a pro-European government and directly interfered in the election process by supporting the pro-European coalition of Serbian president Boris Tadić. It is therefore reasonable to argue that the impact on the Socialists’ decision to join the pro-EU government was important, although Djukić Dejanović (2011) claimed that ‘there was no classical pressure from the EU. There were only conversations about the fact that it was worth supporting policy of president Tadić and the Democratic Party’.
New Serbia: Strategic ‘Europeans’
The New Serbia (NS), characterized as a Soft Euro enthusiastic party, was founded as a monarchist and conservative party that stands for Serbia as the state of the Serbian people, the Serbian Orthodox Church as the backbone of moral and spiritual renewal, and a parliamentary monarchy (NS 2010). The programme of this party, unlike the large majority of Serbian parties, did briefly state what type of EU it supported. It specifically stated that the party’s objective was not only to join the European institutions, but also to strengthen them by supporting the transformation of the European Union from ‘commercial society’ to ‘political society’ (NS 2010: 3). However, the party did not further elaborate this position and the issue of the EU was virtually absent from its rhetoric.
On the other side, the party has changed its attitude towards Serbian EU integration two times since 2008, and as such represents an unambiguous example of a party driven by strategic and tactical electoral considerations. The programme of the New Serbia (NS 2010: 3) demonstrated its European orientation, by stating that it believed that Serbia belonged to a United Europe not only geopolitically, but also because of its entire history and cultural heritage. It was part of the pro-EU coalition that ousted president Milošević and largely followed its traditional coalition partner – the Democratic Party of Serbia – in all key policies. Therefore, it supported Serbian EU membership until the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence, when it took a strong Eurosceptic position and argued against Serbian accession to the EU. It opposed the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, accused the government of betraying national interests and announced its willingness to initiate the procedure for impeachment of the Serbian president Boris Tadić (NS 2011).
However, it again shifted attitudes towards Serbian EU membership in 2010, abandoned the coalition with the Democratic Party of Serbia and returned to its pre-2008 policy, due to a fear of political marginalization. This decision was solely pragmatic and strategic. The party vice president Filipovski (2011) confirmed that the voters’ support had been in steady decline since 2008, and given that ‘the voters have already made their decision’ and that Kosovo was not a priority issue, the party decided to ‘follow what the citizens of Serbia think’ and return to its original pro-European principles. The party formed a coalition with the Serbian Progressive Party in the run-up to the 2012 elections and advocated EU membership, despite the fact that some senior party officials were ‘emotionally deeply against it, given the negative consequences of EU policy in the Balkans’. Therefore, this is one more example of pragmatic and strategic party positioning, since the party’s Soft Euro enthusiasm is not deeply grounded and is devoid of principled beliefs or convictions.
The analysis of Serbian parties’ positions on Europe through application of the proposed concepts points to several conclusions. First, the key line of division between the parties is whether Serbia should be an EU member state or not. Different views on the EU (both the EU as it is and the ideas underlying the process of European integration) are difficult to identify in parties’ public rhetoric and are almost completely absent from their programmatic documents This can be explained by the fact that voters know almost nothing about the EU so political parties have no incentives to exploit these issues. In addition, the ignorance of the EU seems to be widespread in the parties themselves. As a result, this issue is neither the topic of political discussion nor the basis for party classification into Eurosceptic and Euro enthusiastic categories. It is therefore possible that the essentially pro-European Democratic Party of Serbia, which has not had a fundamentally negative attitude towards the EU, is characterized as Soft Eurosceptic, given its strong commitment to the political neutrality of Serbia.
Second, the study demonstrates that the principled pro- and anti-European parties, termed Hard Euro enthusiasts and Hard Eurosceptics, for the most part have adopted ideologically based attitudes to Europe, and have consistently opposed or supported both Serbian EU membership and the EU, although the latter is much less present in their public discourse. These parties have not changed attitudes since they were founded, although their rhetoric may have been occasionally and strategically moderated (the Serbian Radical Party in the mid-2000s). Specifically, the traditionalism versus modernism dimension of party competition seems to play an important role, given that party attitudes to Europe match their positions on this axis, with liberal and modernist parties being most pro-European, and traditional and national being rather Eurosceptic.
On the other hand, it appears that Soft Euro enthusiastic and Soft Eurosceptic parties, with the exception of the Democratic Party of Serbia, have adopted strategically motivated attitudes to Europe. As a consequence, they tend to change positions on Serbian EU membership (in the case of New Serbia even twice within two years), which indicates a lack of firm foundation of their attitudes. Moreover, these parties have not adopted clearly defined positions on the EU, and elements of both positive and negative stances on this issue may be identified. They often strategically choose not to speak about the EU, in order to conceal their rather critical position (especially in the case of the Serbian Progressive Party and the New Serbia) and to obtain ‘the legitimacy of the West’.
Third, the study also identifies that party attitudes towards EU membership tend to shift more easily than their position on the EU. Serbian parties therefore have moved in the vertical dimension of the proposed concept, while horizontal changes have not occurred. This, coupled with a lack of elaborated positions, suggests that it is harder for parties to change attitudes and policies towards the EU and the ideas underlying the process of European integration, which thus appears to be to some extent more ideologically grounded and more revealing about parties’ real positions on Europe. On the other hand, the question of joining the EU has proved to be a more practical issue on which parties responded strategically. This broadly confirms Kopecky and Mudde’s (2002) arguments that ideology may determine a party’s support for the ideas underlying the process of European integration, while the EU as it is (and EU membership in non-members) may be more strategically perceived.
The analysis also points to a specific position of the Democratic Party of Serbia, which is characterized as a Soft Eurosceptic party that is not ideologically anti European, but is distinctly against Serbian EU membership. This party position is unique in the way that it is not pragmatically and strategically driven (as expected from parties belonging to ‘soft’ categories), and is rather a consequence of a deep traditional and national ideological conviction that the international borders of European countries are unchangeable and that preservation of territorial integrity is a prime European value that is valued far more than Serbian EU membership. In line with Szczerbiak and Taggart’s (2008) initial concept, this party has concerns about one of the EU policy areas, namely its policy towards Serbia, which de facto requires acceptance of Kosovo’s independence for further EU integration. The party therefore argues that the national interest of preservation of Serbian territorial integrity is currently at odds with EU membership, making it a Soft Eurosceptic party.
Fourth, the largest number of Serbian parties belongs to the ‘soft’ categories and oscillates between support and opposition to Serbia’s EU membership, which points to a lack of deeply grounded views. There are no indications that, for example, the former Eurosceptics have adopted a pro-EU position due to a belief that Serbian EU membership has become intrinsically good. Their new stance is rather the result of rational political calculations and post-electoral negotiations influenced by the Western countries as well as repeated failed attempts to come to power by advocating nationalism and (sometimes rhetorically moderated) anti-Europeanism. In addition, the shifting nature of their attitudes shows difficulties in forming a clear and unequivocal position on Europe. This fact is certainly not a surprise given the complex relationship between the two sides over the past two decades. This also demonstrates that a wider social consensus on EU membership has not been reached. However, Table 6.3 also shows that the political significance of Eurosceptic parties has declined over time, particularly following the foundation of the Serbian Progressive Party in 2008, when all key parties started advocating Serbian EU membership. Further electoral decline of these parties was dramatically seen at the 2012 elections, when the Serbian Radical Party, once the largest party in the Parliament, failed to pass the electoral threshold and became a non-parliamentary party, while the Democratic Party of Serbia remained a small party without any possibility of implementing its political platforms.
Finally, the EU is almost exclusively perceived among the Serbian political elite through the prism of its policy towards Serbia and the former Yugoslavia over the past two decades. Specifically, (former) Eurosceptic parties’ attitudes towards the EU and EU membership are directly related to the issue of Kosovo’s status, as well as the policy of the EU and its leading Member States. That is certainly not a surprise, bearing in mind that there is no agreement among EU Member States about Serbian international borders, which is a unique case in Europe. In this way, the fundamental and unresolved issues of sovereignty, territorial integrity and borders resulting from the idiosyncratic, historical and political circumstances that arose from the violent breakup of the former Yugoslavia, decisively shape the politics of Serbian Eurosceptic (and not only Eurosceptic) parties towards the EU.