Croats Welcome Refugees, But Feelings Are Mixed

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Most Croats are against the construction of border fences.

More than half of citizens believe that Croatia should be open towards refugees seeking protection in Croatia, while about two-thirds think that Croatia should not construct border fence or a wall to prevent entry of refugees. These are results of a poll conducted among 975 Croatian citizens as part of the survey “Representation and Indicators of Discriminatory and Xenophobic Attitudes in Croatia 2017”, published by the Center for Peace Studies (CMS), reports on December 18, 2017.

An identical survey was conducted in 2013, and attitudes towards foreigners, minorities, migrants and refugees have changed somewhat since then. This was period in which changes in Croatia and Europe have been clearly visible, both at the political level and in terms of an increasing number of refugees.

On the other hand, there has been a growth in the share of respondents who have negative attitudes towards foreigners and their cultural heritage. Four years ago, almost 30 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “I do not feel comfortable in contact with foreigners who have moved to Croatia.” The percentage has now grown to 41.5 percent. Likewise, in 2013, about 21 percent agreed with the statement “to be accepted as members of our society, foreign migrants should give up their culture.” Now, 27.5 percent of people agree.

“More than half of citizens believe there is a significant number of terrorists among the refugees, and about two-thirds believe they should return to their countries after the war. They also mostly believe that younger men should stay in Syria and fight, and that refugees should go to countries which are culturally more similar,” said Mirna Cvitan from Ipsos, the agency which conducted the research.

The results of the attitudes of respondents on whether members of specific national, religious and political groups represent a danger to Croatia or its citizens are also interesting. Four years ago, about 40 percent of respondents rated Roma as dangerous, but the percentage has dropped to 25 percent. Similar trends are visible in the case of Serbs living in Croatia – in 2013, between 26 and 37 percent of respondents had negative attitudes towards Serbs, and the percentage has now declined to between 22 and 28 percent.

What is worrying is the fact that asylum seekers have now taken over the top of these rankings, although the percentage of citizens who have negative attitudes about them has not changed significantly. However, it is encouraging there is no group about which the majority of respondents had negative views.

Given the growing negative attitudes in Europe towards migration and the general increase of xenophobia which cannot be welcomed in any society, it is essential that state institutions and other stakeholders seriously try to stop these negative trends, said the CMS.

“We need public policies that will really be designed based on available data, but also carefully implemented in practice. The introduction of citizenship education is a necessity in this regard. Also, it is important to carry out carefully targeted campaigns at the local level, but also to work with the media, which have a major role in building public opinion. Most people in this country do not hate anyone and fear no one, and this is a message that the political elites should hear, understand and act on,” concluded Sara Lalić from the Center for Peace Studies.

Translated from


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