More than half of all croatian citizens think that Croatia should be open to refugees looking for protection, and about two thirds don’t agree with the idea of Croatia being closed by wire or walls. This was found by the research Prevalence and indicators of discriminating and xenophobic attitudes in the Republic of Croatia 2017, published by the Center for peace studies, conducted by Ipsos d.o.o.
The research was conducted on a nationally representative sample of 975 croatian citizens, and it is ekvivalent to the research the Center for peace studies published in 2013. It shows that the attitudes toward foreigners, minorities, migrants and refugees changed in the last four years, in the same period when Croatia and Europe underwent many visible changes on a political level, and as the number of incoming refugees increased.
There is a noticeable growth in the percentage of participants with negative attitudes towards foreigners and their cultural heritage. For example, in 2013, as much as 29,8% of participants agreed, to a certain extent, with the claim “I don’t feel comfortable in contact with foreigners who moved to Croatia”. This year, as much as 41,5% of participants agreed with the same claim. Similarly, four years ago 20,9% agreed with the claim that “To be accepted in society, foreigners should give up their cultural heritage”, and today that percentage is 27,5%. The research also showed that the majority of participants had restrictive attitudes toward refugees moving to Croatia and the ways Croatia should respond.
“More than half the citizens believe that there is a high percentage of terrorists among refugees, and two thirds think that refugees should return to their countries when the war ends. Furthermore, they believe that younger men should stay in Syria and fight, and that refugees should go to countries which are culturally similar to theirs”, says Mirna Cvitan from Ipsos.
Similarly interesting are the results on attitudes that members of different nationalities, religions and political groups pose a threat to Croatia and its citizens, be it regarding their property and safety, their political loyalty or their fear for cultural identity. Four years ago, around 40% of participants rated gypsies highly dangerous on all three components, and today that percentage is about 25%. A similar trend is noticeable when it comes to attitudes regarding Serbs living in Croatia – in 2013, between 26 and 37 % of participants had negative attitudes toward Serbs, while this year that is true for between 22 and 28 % of participants. It is troubling that those who seek refuge are regarded more negatively than other groups, though the percentage of citizens who have negative attitudes towards them hasn’t changed. Still, it is encouraging that the participants who don’t have negative attitudes toward any of these groups, make the majority.