Klačar, B., Čolović, I., Marković, A. & Orestijević, E.-2018
Any assessment of violent extremism (VE) in Serbia requires in-depth understanding of the broader context (political, social, and economic) and must not be reduced to an analysis only of factors currently in play: rather, it has to take a much broader perspective and cover developments of at least the past 30 years. Serbia is situated in the Western Balkans, a region historically associated with political instability and conflict. The former Yugoslavia dissolved amidst warfare and numerous crimes whose consequences remain visible today and pose a burden not only to successor states’ bilateral relations, but also to true reconciliation between the various peoples involved. Nationalism, coupled with authoritarian values and substantial ethnic and social distance, is a key factor for understanding various forms of VE, especially ethnically-motivated and right-wing extremism. The early 2000s were marked by yet another low-intensity conflict (in Southern Serbia), which additionally enhanced the hostility between the two ethnic communities there. These difficulties are compounded by powerful religious feelings present in the region, where members of different confessions often live side-by-side (or cannot avoid doing so). In addition to historical developments and the broader context, strong (local) nationalist sentiments, and the religion factor, Serbia also faces serious economic problems. According to continuous research performed by CeSID, more than one-half of all Serbians believe their key issues have to do with the economy: these include high unemployment, low incomes, and poor standards of living. Two other problems consistently reported by the public are pervasive corruption and a lack of opportunities for young people, both closely linked to the social and economic context and crucial for an analysis of push factors for VE. Finally, all aspects of daily life in Serbia are highly politicized, there is mistrust in institutions (especially those that ought to articulate civic engagement), and feelings of alienation and not belonging are widespread.