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Iosif Vangelatos, General Manager, Inos Balkan

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Aris Karousos, CEO of Eko Serbia

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Panagiotis Pitsikos, CEO, Autostop Interiors

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Srećko Mihailović, Sociologist, Demostat Chief Researcher

Playing The “Green Politics” Card Exclusively Is Not A Good Recipe

With such torturous stretching of the social and political interpretations of environmental problems, it is understandable that, despite the fact that there are numerous local initiatives in Serbia, there is the lack of a synergetic political alliance among existing initiatives.

Today’s social treatment of environmental problems is tethered in a triangle marked by three issues. On the one side is the real need for organised politicising of the most important environmental issues as a way to resolve them – environmental issues are political issues, if we understand politics in human discourse. On the other side, it is essential for the organisational connecting of numerous local environmental initiatives. Instead of a biased understanding of the old motto “think locally, act globally”, or vice versa, as some environmental activists insist, the point ought to be on merging opinions and actions, and on unifying the local and the global. And on the third side, we find the misuse of environmental issues with the aim of promoting political parties. With such torturous stretching of the social and political interpretations of environmental problems, it is understandable that, despite the fact that there are numerous local initiatives in Serbia, there is the lack of a synergetic political alliance among existing initiatives.

In this context, there appears to be promise in Nebojša Zelenović’s “Green Deal for Serbia”, which has to date – through the Open Civic Platform “Akcija” [Action] – brought together 28 environmental organisations from around 60 towns and cities. It is important to note that in this endeavour, “green politics” is not understood only in a narrow context, nor does the overall activity of the projected organisation boil down to a narrow understanding of ecology (and it is known that single-issue parties very rarely achieve any significant success).

Voters, whether they’re supporters of the ruling parties or the opposition, think that Serbia’s progress is connected to taking care of environmental protection. Nonetheless, on the other hand, only three per cent of respondents said they would vote for a green party, which is a result of the distancing of (every) political leader from environmental action

The question, however, is whether the support of citizens exists for solving the most relevant environmental problems, and how broad that support is. In order to determine how citizens see ecological problems, and particularly environmental protection problems, IIC Demostat has conducted five public opinion polls over the last three years. Here I will mention only two findings from the last survey (a telephone poll conducted at the end of July this year on a sample of 1,200 respondents).

The only shared determination between the two opposing views of environmental protection, given by supporters of the ruling parties and supporters of the parties that boycotted the last parliamentary elections, is the stance that Serbia’s progress is connected to taking care of environmental protection. This opinion is shared by 71 per cent of supporters of the ruling parties and 71 per cent of supporters of the boycotting opposition bloc. The juxtaposed position, which is advocated implicitly by the government and implied that we should be concerned about economic benefits regardless of the environmental damage, is supported by about a fifth of citizens.

Nonetheless, on the other hand, when asked who they would vote for if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, only three per cent of respondents said they would vote for a green party. It is obvious that the unreasonable distancing of (every) political leader from environmental action has taken its toll. This will continue to be the case if there is a continuation of the manipulation according to which social changes are possible despite politics.

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