Only 1 out of 10 analyzed media content pieces shared positive or neutral sentiment about the concept of Serbian World. The majority of content that had negative sentiment was published in the media based in Montenegro, while the articles supportive of the Serbian World were distributed equally in local and media based in Serbia.
The analysis, which covered a period of three months (November 2021 - January 2022) has shown that the pieces with positive content pointed out the fact that the Serbian World is not precisely defined and it depends on the person that interprets it. The definitions go from “system of values” up to claims that the Serbian World means that Serbia, Montenegro, and Republika Srpska should be integrated in one country.
The sample included 580 media articles published in over 150 outlets based in Montenegro and the Balkan region. The vast majority of publications shared strong negative sentiment about the concept of Serbian World and approximately, only 1 in 10 pieces shared positive or neutral sentiment.
Although in total amount the positive and neutral content summed up to a total of approx. 12 percent, it reached nearly a quarter of total audience. The majority of analyzed sample was published by outlets in Montenegro, but when only the content with the positive sentiment is singled out, it was equally distributed by the media in Montenegro and the media based in Serbia.
Main messages disseminated by the pieces with the negative content were that the “Serbian World undermines Montenegrin sovereignty” and that it “promotes Serbian hegemony in the region”. The more precise messages sharing the negative sentiment claimed that the Montenegrin authorities are working in favor of the Serbian World by undermining Montenegrin education, culture, and economy.
In the regional perspective, it was claimed that the Serbian World is essentially the same concept as the Grand Serbia, that it endangers the region and that the main promotor of the idea is the Serbian Orthodox Church. These pieces also included claims that the regional initiative Open Balkans is actually an instrument for fulfilment of the Serbian World aims.
Almost all content with negative sentiment was shared by the media based in Montenegro - over half of those pieces was shared by three outlets - gradski.me, aktuelno.me, and antena.net.
Main message of the pieces that supported the Serbian World was that it is the concept intended to help the Serbs in the region. However, the more particular messages, the sub- narratives, pointed out to the fact that this concept is not precisely defined, very fluent and highly dependent on the person interpreting it. There are calls for the “Serbs in the region to be united” but as well the claims that “Montenegro, Serbia and Republika Srpska should be integrated in one country”. The most prominent advocate of the last sub-narrative is the historian, Aleksandar Rakovic.
One third of the content supportive of the Serbian World was shared by two Montenegrin outlets - in4s.net and borba.me.
Although the vast majority of content actually had the negative sentiment about the Serbian World, it would be wrong to interpret it as a consensual feeling in the public. Most of the pieces sharing the negative (and positive) sentiment were either opinion pieces or interviews- meaning that they were predominantly based upon the opinion and attitude of one person. Also, the half of the content was published by only few outlets whose editorial policies are strongly politically profiled. Although the interest for the topic was relatively high, this did not provoke any balanced and serious debate on Serbian World but only deepened the division in the two sides- the one for and the one against.
This project was financed by the German Federal Government.