Section: Country Profiles


serbiaCountry experts: Nenad Rava and Jelena Vasiljevic

CITSEE papers on Serbia

Citizenship and belonging in Serbia: in the crossfire of changing nationhood narratives

Author: Jelena Vasiljevic


Drawing on the idea that politics of citizenship mirror specific ideas of nationhood, this paper aims to show how the changing citizenship regimes in Serbia translate the varying narratives and perceptions of nationhood into the realities of political community. The first part of the paper offers a short historical overview of the citizenship regimes practiced in Serbia, with an emphasis upon the socialist regime and the Miloševic regime of the 1990s. Apart from providing necessary historical context, this section offers an insight into the important themes and topoi of Serbian nationhood narratives and their legal and political emanations. The second part deals with post-2000 Serbia and changes within the legal framing of citizenship status as well as the changes (or, in some respects, only partial changes) in the overall political climate. The third section of the paper shows how the current citizenship regime and dominant political narrative imagine Serbia’s political community and accordingly manage groups and identities. Finally, the last segment of the paper briefly discusses the impact of Europeanisation taken both as a process of a political transformation and as a new emerging transformative discourse.

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Serbia: Elusive Citizenship in an Elusive Nation-State

Author: Nenad Rava


This paper focuses on the current citizenship regime in Serbia, with an emphasis on the problematic nexus between citizenship, nation-formation, and state-building. Starting with an overview of main historical developments (with special attention placed on the controversial 1996 Law on Citizenship of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), the study moves toward a thorough analysis of the current citizenship regime. Of particular significance is the return to an ethnic framework in the 2006 Serbian Constitution and the current Serbian Law on Citizenship, and the implications this may have for Serbia’s relationships with its neighbours, especially in those states with a considerable Serb minority. At the end, the report sheds more light on current debates regarding an ethnocentric definition of citizenship, dual citizenship, Kosovo residents, and refugees.

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This paper has been produced in close collaboration with the European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship (EUDO-Citizenship) and has been made available as a EUDO country report on The paper followed the EUDO structure for country reports presenting historical background, current citizenship regimes and recent debates on citizenship matters in the country under scrutiny. 

Click below to access complementary materials on [links to EUDO webpages]

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