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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK

World: Europe

'Two in three support strikes'

Nato countries say the alliance is good for peace in Europe

Two thirds of people in Nato countries support the decision to bomb Yugoslavia, according to what claims to be the first international opinion poll on the strikes.

Kosovo: Special Report
But opposition is almost universal in Russia where more than 90% are against the campaign.

And fears of a global conflict are high with 45% of those surveyed in 17 countries saying another world war is very likely or quite likely in the next 10 years.

The poll was commissioned by Britain's Economist magazine and carried out by independent companies in 11 Nato countries and six others.

(Click here for a chart showing the full figures)

The BBC's Nick Higham: A staggering 94% in Russia opposed the bombing
In each case people were asked if they supported or opposed Nato's decision to carry out air and missile attacks against Serb military installations.

In the Nato countries the margin in favour of the campaign was two to one - 61% to 31%.

The strongest support was in Canada, one of the weakest among long-standing Nato members was in Italy, where opinion was evenly balanced for and against.

New Nato members divided

Among the three new Nato members, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, support for the air strikes was patchy.

[ image: 'Nato neo-fascists,' reads this Russian sign]
'Nato neo-fascists,' reads this Russian sign
Only 35% in the Czech Republic backed the campaign, compared with 68% in both Britain and the US.

But the most startling result was from Russia, where just 2% of those interviewed supported the bombing, 94% were against it. Similar opposition was seen in the Ukraine.

In Croatia, a large majority - 82% support the campaign, with only 7% against. Belgrade backed Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia in the wars which followed the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

'Nato is good for peace'

In some countries the survey was carried out before Nato widened its range of targets beyond military installations and before the accidental bombing of a refugee convoy.

[ image: Bridges have been a major target of the strikes]
Bridges have been a major target of the strikes
But the Economist said there was little evidence from other polls of huge shifts in public opinion.

The survey also showed more than three-quarters of Nato countries favour the alliance's expansion into Eastern Europe despite Russian opposition.

With Nato marking its 50th anniversary this weekend, two-thirds of respondents in alliance countries said it had had a "positive effect on European peace and security".

The survey was commissioned from Canadian market research company Angus Reid.

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