The Serbian government has announced it is rejecting the latest EU-mediated proposal on normalizing ties with Kosovo.
Prime Minister Ivica Dacic told reporters on April 8 that the offer fell short of Serb demands.
"By participating in the dialogue so far, and its readiness for compromise, the government of Serbia has shown its sincere determination to achieve an overall agreement," he said. "The government of Serbia cannot accept principles which have been verbally offered to its negotiation team, because they do not guarantee full security, survival, and protection of human rights of members of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija."
Belgrade has not said exactly what the latest proposal contains, but it had been seeking broad autonomy for the 50,000 ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo.
Dacic also expressed Belgrade's willingness to continue negotiating.
"The government of Serbia is in favor of an urgent resumption of dialogue with representatives of temporary institutions of self-government in Pristina, mediated by the European Union," Dacic said. "The government of Serbia hereby confirms its resolve that by peaceful means, through dialogue, one achieves a sustainable solution which will represent a solid foundation for building permanent peace and enabling full security for all people living in Kosovo and Metohija."
In Brussels, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief who has mediated the talks between Belgrade and Pristina, expressed regret over the decision and urged Serbia "to make a last effort to reach an agreement."
A spokeswoman for Ashton, Maja Kocijancic, said Belgrade needed to make clear what it wants.
"We've seen the reports from Belgrade and they say that Serbia has rejected the proposals but is committed or wants to see further dialogue immediately and in this context we would like them to explain what they want," Kocijancic said. "We have been discussing the issues on the table for a long time. The elements, we believe, are there. We don't have much time so they need to make it clear what they actually want."
Ashton is due to issue a progress report on April 16. The EU will decide, based in part on that report, whether to open accession talks with Serbia in June.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has been recognized by more than 90 countries, including the United States and 22 of the EU's 27 members.
Serbia says it will never recognize the secession. For many Serbs, Kosovo is the cradle of their nation and Orthodox Christian faith.
Based on reporting by AFP and AP