Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic vowed to never recognise Kosovo after refusing to sign an EU-backed deal aimed at normalising ties between the rivals, following failed talks this week that aimed to deliver a breakthrough.
Brussels hosted the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia on Monday, as the European Union ramped up pressure on the long-time bitter foes to iron out a pathway for an agreement that would lead to "de-facto" normalisation of ties.
But despite vows that an agreement was close at hand, the talks ended in a stalemate with both sides blaming the other and insisting many issues remained unresolved that would prevent an agreement.
Vucic took to the airwaves late Tuesday where the president told viewers he would never recognise Kosovo and had no plans to help clear their way to United Nations membership.
"As long as I am president, I will not sign or accept either formal or informal recognition of Kosovo or Kosovo joining the United Nations," Vucic said during a televised interview.
Serbia refuses to recognise the unilateral declaration of independence Kosovo made in 2008, and bouts of unrest erupt between local authorities and the Serb minority in the former breakaway province.
The latest round of talks followed months of shuttle diplomacy, nearly 25 years after the war between ethnic Albanian insurgents and Serb forces triggered a NATO bombing campaign that ended the fighting.
Vuvic said he was up for hammering out other issues, but only after Pristina created the Association of Serb Majority Municipalities that would provide Serbs with a degree of autonomy within Kosovo.
"I am open to everything else, not just because it will push us further up the EU path, but because it is good for relations between Serbs and Albanians," he said.
Before Monday's meeting talks, a senior European diplomat said the parties had already accepted the then-unpublished European plan, and that Monday's meeting was to discuss implementation.
However, afterwards Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Vucic railed against the other for the meeting ending in acrimony.
Nevertheless, EU officials published the previously secret European peace plan, drawn up in Paris and Berlin that holds the key to both Pristina and Belgrade's hopes to one day join the bloc.
Kosovo and Serbia leaders are set to meet in neighbouring North Macedonia on March 18 for the next round of talks under EU supervision.
© Agence France-Presse
Your content is great. However, if any of the content contained herein violates any rights of yours, including those of copyright, please contact us immediately by e-mail at media[@]kissrpr.com.