Today, the Serbian government rejected an EU-brokered deal regarding the status of Serbians living in Kosovo. The rejection of the deal may prove to be a major step backwards for Belgrade's hopes of joining the EU.
Serbia lost control of Kosovo in the 1998-99 war, and to date Kosovo has been recognised by more than 90 countries, including 22 of the EU's 27 member states. Though Serbia is offering to recognise the existence of Kosovo, it has stated that the current terms proposed by the EU do not grant a suitable level of autonomy to Serbians living in Kosovo.
The EU is prepared to continue negotiations with the Serbian government despite their rejection of the recently brokered deal. Indeed, Serbia is calling for "an urgent continuation of dialogue" in the hope that relations with the EU do not break down completely over this issue.
The Serbian government had been warned by the Orthodox Catholic Church not to accept the deal on offer.
The secession of Kosovo has long been a sticking point in Serbia's relationship with the rest of Europe. NATO has been unable to withdraw its 6,000 strong peacekeeping force in Kosovo, where frequent violent clashes erupt between Serbs and other ethnicities.