The European Union will not sign a pact on ties with Serbia this Thursday. The two sides were to have signed a deal on trade, visas and education.
But nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica blocked the move.
Reactions from a disappointed EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn in Brussels:
“I deeply regret the obstruction by certain politicians in Belgrade in blocking the signature. In my view they have really failed to hear the voice of the Serbian people, who voted last Sunday in favour of Serbia’s European future. The invitation remains on the table. We are ready once Serbia is ready.”
Kostunica said the pact held out by the EU was aimed at consoling Serbia for the imminent loss of the breakaway province of Kosovo, and that it undermined his coalition.
EU foreign ministers last week offered the deal short of a full association accord as Belgrade failed to meet the key condition — full cooperation with the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The nationalists are locked in a struggle against Boris Tadic, re-elected on Sunday on a pledge of pursuing EU membership no matter what happens with Kosovo.