Russia Calls on EU for New Approach to South Stream

World » RUSSIA | October 14, 2014, Tuesday // 14:02
Bulgaria: Russia Calls on EU for New Approach to South Stream Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during his meeting with members of the Association of European businesses (AEB) in Moscow, Russia 14 October 2014. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Interests of the local population and businesses within the EU in the South Stream pipeline project should be taken into consideration, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced.

The EU should "renounce its politically oriented approach to the construction of this gas pipeline" and will bear in mind "the vital interests of the population and businesses" and also the positions of states which take part, Lavrov said while attending a meeting with representatives of the Association of European Businesses, a Moscow-based non-profit.

Russia's energy giant Gazprom said last week that the price to build South Stream's both offshore and onshore section had to jump by 47 percent, or to EUR 16 B to EUR 23 B. Construction of the pipeline is now frozen in Bulgaria at the behest of Brussels.

The Russian top diplomat added his country still considered the EU to be "a partner", despite the latest unfavorable developments.

"Time has come for the truth, when it should be answered whether Russia and Europe remain strategic partners or are geopolitical rivals," news agency RIA quoted him as saying.

He insisted Moscow was still ready to set up a joint free trade area with Europe.

But, in his words, European capitals are neglecting "the interests of their own people" by using their political and economic tools to support the "party of war" in Kiev.

Lavrov however stressed opportunities to solve the Ukraine crisis were not depleted.

Commenting on Russia's ban on EU-originated food products has nothing to do with "sanctions", but is just an expression of Russia's right to defend its national economic interest. With regard to the European measures against Moscow, they "do not contribute to deescalating the situation in Ukraine," he believes.

He added the Eurasian Economic Community, known as the Eurasian Union, would be in force as of January 1, 2015.

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Tags: Ukraine, pipeline, Bulgaria, EU, free trade area, South stream, AEB, Sergey Lavrov, ban, food products, Eurasian Union

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