Lavrov Warns of EU's 'Dangerous' Behavior Toward Russia

World » RUSSIA | January 26, 2016, Tuesday // 12:01
Bulgaria: Lavrov Warns of EU's 'Dangerous' Behavior Toward Russia Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during his news conference in Moscow, Russia, January 26, 2016. EPA/BGNES

EU member states are increasingly complaining of the EU's policies of unilateral decision-making, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

During his annual news conference on foreign policy, he asserted that while Russia had ever sought antagonism with the EU, there were differences in the positions of the EU Commission and member states.

The abandoned South Stream pipeline, which was to supply Central Europe with gas via Bulgaria and Serbia, was cited as an example, alongside the Belene nuclear power plant and the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline project.

Between 2010 and 2015, two governments of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (2009-2013 and the acting one which took over in November of 2014) abandoned a total of three large infrastructure projects Bulgaria was to build together with Russia.

South Stream in particular triggered a warning from the EU Commission, forcing Sofia to block construction permits.

"This EU Commission, which is composed of EU Commissioners is such a bureaucratic structure which, like any other bureaucratic structure, wants to reproduce itself, to assert itself," Lavrov opined, throwing again on Brussels the blame for South Stream's demise.

His reiteration of criticism on the fate of the project, which was halted back in 2014, came amid reports (subsequently denied) that Sofia and Moscow were seeking to bring South Stream back to life.

"We cannot expect to change the attitudes in Brussels toward South Stream [but] we have started to search for an alternative because Europe needs Russian gas."

But Lavrov explained Russia had "never initiated a contraction of commercial and economic or any other partnership with Bulgaria".

The Foreign Minister added Moscow was interested in a "strong and united" EU, but added such a union had to balance the interests of member states.

In his words, referring to the sanctions imposed by the EU and the US over the Ukraine crisis, the Russian economy had to be "not isolated, but self-sufficient and open to cooperation, based on equality and not on dictate."

He said Russia had to do everything to make sure its economy was not reliant on the whims of this or that group of countries," RIA Novosti agency quotes him as saying.

Lavrov called gas transit via Ukraine "unreliable" and argued that the EU "understands the need of direct supplies of Russian [fossil fuels]".

He hailed the Russian contribution to negotiations on the Syrian conflict, the air offensive against Islamic State and the summer breakthrough in talks on Iran's nuclear program, citing them as examples of foreign-policy successes.

He made clear the Russian intervention in Syria had improved the situation on the ground.

Russia's top diplomat also urged the UN to speak out about what he described as smuggling of oil from Syria to Turkey that is tantamount to trade of Ankara with the Islamic State (IS) group. Last year, Russia accused Turkey of buying oil from IS, amid the souring of rise of between the two countries over the downing of a Russian Su-24 warplane.

Ankara denies the allegations.

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Tags: Burgas-Alexandroupoli, South stream, Boyko Borisov, Sergey Lavrov, Belene, Russia, Bulgaria, EU Commission, Syria, Iran

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