Updated 12:59 p.m. Moscow Time
MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia expects that the European Commission will pay attention to interests of the European population and businesses while considering the South Stream gas pipeline project, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.
"We expect the European Commission to reject politically biased approaches to the construction of this gas pipeline and will take into account interests of the EU population and businesses, including the stance of participating states, who have repeatedly spoken in favor of its implementation," Lavrov said.
Russia's Gazprom energy giant started building the South Stream gas pipeline across the Black Sea in 2012 to reduce the unreliable passage of Russian natural gas to central and southern Europe through Ukraine. The pipeline is expected to be fully operational by 2018.
The South Stream pipeline route is expected to come ashore in Bulgaria and continue to Serbia, where it is to split in two, with the first branch going through Hungary to Austria and the second through Hungary and Slovenia to Italy. Under the plan, branches are also to be constructed in Croatia and the Bosnian Serb Republic.
Intergovernmental agreements were earlier signed with Serbia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Austria and Croatia in order to implement the construction of the pipeline's onshore sections. However, in August, Bulgaria suspended operations, saying that they did not meet European Commission requirements.
Brussels has long been trying to hamper the project saying it violates EU's Third Energy Package, which stipulates that pipelines in its member countries cannot belong to natural gas producers. Moscow insists that the construction of the pipeline does not contradict the regulations in any way.