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    New EU Legal Norms for Nord Stream 2 Could be Political Discrimination - Lavrov

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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov argues that the EU should not introduce new regulations for Nord Stream 2 as it would mean discrimination against some project's investors.

    Speaking at a briefing with members of the Association of European Businesses (AEB), the foreign minister explained that a possible introduction of new legal practices would be considered by Moscow a discrimination for political reasons.

    Sergei Lavrov also underlined that Moscow regards European Commission's attempts to impose a negotiating mandate for talks on the Nord Stream 2 groundless.

    "This is absolutely groundless, there is no reason to apply the extraterritorial law of the European Union in the Baltic Sea," he said. 

    The statement was made after in June the EC requested a mandate from the Council of the European Union to negotiate the key principles for the operation of the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia. The authority explained that the development of such principles was necessary to avoid the pipeline operating in a legal void, since the operation of the onshore part of the pipeline fell under EU energy rules, the so-called Third Energy Package, while the off-shore portion was outside of the European Union's jurisdiction. 

    Lavrov also mentioned another challenging pipeline project, the Turkish Stream, saying that Russia is ready to work to extend the gas pipeline under this project to other European countries only after obtaining substantial legal guarantees from Brussels.

    READ MORE: Next Door Neighbors Finland, Sweden Divided Over Nord Stream 2

    According to him, the extension of the second line of the Turkish Stream in the territory of the European Union could satisfy the growing needs of the southern and south-eastern Europe.

    "We see great interest to this issue from a number of EU governments. And you are ready for this, but given the unsuccessful experience with the South Stream, we will be ready to start such work on the Turkish Stream, its lead-in in the EU only after obtaining solid legal guarantees from Brussels," Lavrov said.

    Lavrov stressed that Russia is open to developing relations with the European Union at the pace to which they are ready in Brussels. 

    He mentioned that French President Emmanuel Macron has accepted an invitation to visit Russia and in particular the St Petersburg International Economic Forum next May.

    US Sanctions

    The Russian foreign minister also touched upon the anti-Russian sanctions, calling them an attempt to drive the country away from the European energy and armaments market.

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    "Under the pretext of fighting the Russian threat, Washington is trying to patch up the so-called Transatlantic solidarity, not only make Europeans raise their defense spending, but also advance its economic and energy positions in Europe, move aside our joint energy projects, move Russia aside on the arms market. This is the aim of the latest portion of sanctions," Lavrov told a briefing.

    Sergei Lavrov has reiterated the Moscow's position on the sanctions against the country and the recent tensions around the Russian diplomatic property in the US.

    "I hope everyone understands the laws of diplomacy, when reciprocity is simply a mandatory rule. And I hope if you compare the actions taken by the United States since Obama, and then even at Trump, who was forced to swim in this stream of not very clean water, and compare to our response, I hope you understand that we tried to be as restrained as possible, observing, of course, the basic norms of diplomatic relations," Lavrov said.

    The minister noted that the situation with the reduction of staff of Russian diplomatic agencies in the US and the US in Russia 'does not bring us joy'. Lavrov has described the December 2016 sanctions as a 'crazy whirlwind, started by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate (then-president Barack Obama)', adding that currently, Donald Trump cannot stop this policy, despite his desire to normalize relations with Russia.

    READ MORE: Former GOP Senator Says US President Suffers From ‘Personality Disorder'

    According to him, this stimulus given by Obama has influenced both Democrats and Republicans and each of them striving to achieve its internal political goals inside the US, using this issue as a pretext.

    Donbass Issue

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has expressed regrets that the United States, represented by Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker, is proposing the exclusion of representatives of Donbass from the negotiation process on the Ukrainian settlement. Lavrov views Volker's statements as a contradiction to the efforts made in the Normandy format.

    "Most recently [Volker] was in Kiev, where he made a number of statements, from which it became clear which alternative to our project curators of the Ukrainian authorities were preparing. Mr. Volker said that it was necessary for peacekeepers… to occupy the entire Donbas, encircle it, and only then the US will support President [Petro] Poroshenko in his actions to implement all obligations, including the announcement of an amnesty, giving Donbas a special status according to [German President Frank-Walter] Steinmeier's formula and holding elections," the minister said.

    North Korea

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has also recalled the recent Dunford's statement on North Korea.

    “Today or yesterday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. [Joseph] Dunford said that if there was an order to use force on the Korean Peninsula, he does not rule out that he would do it without the authorization of the Congress. It is a rather alarming statement,” Lavrov told a briefing with the Association of European Businesses (AEB) in Moscow.

    The minister stressed that no military force can be used in the peninsula without South Korea's approval.

    “South Korean President [Moon Jae-in] told us that the United States could not exercise military force without consulting with South Korea. I hear rather different statements from Washington, which do not convince that any approval, any advice and, of course, any permission would be asked for,” Lavrov said.

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    Nord Stream-2, Sergei Lavrov, Russia
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