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 16 billion euros to 23 billion euros. 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.