Eleven French parliamentarians, led by deputy of the French National Assembly, co-chairman of the Association Franco-Russian Dialogue Thierry Mariani are departing for Crimea on Friday on a three-day visit to meet with the local authorities and residents of the peninsula, as well as take part in the celebrations on the occasion of Russia’s Navy Day.
This will be the second trip of the French lawmakers to the peninsula after its reunification with Russia. The delegation, the same as last year, will be accompanied by the head of the Russian Peace Foundation, Chairman of the State Duma CIS Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky. The Foreign Ministry of the French Republic has again objected to the French parliamentarians’ visit to Crimea.
"The delegation will comprise half of those who had visited Crimea last year, as well as six people who will travel there for the first time," Thierry Mariani said on Thursday. In particular, among the officials who will visit Crimea for the first time, he said, will be head of the French delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michel Voisin.
Mariani added that "despite the intimidation and the international situation," his colleagues "are interested in seeing the things as they are." According to Mariani, a total of some 30 French parliamentarians would like to go to Crimea.
Among the issues the French parliamentarians intend to discuss in Crimea is the status of the Crimean Tatar population and the state of the peninsula’s economy, Leonid Slutsky said. "The most pressing issues for the European public include the Crimean Tatars status, the construction of the Kerch Bridge and the state of the economy. These and many other issues will be discussed during the visit," he said.
The lawmaker expressed confidence that "it will be a landmark visit for Crimea, Sevastopol and the Russian-French inter-parliamentary cooperation," which, in his opinion, "does not stop, despite the sanctions, despite the position of the official authorities of the French Republic."
The program of the trip includes a meeting with the head of Crimea Sergey Aksenov, Chairman of the republic’s State Council Vladimir Konstantinov, Crimean Prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya, visiting the Krasny Memorial, the French military cemetery, as well as the Alliance Francaise cultural center. And on July 31 - Russian Navy Day, the French delegation will meet the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Admiral Alexander Vitko and take part in the Navy Day festive events in Sevastopol. The French parliament will return to Moscow on the same day, closer to midnight.
A group of 10 deputies and senators of the French parliament, also led by Mariani, visited Crimea last summer contrary to the French Foreign Ministry’s recommendations. It was the first visit of West European parliamentarians to the peninsula after its accession to Russia. Then the visit caused a negative reaction in the West, and all the delegation members had been declared persona non grata in Ukraine.
First published by TASS.
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