French MPs to visit occupied Crimea
A French parliamentary delegation is to pay a two-day visit to the Russian-occupied Crimea on Thursday without agreeing the trip with Ukrainian authorities.
10 deputies of the French National Assembly are coming to Crimea, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant. This is the first visit with such a high parliamentary representation from one of the major European powers to the Russian-occupied Crimea since the territory's illegal annexation.
Thierry Mariani, a deputy of the National Assembly and head of the delegation, told Kommersant about the goals of the trip and the agenda of their visit which comes despite positions of Ukraine’s and France’s foreign ministries.
"We are coming to Moscow on Wednesday night, where we will meet with Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the Russian Duma. After this, we are going to Yalta and Sevastopol. Meeting with local “authorities” and local residents is on the agenda. We want to understand how people live, said Mariani.
It should be noted that, when asked if there were any consultations regarding the visit to the occupied Crimea with the Ukrainian authorities, Mariany said that there were no agreements whatsoever. “In the French Foreign Ministry we were also told that the idea of such a visit would not be supported. But the French deputies are free in making [own] decisions,” Mariani added.
"As for our group, it is divided in two parts. There are people who are coming to assess the situation firsthand, get the information and talk to people. And there are those who acknowledge historical facts: Crimea joining Russia is a fact, and it is final. It was backed by the referendum and it corresponds the reality of history," said the head of the delegation.
However, he stressed that the visit is a private initiative and does not reflect the official position of the French government.