04:57 GMT +320 October 2018
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    'Russian Sanctions are Foolish and Go Against Interests of France' - French MP

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    The closure of the Business France mission in Russia, French investments, sanctions and the World Cup. Maurice Leroy, vice president of the National Assembly of France, discusses Franco-Russian ties with Sputnik and explained why it is necessary to come to Russia to understand the politics of Vladimir Putin.

    The closure of Business France in Russia

    The interest that the two countries have in each other remains strong and prevails over politics. That's according to French politician Maurice Leroy, who attended the Moscow Urban Forum.

    "France is interested in investing, its companies are investing in Moscow and Russia, and we are also open for investment in France."

    Indeed, France remains the second largest European investor in Russia, after Germany. At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in May, Vladimir Putin estimated that France invested €15 billion.

    READ MORE: Rome to Be 'One of the First' to Support Lifting Anti-Russia Sanctions — Salvini

    The closure of Business France, which worked under the auspices of the French Embassy in Moscow and Russia, "will not have major consequences" on economic ties between the two countries, Mr Leroy believes.

    "I believe in our connections. In addition, President Putin and President Macron support, as they say in the Foreign Ministry, direct and sincere relations, in spite of some disagreements."

    EU anti-Russian Sanctions

    Mr Leroy stressed that imposing sanctions on Russia has hurt France's own economic well-being.

    "I am against the embargo (anti-Russian sanctions). I believe that this is foolish, that it goes against the interests of France. […] After the introduction of sanctions, instead of importing French agricultural products such as porkpork, the Russians decided: we will produce them ourselves. And our farmers suffer from this, not the leaders. The same goes for fruits, vegetables, as well as cheese."

    The vice president of the National Assembly also recalled the 2016 vote, when French lawmakers vote for lifting EU sanctions against Russia.

    READ MORE: US Unlikely to Lift Sanctions Soon But Dialogue Needed — Russian Investment Fund

    "I spoke about this in the National Assembly and I have the right to say this in Moscow. Let me remind you that under the previous President, most French MPs voted against the position of the French government, rejecting the embargo," he said.

    'Something happened at this World Cup'

    Mr. Leroy described the international football fans as the true ambassadors of Russia.

    "The French who come here are the real ambassadors of Moscow and Russia. I am sure that these hundreds of thousands of fans will talk about Moscow, about the changes. They will pass it on better than the official ambassadors, because they have learned a lot about the country during this wonderful World Cup."

    He also praised the excellent organization of the FIFA 2018 World Cup, saying that it has opened up Moscow and Russia.

    "Moscow has become a more open, more hospitable city. Everything was done with soul. At this championship, something happened that does not have a political or administrative context, something that reflects the soul of the sport, friendship between nations — on the streets, in bars, in hotels, in restaurants, in stadiums, etc. And there were no incidents. […] The organization was ideal. I also mean the organization in terms of security, because today the international situation is still very tense. Moscow could have become a target for terrorists, but it didn't and one can only rejoice over this. Therefore, I say "bravo" to Moscow and to the Russian authorities, but also to the residents — residents of Moscow and Russia. […] Something real has happened, a real friendly bond has formed, and I believe in it," he concluded.

    The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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