Speaking on Saturday before supporters at the congress of the Union for a Popular Movement Party (UMP), Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy played a conciliatory note toward Russia, noting that Crimea could not be blamed for choosing to leave Ukraine amidst the turmoil of early 2014.
"We are part of a common civilization with Russia," Sarkozy, who serves as the president of the UMP, noted. "The interests of the Americans with the Russians are not the interests of Europe and Russia," he noted. The former president added that "we do not want the revival of a Cold War between Europe and Russia."
With regard to Crimea's referendum to leave Ukraine and join Russia in March 2014, Sarkozy noted that "Crimea has chosen Russia, and we cannot blame it [for doing so]." He added that "we must find the means to create a peacekeeping force to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine."
On Ukraine's hopes to join the European Union, Sarkozy noted that "Ukraine must preserve its role as a bridge between Europe and Russia. It is not destined to join the European Union."
On March 16, 2014, a referendum carried out in Crimea saw a vast majority of voters choosing to join Russia.