According to the candidate, two basic and contradictory principles should be taken into consideration when discussing the Crimea issue: respect for borders and the right of the people to self-determination.
"No one can ignore that in terms of history, culture and language Crimea is Russian," Fillon noted.
He also suggested that the problem could be settled with the help of a special UN-brokered international conference.
Earlier, French presidential candidates have already brought up the Crimean issue during their pre-election debates. In particular, while discussing Crimea in late-March, Fillon said that people have a fundamental right to decide on their own future and recalled the case of Kosovo.
In France, Fillon isn't the only politician to have made such controversial statements, according to Mikhail Neyzhmakov, a senior analyst at the Russian Agency for Political and Economic Communications.
"Prior to the first round of the election, almost all French candidates have made risky statements. For example, recently [leader of the right-wing National Front] Marine Le Pen said that Nagorno-Karabakh should be reunited with Armenia. Of course, this was an appeal to the French Armenian community, but for a politician who wants to be elected president it was risky," Neyzhmakov told Radio Sputnik.
He suggested that by doing so, Fillon first of all wants to win more support from voters.
"Currently, the results of the first round are uncertain, and in this situation it is very important to mobilize supporters of a particular candidate. In these terms, Fillon could have made such a statement in a bid to attract those who share his loyal attitude towards Russia as well as those who expect economic benefits from normalizing ties with Russia, for example, French farmers. They don't make up a significant percentage, but this may be an attempt to win their votes," Neyzhmakov said.
Crimea seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in March 2014, after a referendum determined that almost 97 percent of the region's population was in favor of the move. Sevastopol, a politically separate city in the peninsula which also voted on secession, supported the reunification with 95.6 percent of votes.
The referendum was held after the February 2014 coup in Ukraine. Kiev, as well as the European Union, the United States and their allies, did not recognize the move and consider the peninsula to be occupied territory.
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