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    French Lawmakers to Visit Crimea on July 23-26

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    A delegation of French lawmakers headed by former Minister of Transport and current member of the French National Assembly Thierry Mariani, will visit Crimea on July 23-26.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March 2014, Moscow's relations with the West, including the EU member states, degraded steeply. The French parliamentarians' visit is the first high-profile visit by Western politicians since the peninsula rejoined Russia.

    Despite the fact that 96 percent of Crimeans voted in favor of reunification in a referendum, Kiev and the West have labeled Crimea's secession from Ukraine illegal and introduced a series of sanctions against Russia.

    Piercing Through Media Distortion

    The French delegation aims to examine the situation in Crimea on the ground, as Western media have given a one-sided coverage of events after the reunification with Russia, Mariani told Sputnik France.

    "Everybody knows that part of the information is presented in France and Western countries with a one-sided approach. And the main goal of the visit is to meet with the government representatives and the residents of Crimea… Our goal is to see the real way the things are going, since we have had no information about this region over the past year," the French lawmaker said.

    Mariani added that this will be his first visit to Crimea since 2002, when the region was part of Ukraine.

    Roots Over Politics

    The lawmaker added that historical reality is stronger than politics and claimed Crimea has always been Russian from historic, cultural and demographic perspectives.

    "Crimea is Russian. From the point of view of history, culture and demography. Even despite the fact that it has been part of Ukraine for over two decades, Crimea is Russian."

    Mariani claimed that if Crimea did not reunify with Russia, it would have repeated the fate of another Russian-speaking region — the Donbass. According to UN estimates, over 6,500 people have died in eastern Ukraine as a result of the military operation launched by Kiev authorities in April 2014 to suppress independence supporters in the region.

    "I think Crimea's return to Russia is a historic fact and historic reality. It is not France's position, it is a position of some parliamentarians, it is my personal stance. But the truth of history always wins."

    Sanctions on Agenda

    Mariani noted that Western economic sanctions against Russia and ways to boost cooperation amid the existing restrictions will be discussed during the French delegation's visit to Crimea.

    According to the politician, it is understood by those participating that sanctions are "useless."

    "At some point, Ukraine will have to draw conclusions from history, political events, from the mistakes of its leaders. And the sanctions should be lifted as soon as possible, and this is the best way for the resumption of development in the region in Russia's interests, in the interests of Crimea and in the interests of Ukraine."

    The French lawmaker added that another goal of the visit to Crimea is to figure out how to resume cooperation between French and Russian business in the current circumstances.

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    France, Ukraine, Russia, Donbass, Crimea
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