MOSCOW (Sputnik) — A French delegation’s visit to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea is a message of solidarity to their “Russian friends,” to show that many French politicians are against the EU policy of anti-Moscow sanctions, former French Transport Minister and current member of parliament Thierry Mariani told Sputnik Thursday.
“It’s important because I think that it is a message, first to our good friends in the [Russian State] Duma that we have known for such a long time,” Mariani said, adding that a lot of politicians and ordinary people in France are against the sanctions imposed by the West against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis.
On Thursday, a delegation of French lawmakers, headed by Mariani, will arrive in Crimea for a trip that will last until July 26. According to Mariani, the main goal of the visit is to find out the truth about recent developments in Crimea, as Western media has only given a one-sided account of events since its reunification with Russia.
Following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March 2014, Moscow's relations with the West, including France, deteriorated. The European Union, together with the United States and some of their other partners, imposed a series of sanctions against Russia over its alleged violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Moscow has rejected the allegations, saying that all of its actions were in accordance with international law.
The French parliamentarians' visit is the first high-profile visit by Western politicians to Crimea since the peninsula rejoined Russia after a referendum, where some 96 percent of voters who turned out cast their ballots in favor of reunification with Russia.