15:02 GMT04 December 2020
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    SIMFEROPOL (Sputnik) - Thierry Mariani, the head of the Franco-Russian Dialogue Association and the leader of the French delegation that is currently on a visit to Russia's Crimea, praised on Wednesday the development that the peninsula has seen over the past several years.

    "It is very interesting to see how the situation on the ground has changed […] I like it that when you come, you can see changes… All the problems cannot be resolved at once, but we can note a breakthrough in many areas… We see how different state institutions change, how roads change […] Crimea has surged forward thanks to the administration that Russia represents there", Mariani, who has visited Crimea many times, including when it was still Ukrainian, told reporters.

    READ MORE: Fake WaPo Report Rocks DC: Trump Resigns, Flees White House to Crimea

    Mariani recalled that he had headed a group on French-Ukrainian friendship from 2002 to 2007. He stressed that until 2014, when the peninsula rejoined Russia, "no development could be seen," and Crimea was considered a "territory submerged in eternal sleep."

    When asked to comment on the fact that several members of the delegation had lost their posts in France over voicing support to Crimea's reunification with Russia, Mariani said that one should be able to risk to "vindicate one's convictions."

    Mariani has already headed two French delegations that visited Crimea in 2015 and 2016.

    The French delegation includes honorary members of the country’s parliament and representatives of French municipal authorities. Its visit, dated to the fifth anniversary of the peninsula's reunification with Russia, will include meetings with Crimean authorities and members of the youth parliament. The French visitors will also attend a French military cemetery located in Crimea.

    READ MORE: Anonymous Hackers Expose UK Plans to Mine Sevastopol Days Before Crimea Vote

    Crimea rejoined Russia in March 2014, after 97 percent of those participating in a regional referendum voted for the reunification. Ukraine and the majority of Western countries, including France, continue to consider Crimea as a Ukrainian territory.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the issue of Crimea's territorial belonging is "historically closed", since Crimean residents decided to rejoin Russia in accordance with democratic procedures.


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