"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.
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."
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.
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.