MOSCOW, July 23. /TASS/. Anti-Russian sanctions are harmful to French producers, National Assembly deputy and co-chairman of the "French-Russian Dialogue" association Thierry Mariani said on Thursday at a meeting with Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin.
"The aim of our visit is to continue dialogue. We regret it very much that Russian-French parliamentarian commission did not gather for a session," Mariani said adding that "such meetings were instruments of exchanging opinions."
"The climate is becoming worse at the international level because Minsk agreements are not observed and sanctions are not cancelled," he continued. "French parliamentarians present here, along with many other deputies, are against sanctions. We are very concerned about the events in Ukraine," Mariani noted.
"We decided to go to Crimea because it joined Russia more than a year ago. This is a good time to see what is going on there and how people feel," the parliamentarian said adding that "Crimea’s accession to Russia is a decided matter for us."
Mariani noted the destructive effect of sanctions. "French producers are protesting, meat producers are protesting," he said. "Sanctions affect French producers. This underlines the foolishness of sanctions policy provoked by the United States," he added.
A parliamentary delegation from France arrived for a two-day visit to the Crimean peninsula on July 23. The delegation includes more than 10 members of the French National Assembly and the Senate. During their visit to Yalta and Sevastopol, French lawmakers are expected to meet Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov and chairman of Crimea's State Council Vladimir Konstantinov.
Mariani, who leads the French delegation, told Russian Kommersant newspaper on Tuesday that parliamentarians had not consulted with the Ukrainian authorities before the trip. "French deputies are free to make their own decisions," Mariani said.
Crimea, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
In mid-March last year, Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum. More than 82% of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96% backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favor of reuniting with Russia.
Results of the referendum were celebrated by many Crimeans but the vote was widely criticized by Western leaders and at the United Nations.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimean region, along with Sevastopol, to Ukraine's jurisdiction for purposes of logistics.