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Russian lawmaker comments on French National Assembly's resolution to lift sanctions

April 28, 2016, 16:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The resolution backed by the French National Assembly is advisory and non-binding for the French leadership

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Chairman of Russian Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev

Chairman of Russian Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev

© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, April 28. /TASS/. The fact that France’s lower house of parliament voted in favor of lifting European Union sanctions against Russia is very important, chairman of Russian Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said on Thursday.

"The decision, despite its advisory, non-binding character, is very important," Kosachev said. "For the first time politicians of one of the most influential EU countries send a clear signal to the executive branch about the inadmissibility of continuing sanctions against Russia," he noted. The Russian lawmaker reminded that "similar recommendation may be accepted and adopted in a month by the upper house of French parliament, and it will be addressed to the whole European Union, not just France."

Kosachev said that the most important thing now is how the French government will react to the resolution of the lower house of parliament and "to the expected decision of the Senate (upper house)." "Unfortunately, the experience of the Dutch referendum on EU’s association with Ukraine is negative because its result was recently ignored by the government of the Netherlands," he added. "We will see at the example of France whether democracy in Western countries is really ‘the power of people’ or merely unlimited power of officials," Kosachev concluded.

Resolution to influence Paris stance on sanctions 

According to Alexey Pushkov, who chairs the Russian lower house’s foreign affairs committee, the French government will find it hard to ignore the resolution of the National Assembly.

"A rather important and milestone event has occurred - the French parliament voted for revising the sanctions policy against Russia - with 55 votes in favor and 44 votes against," he said.

The Russian lawmaker said the resolution is non-binding like any parliamentarian resolution, but the French government cannot pretend that this document has not been passed and this is becoming a factor of influencing France’s position on sanctions.

"As far as I know, the authors of this resolution are planning to make a request to the government on how it is going to react towards this decision of the National Assembly," Pushkov said.

The politician reminded that French President Francois Hollande and the French government were not among the ardent supporters of the sanctions policy against Russia but they judge from solidarity with other EU countries and first of all the position of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Thursday’s vote shows that the entire French opposition - both the Republicans and other parties - is against the sanctions policy. "This signals a serious shift in the French political opinion, and the ruling Socialist party is in isolation on this issue."

"The French MPs, the opponents of the sanctions policy, have expressed tendency that has grown over the past years in many European countries," Pushkov added.

He also noted that the French parliamentarians have called on the French government to start talks with Russia on lifting the Russian embargo on agricultural goods.

Members of the French parliament voted on Thursday to lift the anti-Russian sanctions. The resolution was adopted at the session of the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. A total of 55 MPs voted in its favor and another 44 lawmakers voted against the document. The vote was attended by only a part of 577 MPs. The resolution is advisory and non-binding for the French leadership.

"Despite the ruling majority’s opposition, the draft was backed by many colleagues at the parliament and should be perceived by the government very seriously," said Nicolas Dhuicq, a member of the Republicans party and the parliamentary commission on national defense and armed forces. "We cannot tolerate any more the multi-billion losses of the French enterprises due to sanctions," he said, stressing that the sanctions have become a heavy burden for the French agriculture."

The resolution of the National Assembly was submitted for the vote by a large group of parliamentarians from the center-right Republicans party led by Thierry Mariani, who co-chairs the French-Russian Dialogue Association. The document "calls on the French government not to extend the restrictive measures and economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union." After the vote, Mariani said the approval of the document came as a "pleasant surprise." "Formally, the government can refuse to implement this resolution, but ignoring it would mean to negate democracy," he said.

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