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SIMFEROPOL, January 18. /TASS/. Head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov has invited Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front and its party’s presidential nominee, to visit the Peninsula. The invitation comes after Le Pen recently pledged to recognize the Republic of Crimea as part of Russia if she was elected president of France.
"I invite Marine Le Pen to visit our peninsula!" the head of Crimea wrote on his Facebook page. In his opinion, Le Pen has obtained a wise and a far-sighted position "worthy of a renowned politician form a great country."
"Unlike her many European peers, who either act on instructions received from Washington and Brussels, or are blinded by their hatred for Russia, Madame Le Pen puts reality in perspective and focuses on France’s interests. Besides, she seems to have a good knowledge of the history of Russia and Crimea," Aksyonov noted.
He pointed out that some French parliament members who did not belong to the National Front, nevertheless shared the politician’s position on Crimea. "In the summer, a delegation of French MPs visited the peninsula which proved to be an important step aimed at breaking the information blockade," the head of Crimea noted.
Aksyonov also said that "Crimea has many friends not only in France, but also in Italy and other European countries as well. "Today, fewer Europeans believe the ‘annexation of Crimea’ myth conjured up by Ukrainian and Western propagandists. Much of the credit should go to people-to-people diplomacy," he wrote.
Marine Le Pen said earlier in an interview with Russia’s Izvestiya daily that she would officially recognize Crimea as part of Russia in case she won the French presidential election. According to her, Crimea belonging to Ukraine was only "an administrative matter during Soviet times, but the Peninsula has never been Ukrainian." The politician also regretted that the world community and the United Nations had not taken into account the referendum conducted in Crimea to demonstrate the people’s will.
After Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in a coup in February 2014, mass protests began in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. On March 16, 2014, Crimean authorities conducted a referendum on reuniting with Russia. Over 80% of voters participated in the plebiscite, most of them supporting the idea (96.7% in Crimea and 95.6% in the city of Sevastopol).
On March 18, the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia was signed by President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Federal Assembly (upper house of parliament) approved the document on March 21. However, despite the referendum’s convincing outcome, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.