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MOSCOW, July 23. /TASS/. Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin has praised Thursday the "brave and decisive step" of French parliamentarians who decided to visit Crimea.
"I have highly assessed your decisive and even to some extent brave step," Naryshkin told the French delegation led by by National Assembly deputy and co-chairman of the French-Russian Dialogue association Thierry Mariani.
The speaker added that it is important "not just to support, but also to develop political dialogue between our countries in order to help the Normandy Quartet do everything necessary for restoration of peace in Ukraine." "Dialogue is necessary to restore multi-faceted cooperation between Russia and France, because our cooperation is also affected by the crisis of lack of trust in Europe," he concluded.
A parliamentary delegation from France will arrive on a two days' 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.
Thierry Mariani said he regrets Kiev’s statements about possible sanctions against French parliamentarians for visiting Crimea.
"If Ukraine’s foreign minister bans us from entering Ukraine, it will be in line with his authority," Mariani told journalists after a meeting with Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin. "But if sanctions are imposed for sanctions, what will this lead to?" he wondered.
"In any case, I was not planning on going to vacation in Ukraine. But I would regret it [sanctions] because I love Ukraine," Mariani said adding that he is very concerned about the situation in the country.