SIMFEROPOL, July 23 /TASS/. The Crimean referendum made it possible to avoid the repeat of the Ukrainian scenario on the peninsula, Thierry Mariani, a deputy of the French National Assembly who leads a group of French parliamentarians on a trip to Crimea, said on Thursday.
Mariani said that he had visited the war-torn Donbas region, eastern Ukraine, two months before. "I watched the destruction and human suffering with horror," Mariani said at a meeting with Vladimir Konstantinov, the Crimean parliament speaker, held in Crimea’s capital Simferopol.
According to Mariani, Crimea would have had the same sad fate as Donetsk and Slavyansk if the Crimean parliament had not called for a referendum. "We welcome the courage of the Crimean parliament which managed to make that decision despite the difficult situation and a great danger of further escalation of tensions," he added.
The French lawmaker said that he did not regret that he had come to Crimea. "I am very happy to be here," Mariani told Crimean deputies in Russian. He then smiled and added that the visit had not caused great controversy in France.
He also spoke against the anti-Russian sanctions.
"While the United States is lifting sanctions imposed on Cuba, I do not see any reasons for Europe to preserve its sanctions on Russia," Mariani told journalists after meeting Vladimir Konstantinov, the speaker of Crimea’s State Council (parliament).
He said he had felt the impact of sanctions on his own skin upon his arrival in Crimea. "Our telephones are not working because European companies are refusing to operate in this area," he said.
Mariani repeated that the purpose of the French deputies’ trip was to get firsthand information about what’s going on in Crimea. "The purpose of our trip is to talk to the people and understand what’s going on. I do not see any reasons for being panicky," he added.
The French lawmaker also shared his first impressions of Crimea. "The weather is fine, and there are no people in military uniforms," he said.
Mariani emphasized that the current visit was another proof of the freedom and independence of deputies. "Our delegation comprises representatives of both leftist and rightist parties. But irrespective of our political orientation, we adhere to the views of Charles de Gaulle who believed that the will of the people was above all," he explained commenting on the Crimean referendum.
On March 11, 2014, the Supreme Council of Crimea and the Sevastopol City Council adopted a declaration on the independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol amidst political crisis and the change of power in Ukraine. More than 80% of Crimean inhabitants voted in a referendum that took place on March 16, 2014: 97% of voters in Crimea and 96% in Sevastopol voted for reunification with Russia. The treaty on Crimea’s and Sevastopol’s reunification with Russia was signed on March 18, 2014. Ukraine, the United States and the European Union refused to recognize Crimea’s independence and its accession to Russia.