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PARIS, July 27. /TASS/. France’s National Assembly deputy and co-chairman of the "French-Russian Dialogue" association Thierry Mariani has told France Info on Monday he plans to visit Russia again in October with a new delegation of French parliamentarians.
Talking about his visit to Crimea last week, Mariani said: "I led the delegation of 10 National Assembly deputies and senators. However, many more people wanted to go on this trip. I had to refuse them. We will visit Russia in October during another trip."
He noted that "one of the aims of the visit was to support contacts with Russian parliamentarians since no meetings have been held between parliamentarians of the two countries over the last two years due to sanctions." "I wanted to visit Crimea and see for myself how things are going there. One more aim was to visit the burial places of French soldiers in Sevastopol," Mariani added. For many reasons, Crimea has become a "gray zone" because "even mobile networks are switched off there, and Crimean residents cannot obtain visas and visit Europe for technical reasons," he added.
Mariani said that he "did not ask for permission from the French foreign ministry, chairman of the lower house or The Republicans party president Nicolas Sarkozy." "I am a free man, and I acted in accordance with rules and ethical norms of the National Assembly. I do not need any permissions for this, neither from French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius nor from National Assembly President Claude Bartolone," the parliamentarian noted reminding that some time ago, he paid a visit to Iraq despite similarly loud criticism.
"It is necessary to normalize the situation as soon as possible," Mariani said. "There are two options now: either Europe recognizes the results of the referendum [in Crimea] and come to terms with it, or something like a new Hundred Years’ War will emerge, negatively affecting relations in Europe," he noted.
The delegation of French parliamentarians visited Crimea on July 23-24. This is the first visit of West European parliamentarians to Crimea and Sevastopol since March 2014, when the majority of Crimean residents voted to join Russia at a referendum. Mariani said the aim of his trip is to observe the situation on the peninsula.