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PARIS, July 30 /TASS/. French weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles on Thursday published an exclusive report about the Crimean voyage of ten French lawmakers who represented both chambers of the French parliament /the Senate and the National Assembly/. Its author described the trip as the "Crimean premiere."
A group of French deputies visited Crimea on July 23-24 for the first time since Crimea reunited with Russia on March 18, 2014. According to the weekly, the official French authorities tried to undermine trust in the lawmakers’ initiative.
The French authorities ought to have seen that French enterprises were the first to be affected by the sanctions imposed on Moscow, the French deputies said. During their visit to Crimea, they spoke about the economic plight of French agricultural producers, who are protesting across France against the consequences of the blockade, which the French authorities imposed on the French economy.
"People (in Crimea) live, work, do shopping and spend their summer vacations. On the whole, they are happy that they managed to avoid social, political and military tensions, which is reigning in Ukraine," Deputy Yannick Moreau said sharing the impressions from his trip to Crimea.
The French lawmakers became convinced that Crimea had avoided war and anarchy unlike many trouble spots in Ukraine, the magazine went on to say. "The military and police presence was moderate. The people of Crimea did not look like they were leaving under occupation. On the contrary, they were happy that they had made their choice in favour of Russia and could now live in peace," the report’s author who accompanied the French lawmakers on their Crimean voyage said.
An ordinary walk, which the French deputies took on embankment of the Crimean resort town of Yalta, turned into a true public jubilation. "The French deputies were greeted, hugged and given a hero’s welcome for the whole hour," the Valeurs Actuelles reporter said.
The French government had condemned the French lawmakers for their trip to Crimea. "But in fact it helped restoring balance in relations with Russia," the French weekly said. It concluded the report with a promise given by Thierry Mariani, who led the French delegation to Crimea.
"We will be back. One cannot argue with History," he said.
"The conclusion we have drawn from our visit to Crimea is that we did not see any occupational troops or armed men. The people here are free. Over the past few days we have had a chance to see that it is a peaceful region and that the people here are happy," Mariani told a news conference upon completion of the two-day visit to Crimea a week ago.
"It is necessary to visit a place yourself in order to understand how things are," the French lawmaker stressed.
Commenting on the position of Crimean Tatars during his stay in Sevastopol, Mariani said they did not look unhappy at all.
"Lots of distorted information is roaming around Europe. I met Crimean Tatars in Yalta. They did not look unhappy at all. On the contrary, they invited me to attend their forum and said that after Crimea’s reunification with Russia their language was granted official status," Mariani said.
The French lawmaker said that he did not regret that he had come to Crimea. "I am very happy to be here," Mariani said in Russian as he met Crimean deputies last week. 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).
The French deputies stayed in Crimea for two days. They met the leaders of the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol. In Sevastopol, the French guests visited several museums, including a French war memorial.
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 from Ukraine 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.