MOSCOW, August 1 /TASS/. Thierry Mariani, a French National Assembly deputy from the Republicans party and a co-chairman of the Franco-Russian dialogue who visited Crimea last week together with a delegation of French lawmakers, said on Monday that the rights of the Tatars and other ethnic minorities were fully observed in his view.
Mariani told a news conference organized at TASS upon the French deputies’ return from Crimea that the delegation had paid special attention to the rights of ethnic minorities and political prisoners on the peninsula. "As you may know, the rights of ethnic minorities is a major issue for Europe. They [ethnic minorities] are often subject to discrimination," Mariani explained.
"A year ago it was said that Russia had annexed Crimea against the will of a certain part of the population. That is why when we were there [on the peninsula], we asked questions about the Tatar and Jewish people and prisoners," Mariani said adding they were fully satisfied with the answers they had heard.
"When we see that the Tatar language becomes an official language and when special schools with instruction in Tatar are being built, I strongly believe that the future of the Tatar people is with Crimea, which is part of Russia," Mariani said.
"Given that the Russian-speaking population is subject to pressure in certain countries, I can say I have more confidence in the future of Tatars in Crimea than in the future of Russians, for example, in Latvia," the French politician said.
According to him, this time like a year before the French deputies had encountered difficulties and even threats. "The visit took place against all the odds. Sixteen MPs from France have now visited Crimea to see the situation with their own eyes," Mariani concluded. He called on everybody who describes Crimea as an occupied territory to go there to become convinced that it is not true.
Eleven deputies of the French National Assembly led by Thierry Mariani, paid a three-day visit to Crimea on July 29-31 for the second time after Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March 2014.