Mariani’s visit to Crimea shame for France – French citizen

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2015/07/23 • Op-ed

The visit to Crimea of a delegation of ten French opposition parliamentarians led by Mr. Mariani is unjustifiable. If Mariani, from the same political party as former President Sarkozy, wants to travel to Moscow and maintain working relations with the Duma, this may be understandable. Anyone would agree that it would be foolish to cut all diplomatic and cultural ties with Russia. Even Kyiv maintains formal ties with Putin’s government despite the fact that the Kremlin finances and maintains war in the Donbas region. However, Mariani’s trip to Crimea, carried out without the approval of the French and Ukrainian governments, is a scandal and bolsters Putin’s nationalist and aggressive policy in Ukraine. For it would be very naive of Monsieur Mariani to believe that his visit was not interpreted by Russian media propaganda as a validation of the annexation of the peninsula. The ten French MPs, travelling partly at the expense of French taxpayers, will join with the official delegations of Zimbabwe, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the outrageous annals of history.

All people have the right to self-determination. However a referendum takes weeks or months to organise so that a real debate can take place with members of the public fully aware of the issues and what is at stake. We saw recently the democratic farce with the Greek referendum. The plebiscite organised by Moscow on 16 March 2014, fifteen days after the military occupation of the peninsula by Russian troops breached any elementary rule of democracy. If Mr. Mariani believed that he would meet representatives of free opinion from the Tatar and Ukrainian communities of Crimea in Yalta, then he is very gullible. Hopefully at least he will manage to get the French military cemetery of Sevastopol weeded.

To the Ukrainian people who have been fighting for a country without corruption, for the rule of law, European solidarity, a prosperous and peaceful continent, for the unity of their country, guaranteed by the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 – signed by Russia – I want to express my shame as a French citizen to witness representatives of the French Republic, homeland of the declaration of human rights, “indivisible” by her constitution, posing all smiles before cameras alongside the architects of the unlawful annexation of Crimea, denounced by 100 countries of the international community; architects who are furthermore responsible for the war in the Donbas (thus indirectly accountable for the Far Right’s rise both in Russia and Ukraine), responsible for the dismantling of Georgia and the extremely dangerous diplomatic, legal and military tensions with the Baltic countries.

pierre

Pierre Scordia is a lecturer at University College London (London, UK) and holds a MPhil in History (University of Nottingham)

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