Christian Estrosi. Photo: ajib.fr
Christian Estrosi, head of the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and mayor of Nice, has called the Crimean city of Yalta as belonging to the Russian Federation and signed a letter of intention and renewal of friendly relations with Yalta.
As reported by Ukrinform, the delegation of the so-called “mayor of Yalta” had been on a visit to Nice from 26 February to 1 March. The visit had taken place with the participation of Aleksander Orlov, ambassador of Russia to France.
A statement on Estrosi’s official site mentioned that “the first visit of the official delegation of the official delegation of Yalta (Crimea) to Europe after the referendum on independence and joining Russia is a highly symbolic step.”
Moreover, a letter of intention of developing friendly relations between the two cities was signed during the meeting, according to the statement: “Following the signing of the Sister City Agreement between Yalta and Nice on 26 November 1960, the mayor of Nice, in the presence of the ambassador of Russia in France, met with the mayor of Yalta Andrew Postenko to sign a letter of intent for the development of friendly relations and restoration of twin-city relations between Yalta and Nice.”
Commenting the visit, Estrosi mentioned to the local TV channel Azur TV that “Yalta is situated in Crimea and is part of the Russian Federation. And the French-Russian friendship that we have between Nice and Russia is a great opportunity to strengthen the connections by signing a letter of intentions to restore sister-city relations between Nice and Yalta.”
A tweet from Christian Estrosi shows scenes from the visit, including the signing of the letter.
— Christian Estrosi (@cestrosi) February 29, 2016
Christian Estrosi is a member of the opposition center-right party of the Republicans party, led by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He has repeatedly expressed his support for the Russian Federation and criticized the reluctance of French authorities to supply the Mistral warships to France.
The French embassy has not yet reacted to Estrosi’s statements, which contradict the official position of the French government, the EU, and UN.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian ambassador to France Oleg Samshur has sent a letter in which he condemned the visit of the “so-called ‘mayor’ of Yalta.” The letter, sent on 2 March 2016, stresses that Mr.Estrosi “should know that that the annexation of Crimea is condemned by the international community as a flagrant violation of international law and fundamental principles of European security, that France is in the avant-garde of the diplomatic efforts to support the Ukrainian sovereignty, that the representatives of the occupation authorities are under sanctions, and that the occupation has given rise to massive violation of human rights particularly those of Crimean Tatars. It underlines that, as Mr.Estrosi is an experienced politician, it is clear that this was a deliberate initiative that goes against the position of the international community, of France and democratic values, and that the presence of the ambassedor of Russia, the occupant county at the this meeting is even more striking. The letter requests him to clarify publicly if he supports the annexation of Crimea, in violation of international law.
In February 2014, unmarked Russian soldiers occupied Ukrainian territory and initiated the takeover of government buildings in the Crimean peninsula. On 16 March 2014, a so-called “referendum” was held in Crimea, following which the territory was attached to Russia. On 24 March 2014, 100 countries, including France, adopted the UN Resolution 68/262 that affirms the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
After Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the self-proclaimed authorities had engaged in numerous repressions against its indigenous population, the Crimean Tatars, which some commentators have called a “hybrid genocide.”