Foreign Minister condemns 'disgrace' of French Crimea visit

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Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said Sunday he was unhappy about a visit of French members of parliament to Russian-occupied Crimea.

Writing on his Twitter account, Rinkevics said:

On July 23 a group of 10 members of the opposition Republican party holding seats in the French Senate left for Crimea.

Among them was a former Transport Minister in the government of Nikolas Sarkozy, Thierry Mariani who told reporters Crimea was a place where "people are not forced to do anything" and said he hoped to contribute to an improvement in the image of the occupied peninsula. 

Mariani also congratulated officials on the referendum - heavily criticised elsewhere - that controversially rubber-stamped Crimea's secession from Ukraine.

The visit by the MPs was unofficial and was condemned by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who said entering Crimea without the permission of Ukraine "means recognition of Moscow's claims."

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