At least one country should say ‘enough’ – French MP Thierry Mariani on anti-Russia sanctions

French ministers attend the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, April 26, 2016 © Charles Platiau
Member of the Republicans Party in France Thierry Mariani, who initiated the parliamentary debate on calling the EU to end restrictive policies against Moscow, told RT that it was time to show some ‘guts’ and confront Brussels.

"We are demanding to lift the sanctions because they are totally ineffective and they are dangerous for our economy," the member of the center-right party said during the French National Assembly meeting on Thursday.

Fifty-five members in the lower house of the French Parliament apparently agreed and supported the resolution calling on the government to protest the EU extending sanctions imposed on Russia.

"Let's say it clearly: lifting of the sanctions is necessary, desirable and we are demanding the government take measures at national and European levels to rapidly improve the difficult situation we are in now," Marc Le Fur, member of France's Union for a Popular Movement, told the Assembly.

READ MORE: ‘Disenchantment in France as Russian sanctions backfire’

French politician Marion Marechal-Le Pen (whose aunt Marine Le Pen heads France's National Front and is a member of the European Parliament), called "this embargo... a failure," adding "it didn't give the expected results."

"Repressive measures against Russian oligarchs didn't lead to resistance to Vladimir Putin and European economies are those suffering most from the sanctions," Marechal-Le Pen said at the meeting. She also noted that while the US has canceled some embargoes on Russia that hurt its own interests "and are ordering Russian-made engines to launch its [American] military satellites," Paris has suffered big financial losses, highlighting the failed Mistrals deal in particular.

France's agriculture has also suffered significantly, as Russia replied tit-for-tat to sanctions and imposed a ban on agricultural products from the EU. Despite the French government's attempts to provide financial aid, farmers in a number of sectors have found themselves with a surplus of produce and have suffered big financial losses.

Having called the vote "historic," another MP, member of the Union for a Popular Movement Nicolas Dhuicq, told RT its positive result is "good news for peace in Europe, and for economic development" on the continent.

READ MORE: French farmers protest at prices driven down by Russia sanctions

Although the approved resolution is non-binding, French politicians hope that it will pave the way for European governments, including theirs, to end the anti-Russian sanctions. These were first introduced in 2014 over the crisis in Ukraine and Russia's reunification with Crimea.

"Let's be honest here: it's up to Europe to decide, and in order for it to do so one country must have the guts to say 'enough, I'm out!' If Europe shows Kiev that we are no longer the prisoners of its government, that after all we have paid the price of solidarity, we introduced the sanctions and it's time to lift them since they do no good and they only hurt us, I guess then and only then things are going to improve," Thierry Mariani told RT before the vote.

"I have seen our minister of agriculture standing in front of our farmers and say 'We have to lift the sanctions.' I've seen the minister of finance reiterate the same thing. And all they do is say 'We can't do anything, Europe is to blame'," the MP added, saying that while he is "part of the opposition," regarding this matter he wants "to help the government."  

France's former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, under then president Nicolas Sarkozy, told RT that he has "always considered the policy of sanctions against Russia as a negative policy," and expressed hope that the resolution would "let the government advance with the process of lifting the sanctions."

"The majority of French people today are for the lifting of these sanctions, and the leftist majority in the parliament could not interfere with the opposition's voting. When it really wants to [interfere], it does so. But today it didn't and I think the reason is because socialist deputies understand very well that these sanctions negatively affect [France's] national interests, as well as Russia's," Fillon said.

"This is an extremely important vote, because for the first time a parliament of a European country is voting for the lifting of the sanctions. And what's more, this country is France, one of the key countries of the Minsk agreements. So it gives a strong signal to the government that it must accelerate negotiations to lift the sanctions, particularly economic ones, because they are completely useless," President of the French-Russian Chamber of Commerce Emmanuel Quidet told RT.

Saying "it will be difficult to disregard a vote of the French National Assembly," Quidet expressed hope that other European countries will follow suit. "Other countries [might] lead other types of voting that will go in the same direction," he said.