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    November 26, 2015

    France could help rebuild Crimea's infrastructure if Fabius weren't so pig-headed

    Fabius, in charge of international trade...

    Ronald ZONCA
    In Boulevard Voltaire, November 23, 2015

    Translated from French by Tom Winter, November 26, 2015. Note: the author is back in France after spending the last three months in Crimea.
    « State of emergency declared in Crimea» So went the title with which Le Figaro informed us about the cut-off of Crimea's electricity Sunday -- after reminding us that Crimea was "annexed" by Russia. 
    It stems from the destruction of the pylons supporting four high tension lines supplying Crimea. Consequence: two million people are affected. The term blackout doesn't quite apply, since the peninsula has the capacity to provide 50% of its own needs, but this leads to cuts except for essential buildings and installations.
    These attacks by some radicals, who moreover, impede the work of repair crews, demonstrate the weakness of the Kiev authorities face in the face of these "uncontrolled" elements -- to whom they owe the success of the coup that installed them in power.
    The most surprising thing about this affair is the timing, for currently, temperatures are still mild in Crimea. This haste is due to the declaration of Alexander Novak, minister of energy, on November 20.
    In March of this year, Russia signed a contract for an undersea cable with a Chinese company. Placement of this cable, delivered by rail, began, with every discretion, on October 11, by another Chinese company. The capacity of the connection is going to be 400 MW for the first installation, then up to 850 MW for the second.
    Alexander Novak simply declared that the project was on track and that the first installation would be operational before the end of the year. This, combined with the local means of production, will cover Crimea's electrical needs. The second installation, permitting a complete supply from the continental grid will be operational by summer 2016.
    Laurent Fabius, whose ministry includes international trade, is keeping the door closed to our enterprises with his psychorigid attitude.  A savvy diplomat would have maintained some trade relations, like the US and especially China, to their profit. A number of French companies would have been grateful, because this electrical connection is part of Moscow's five-year program for the development of the Crimea.
    Crimea, viscerally Russian, was deliberately ignored by Kiev for the entire 20 years of its administrative attachment. As a result, Crimea has important needs in equipment and infrastructure which would justify more attention from our leaders rather than an embargo like the US's against Cuba.
    After the ouster of Alstom for linking Moscow-Kazan, it seems opportune to stop the killing game and to think about supporting companies in the sectors of construction, sanitation, cable cars, tourism, and the like.
    But a long time has gone by since the state of emergency was declared for our external trade, and the crisis unit is in full blackout. France needs a spark of common sense in the brain of our Foreign Ministry rather than the brain of an "illuminated" in charge of international trade.
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