|l’Arc de Triomphe, from inside, looking up|
Our third letter from Ronald Zonca, on an extended visit to kin in Crimea. He also posts them at Boulevard Voltaire.
September 21, 2015
Translated from French by Tom Winter
An anniversary followed by a day of kebabs at the seashore gave me the chance just lately to have a long exchange with people of Crimea. Those invited were just normal and middle-class people; several generations were present. No barbarians with a cutlass in their teeth, ready to follow a new Attila to crash over Europe in a wave!
Very well informed about what’s happening in France, their principal sentiment that surfaced was incomprehension.
The subject that most interested them was the matter of the sanctions imposed following the restoration of Crimea to Russia. They politely reminded me that Crimea was first of all an autonomous republic, calling to my attention the pharmacy licenses posted on walls. Even in the time of being administratively under Ukraine, the issuing authority was the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. This Republic had its own parliament and the Parliament had the prerogative, granted in the constitution, to organize a referendum. In view of the results and in view of the level of participation, the referendum expressed a strong popular will.
I even got schooled in French history as a woman told me about the second anthem of the Revolution, the Song of Departure*** which exalts the notion of the sovereign people. This republican principle of the sovereign people is inscribed in our constitution, and they don’t understand why it shouldn’t apply to Crimea.
Maliciously, she told me the enemies of France were no longer “kings drunk on blood” but instead, our French “elites”. For them, France remains a reference, a yardstick in terms of values and what they observe cannot last. Coming from the side of a people that consider Napoleon among the great men of history, despite the sorrows he inflicted on Russia, we can count on their ability to pardon the mistaken ways of French foreign policy.
Sometimes there is a glimmer of a lover’s betrayal in the eyes of Crimeans when they evoke France, and the forfeit of the values our country stands for. But they well understand that the French people are the same, but that the politicians do not embody those values. They simply wish we would have new leaders who could liberate France from the American tutelage through Brussels and would work for the good of the country and the people.
Most of these people knew the Soviet times, with the official thought, and the outrageous propaganda. So they completely understand the French if the people feel abandoned by their elites. They may not say it in so many words, but all their wishes for France are for the restoration of the sovereignty of the French people.
Relevant passage from le Chant du départ:
Liberty guides our steps
And from the North to the South
The war trumpet
Signals the hour of the fight
Tremble, enemies of France,
Kings drunk on blood and pride
The sovereign People comes forth,
Tyrants go down to your graves…
Also check out Chant du Depart on youtube.