EU Increases Pressure on Venezuela, Gives Ultimatum
The European Union issued an official statement regarding Venezuela, warning that it will be forced to “take further actions” if the country fails to call new elections in the coming days.
The European Union has joined the plethora of countries reacting to the worsening political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, issuing an official statement on January 26 on behalf of all member countries. The statement, issued by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, came hours after France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom issued warnings to the South American country.
According to the statement, the European Union maintains the position that the May 2018 elections in Venezuela lacked democratic legitimacy and were “neither free, fair, nor credible.” The Union reiterated its full support to the National Assembly, which it recognized as the only legitimate governing body of Venezuela.
The EU then urged for the holding of new elections in accordance with both international democratic standards and the Venezuelan constitution.
“In the absence of an announcement on the organization of fresh elections with the necessary guarantees over the next days, the EU will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country’s leadership in line with article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution,” it said.
Article 233 is a reference to Juan Guaidó, the head of the opposition-held National Assembly. Under Article 233 of the Constitution of Venezuela, he declared himself interim president on January 23, arguing that Nicolas Maduro was not a democratically elected President.
And while the European Union still hasn’t openly backed Guaidó, individual member states have been quick to endorse the opposition leader as Venezuela’s legitimate president. French President Emmanuel Macron said that the country will recognize Guaidó as the ‘president in charge’ of Venezuela if new elections weren’t called within the week.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez imposed the same deadline for Venezuela to hold new elections, while the U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Guaidó was “the right person to take Venezuela forward.” Germany also backed its European neighbors, with a deputy spokesperson for the German government, Martina Fietz, saying that Berlin was ready to work with its European partners on the issue.
However, the official European Union statement did not mention whether Brussels might recognize Guaidó as a legitimate leader. According to Politico, an EU diplomat said that the statement could have been made clearer, as certain countries are still concerned about the opposition leader’s claims. The push from France, Germany, Spain, and the U.K. has put pressure on other EU countries to take action, the report said.
If no new elections are called within the week, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and London would all be breaking ranks with the official EU position – a rare occurrence in European politics.
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