Italy Blocks EU From Recognizing Venezuela’s Guaido
On February 4, Italy blocked a bid that would toughen up the European Union’s position on Venezuela, despite dozens of its member states openly recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.
After Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rejected an ultimatum to hold new elections, a slew of European countries responded by recognizing Juan Guaido, the National Assembly leader, as the country’s interim president.
Germany, France, Britain, and Spain led the way for other EU member states by individually recognizing Guaido and calling for him to hold a new set of free and fair elections. With the Union’s most powerful members cracking down on Venezuela, other states were expected to follow suit.
However, unifying the bloc around a common position proved to be harder than EU leaders thought, as the measures were vetoed by Italy. Four different diplomatic sources reportedly told the AFP that the coalition government in Rome is split over how to handle the crisis in Venezuela, which led to the country blocking EU’s bid to get tough on Maduro.
Alessandro Di Battista, a prominent figure in Italy’s 5-Star Movement party, said that setting ultimatums and imposing sanctions on Venezuela would open the road to military intervention. “The 5-Star Movement and this government will never recognize people who appoint themselves president,” he said according to Reuters.
The far-right League party, Italy’s other coalition party, remained firm in its support of Guaido. League head, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, told Rete 4 television that all attempts to find common ground with 5-Star Movement had so far failed.
“We’re not looking very good on this,” he said about the situation.
The European Union had been debating on how to address the crisis in the South American country for days, Reuters reported, but Italy blocked the draft statement by refusing to line with the Union’s position.
Rome’s firm stance on the issue caused quite a stir outside of Europe, with Guaido telling Corriere Della Sera newspaper that he hoped Rome would back him. “We’ll do everything possible so that the Italian government adds its support – which is very important for us – to that expressed by the rest of the European Union,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
Both the President and Prime Minister of Italy have called for the coalition government to overcome its differences and back Guaido. Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who plays a mainly ceremonial role and usually stays out of day-to-day politics, addressed the issue during an event in Rome, saying that Italy should “demonstrate responsibility” by allying with the EU.
Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister, sided with Mattarella, saying that he “stood with the people of Venezuela in their fight against dictatorship.”
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