Philadelphia, July 19, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The European Union’s Council of Foreign Ministers voiced their support Monday for the dialogue efforts between the Venezuelan government and the opposition spearheaded by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
“The European Union fully supports the efforts by Former Presidents Mr. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Mr. Leonel Fernández and Mr. Martín Torrijos to facilitate an urgent, constructive and effective dialogue between the government and the parliamentary majority in Venezuela,” the ministers said in a final statement from Brussels.
Since April, the ex-presidents from Spain, Dominican Republic, and Panama have held scores of meetings with representatives of the Maduro government and the right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, with the aim of finding a solution to the country’s heated political standoff.
The opposition has accused President Nicolas Maduro of deliberately stalling the process for convening a recall referendum despite the incumbent’s crumbling popular support amid a severe economic crisis.
The left-wing leader has hit back, pointing to the MUD’s consistent efforts to oust his democratically-elected government, including violent protests as well as an attempted unconstitutional amendment to retroactively shorten the presidential term.
Earlier this month, President Maduro refloated an invitation to dialogue, to which the opposition responded favorably, relaxing several of its rigorous preconditions for bilateral talks.
Opposition leaders have staunchly demanded that the government announce a timetable for a recall referendum as a “non-negotiable” condition for dialogue. Maduro has fired back that it is the National Electoral Council, not the executive branch, which is responsible for supervising the recall process.
This week’s EU foreign ministers’ statement comes in stark contrast to a non-binding resolution passed by the EU Parliament last month.
On June 8, the body voted overwhelmingly to censure the Venezuelan government, calling on Caracas to immediately release all so-called “political prisoners”, remove all alleged roadblocks to a recall referendum, as well as open the country to humanitarian aid.
Monday’s statement, on the contrary, did not single out the Maduro government, urging “all institutions and political players to engage in this process in full respect of the democratic and constitutional framework, rule of law and human rights and fundamental freedoms, including those of jailed opponents who cannot exercise their rights.”
The EU declaration follows a resolution passed by the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States last month likewise endorsing the UNASUR-mediated dialogue initiative, which was passed in the wake of a failed effort by Secretary General Luis Almagro to have Venezuela suspended from the regional body.
The United Nations Human Rights Council also issued a statement last month backing dialogue as a solution to the South American country’s political turmoil and rejecting external interference.