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Let me thank Ecuador, the Foreign Minister [of Ecuador, José Valencia Amores] and all our colleagues that are present here today.
We had an excellent and very intense meeting today and, as we did in Montevideo on the occasion of our first, we are going now to read out to you, first myself in English and then the Foreign Minister [José Valencia Amores] in Spanish, the ministerial declaration that we have just agreed.
Q. Pasamos a las preguntas que ha formulado la prensa. [La primera] empieza pidiéndoles una reacción sobre la inhabilitación de Juan Guaidó por parte de la fiscalía venezolana.
We have learned about this news as we were meeting. We have immediately included in our declaration that the Minister [of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, José Valencia Amores] and myself just read to you, our common reaction to this, which is a condemnation of this decision that was taken to "disqualify" Juan Guaidó from holding public office for 15 years.
We believe that this political decision is another demonstration of the urgency of the restoration of democracy, separation of power and rule of law in the country.
It is definitely a move that aims at undermining the search for a democratic outcome of this crisis to which we remain determined.
It often happens that in the moment when some steps forward are made on the way to a peaceful and democratic outcome, those that might not share this approach take actions to undermine it.
We remain determined, as the Minister [of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, José Valencia Amores] mentioned, to try and unite forces at regional and international level, to try, help and accompany a peaceful, democratic and Venezuelan outcome of this crisis.
Q. Pregunta sobre la posibilidad de unión del Grupo de Contacto [Internacional]con el grupo de Lima.
We have had contacts with members of the Lima Group since the beginning, since even before the establishment of this [International Contact] Group. Members of this Group are also Members of the Lima Group. Personally, I have been in contact with Foreign Ministers and even Presidents of countries that have a very relevant role in the Lima Group.
So, the exchanges are constant. I believe that the presence of the Foreign Minister of Chile [Roberto Ampuero Espinoza] today with us, in his capacity as Foreign Minister of Chile but yet represents a very important element of connection with the work of the Lima Group, which has many points in common with the work we are doing.
The International Contact Group has a specific mandate and a specific composition but, as the name itself indicates, it is a group that aims at having contacts with as many actors as possible, inside Venezuela, in the region and internationally, including the members of the [UN] Security Council - the P5 - and including the UN. So, no limits to the contacts we will establish and we are establishing.
Personally, I will continue to inform and be informed about the work of the Lima Group, looking for common ground wherever possible and looking for synergies wherever possible.
I believe that today, another step in a positive direction was made, as I said, with the presence of the Foreign Minister of Chile [Roberto Ampuero Espinoza] today at our table, but without forgetting that the members of this Group are already part of the Lima Group, so some connections are already there.
Q. ¿Dará el grupo un nuevo plazo para que se realicen elecciones en Venezuela y se flexibilizarán los controles migratorios?
On the migratory part of your question, I will leave the answer to the Foreign Minister [José Valencia Amores].
But on this, I want to express, on behalf of the European Union and I believe on behalf of all the Members of the [International Contact] Group, our full support and our full solidarity with the countries of the region, starting from Ecuador, that are hosting so many Venezuelans in these months. Not only our solidarity, but also our full support, including through some financial support that we have mobilised so far.
When it comes to the organisation of elections, as you know and as we mentioned in our ministerial declaration, we believe that the holding of elections that are free, credible and transparent is an essential element for the democratic and peaceful outcome of the crisis and they are to be held as soon as possible.
We have discussed this morning, as it is reflected also in our statement, the work that we will do as Group, both at technical but also at political level, to provide elements for a roadmap that could be presented to the parties in Venezuela, determining the elements of the possible holding of elections and a political transition.
As you know, many of us, starting from the European Union, have a long-standing experience in supporting electoral processes, which are a complicated process – it is not only the day of the elections; it is also the preparation for it; it is the monitoring; it is the political guarantees for all. Venezuela seems to be far away from the conditions to be met in this respect.
From our side, there is no imposition on anything. We have always insisted on the need for any solution to come from inside Venezuela, but we are ready to offer all our support, all our assistance, including our technical assistance on electoral matters, to define the concrete steps of how an electoral process could look like in terms of calendar, in terms of preparation, in terms of international assistance, in terms of the right guarantees for all, for the process to be transparent, inclusive, free and fair.
Q. ¿Cuál es la reacción a la reiteración de apoyo del Parlamento Europeo a [Juan] Guaidó y la crítica a la falta de eficiencia del Grupo de Contacto [Internacional]?
The European Parliament adopted a resolution back in January asking the establishment of the International Contact Group. In a disciplined manner, with the Ministers of the Member States of the European Union, we have worked in these months to establish this Group together with our partners in Latin America and, as I was mentioning, always keeping our international partners, starting from the United Nations, closing informed and associated.
Nobody expected in January, I believe, that even something as important and diverse as this [International] Contact Group, would have been able to solve the crisis in Venezuela overnight. If there was anyone believing in this, probably he or she was not deeply aware of the situation in Venezuela.
The work of the [International] Contact Group in these months has been intense. We have already carried out three missions of several days in Caracas, having contacts and access to all relevant stakeholders inside the country and with a reach out to partners in the region with some significant, even if still limited, results, especially the ones we have highlighted on the humanitarian front. I believe that all the support we are giving to the legitimate and international mechanism for the delivery of humanitarian aid – in particularly the UN agencies – has produced some results that would have probably not been possible if the [International] Contact Group would have not work no much and so intensively on this.
We will continue to do so. On the political side, as I said, we have decided today to intensify our work. It is clear that news like the one that arrived today on the decision on [Juan] Guaidó’s role are not helping at all. But, as I said, we are determined to intensify our efforts to help Venezuelans – all of them - to find, first of all, decent living conditions, I believe this is urgent – the health and food situation in the country are dramatic – and, secondly, to find a way to agree on a political, democratic and peaceful outcome of the crisis through elections.
We will continue working in this direction, it is not going to be easy. Some steps have already been taken in a positive and rather constructive manner, and also with some good results.
Obviously, the efforts are now to consolidate these first steps especially on the humanitarian field and to intensify the political work, with all the different actors inside Venezuela and internationally.
Then, obviously, we will again review our work when we will meet at ministerial level. But I can tell you that there is no one single day in which this [International Contact] Group does not work, at different levels – ministerial or technical.
I also believe that the fact that some even more negative developments have not happened so far is probably also thanks to work of this [International Contact] Group.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-170373