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A few weeks ago, this Plenary discussed the Venezuelan humanitarian and migration crisis that has worsened dramatically in the past year because of the political deadlock in the country.
Unfortunately, we are here today to address the further deterioration of the political crisis. This is a result of the outrageous attacks against the constitutional and democratic functioning of the National Assembly and the take-over of the legislative power by an illegitimate President.
Force and violence were used against President [of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Juan] Guaidó and many lawmakers on 5 January to prevent a legitimate election of the National Assembly Executive Board. Impeding their access to the National Assembly is not [only] a major attack against democracy and rule of law. It also polarises the situation further and creates more obstacles to a peaceful solution to the crisis.
The so-called "election" of Luis Parra is not legitimate. It did not respect the legal procedures, nor the democratic constitutional principles. There was no verified quorum, there was no voting majority and the general legal provisions were not respected. Any acts or decisions taken by the Assembly over which Luis Parra presides cannot be recognised by the European Union.
The EU and the International Contact Group have reacted swiftly and rejected the attacks against the National Assembly, reiterating clear support for Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of the National Assembly.
Many other international actors have qualified the harassment acts as inadmissible, condemned these violations and expressed support for Juan Guaidó.
These developments require a strong response and further restrictive measures targeting those responsible for undermining democracy are being considered. Of course, these measures shall in no way harm the Venezuelan people that are already dramatically affected by the crisis.
Targeted sanctions cannot be the only tool. We need other complementary and constructive avenues that can contribute to a peaceful solution. Even though the future looks bleak and we don’t see prospects for a short-term resolution of the political impasse, we must continue trying to create political space for negotiations. We continue to believe that a sustainable resolution of the crisis can only arise from genuine negotiations that lead to an inclusive and representative negotiated electoral path.
When we talk about restoring public institutions, we mean in particular restoring the credibility of the National Electoral Council and the Supreme Court of Justice. Without them, there can be no free and credible legislative and presidential elections and no lasting solution in Venezuela.
We have said it many times: the EU will spare no efforts to continue helping a genuine and inclusive process towards a reinstatement of democracy and rule of law, through free and fair Presidential elections.
Another dimension of our efforts is to craft a more concerted approach to the Venezuelan crisis by the international community. I intend to ask Special Adviser [of the European Union for Venezuela] Enrique Iglesias to make a “tour” to reach out to key international actors and assess what more can be done. Work will also continue through the International Contact Group.
As closing remarks I will say that we will continue to follow closely the developments, in contact with key international actors. One thing is sure: we need more concerted efforts by the whole of the international community, and we need them urgently. The stalemate cannot last forever. And that is what we will try to do in the following days, looking for a strong support from all actors involved and asking the contact group to continue working, the so called Oslo process is also in a stalemate and the suffering of the Venezuelan people and the political situation requires that we push stronger in order to look for fair and free elections as it has been required for a long time without any kind of success. But what has happened on the election of the President of the National Assembly is a turning point in the dynamics of a situation which requires a stronger commitment. I hope it is going to happen in the next weeks.
Link to the opening speech: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-182765
In most of the comments, many Members were responding to prior approaches. How can we interpret so many different things, events that have been widely broadcasted all over the world?
For me it is clear, for our delegation in Venezuela it is clear, we cannot consider the election of the board [of the National Assembly] as having been conducted in accordance with the rules, and we have to continue accepting the fact that Juan Guaidó is the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela. This is not going to solve the problem but at least this is a coherent position from our part.
I take note that there are strong divisions in this Parliament about what is happening in Venezuela. But I have to stick to the facts and the facts for me are clear: Juan Guaidó is still for us President of the National Assembly and as a consequence remains the President in charge for calling for elections in Venezuela. We will continue working on that.
Mr President, thank you for your contributions to the debate.
Link to the closing remarks: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-182767