The European Union and a few of its member states have given an ultimatum to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, urging him to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as president unless he calls elections within eight days. The country’s foreign minister responded back by saying that “nobody is going to give us deadlines or tell us if there are elections or not”. So far, the coordinated call coming from the EU leadership is one of its most explicit yet as the member states are struggling to agree on a common position on the crisis in the Latin American country.
The EU said that it would take further actions if new elections are not called in the coming days. This would include “the issue of recognition of the country’s leadership,” EU’s chief of diplomacy Federica Mogherini said. Spain was the first EU country to issue an ultimatum with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez saying that “if within eight days there are no fair, free and transparent elections called in Venezuela, Spain will recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president”. Venezuela is home to about 200,000 Spanish nationals. Madrid said that it was “not looking to impose or remove governments in Venezuela, we want democracy and free elections in Venezuela”.
Following Spain’s call, Germany and France followed suit, backing the eight-day ultimatum. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that “the Venezuelan people must be able to freely decide on their future” while German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz called for “complete security” as a necessary condition for elections. In the meantime, Russia accused the United States of trying to grab power in Venezuela and warned against military action. The Kremlin last week accused the White House of stoking street protests in the country, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that “we consider the attempt to usurp sovereign authority in Venezuela to contradict and violate the basis and principles of international law.”