The need for the European Union and the United States to secure alternative energy supplies to those of Russia is having consequences on all continents and accelerating negotiations that only a few months ago seemed stalled. On the sidelines of the Diplomatic Forum, which is being held in the Turkish town of Antalya, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, and the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Félix Plasencia, held a meeting this Saturday in which, Among other issues, they addressed the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the oil trade and the possibility of a lifting of sanctions if Caracas takes certain steps towards a democratic dialogue. Both Borrell and Plasencia told EL PAÍS that the meeting went “well”.
These sanctions have to be eliminated, according to the Venezuelan side, so that relations and trade in hydrocarbons are normalized. “They are unacceptable and violate international law and the dynamics between civilized nations,” said Plasencia. Asked about the recent contacts between the United States and the Maduro government to explore the possibility of sanction relief in exchange for resuming the purchase of Venezuelan oil, the head of Venezuelan diplomacy replied: “We have an oil business relationship with the United States. United 100 years. We have not put them out of business, they left to put coercive measures. Now they want to go back. Well, if they accept that the only and legitimate Government of Venezuela is the one led by President Nicolás Maduro, welcome to the American and European oil companies.”
Sources from Borrell’s team explained that the geopolitical earthquake caused by the crisis in Ukraine has opened “an opportunity” and that they have seen “receptivity” on the part of Venezuela to deal with European demands. In the recent vote at the United Nations in which Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was condemned, the government of Nicolás Maduro abstained instead of voting against, which other allies of Russia such as Syria or Belarus did. The European sources consulted believe that there is a “more pragmatic” attitude in Caracas and in the event that progress is made in the dialogue between Mexico and the Venezuelan opposition and towards a process of “open and clean elections”, the sanctions could be lifted or eased. applied to Venezuela after the repression of anti-government protests in recent years.
The White House, however, already warned on Thursday that its government does not recognize Maduro “as the leader of Venezuela” and maintains recognition instead of Juan Guaidó, made official in January 2019. Despite this confrontation, the intention to reduce Russia’s main source of financing —the sale of gas and oil— requires the search for new supplies, and this has spurred Western foreign ministries to look for alternatives, accelerating diplomatic movements in various directions.
Venezuela tries to take advantage of the occasion and allows himself to be courted. In Turkey, both the Foreign Minister and the Venezuelan Vice President, Delcy Rodríguez, who was in Antalya from Thursday to Friday, met with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavusoglu; with the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, and with former Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who has previously mediated with the Maduro government.
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