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Statement by Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Katrougalos at the conclusion of the Informal “Gymnich” Meeting of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Bucharest, 31 January 2019)

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Today we discussed, at the Informal Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest, the EU's Eastern Partnership, as well as Venezuela.

As regards the first subject, Greece has traditionally had very good relations with all the countries of the Eastern Partnership, indeed fraternal relations with certain ones. We favour their European prospects, always on the condition that they will respond to the European aquis and respect the rule of law, democracy, and liberty.

Today, we also dealt with Venezuela. What is of particular importance to us is for the people of Venezuela to be able to decide themselves , democratically, about their future in a manner that will be democratic and peaceful at the same time, which will reunite a very polarised society, an extremely polarised political system, and will not leave any danger for increased tensions, no danger for a prospect which we all wish to avoid: the prospect of a civil war.

For this reason, in order for systematic preparations to take place for democratic elections and substantive dialogue, in order to avoid tension, and for the people of Venezuela to be able to express themselves freely, our country has proposed, from the very beginning, the creation of a group of countries that would undertake this role of political dialogue.

Therefore today, it was decided to put together this group in which European countries participate. Indicatively, those who have direct influence over the region due to their historical relations, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, as well as other countries, such as France and Germany. Countries from the region were also invited, and have already agreed, such as Bolivia and Ecuador. We await responses also from other countries, such as Mexico, while invitations have been sent, and it seems that countries will respond who always share the same political approach with us, a policy of dialogue and peace, such as Switzerland, Norway, and even the Holy See, the Vatican.

This, in our opinion, is the essential part: for Democracy to function, for elections to be substantive, and we indeed have ensured this in a manner that corresponds to the principles of the European Union, to protect not only political freedoms, but also the rule of law. And I think this is the best response to those who would wish for political or party-political responses to be solely provided. And we believe that, in this manner, the freedoms of the people of Venezuela are protected in the best and most efficient way possible.  Because only its people can provide a solution to issues related to democracy in their country. There are no saviours from abroad. As the Greek author states, “Salvation is a beneficial action only for the saviour.”

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