EU foreign ministers back arms embargo, restricted sanctions on Venezuela
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders (L) and Federica Mogherini (R), the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, at the start of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 13, 2017. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET
People at a polling station in Caracas, Venezuela, Oct. 15, 2017. EFE-EPA FILE/Miguel Gutiérrez
Brussels, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- The foreign ministers from the European Union on Monday backed applying sanctions on Venezuela, including an embargo on weapons and on materials that could be used for internal repression.
The EU's Foreign Affairs Council said in a statement that they were also preparing the legal framework needed to establish a travel ban and assets freeze on sanctioned people, insisting that these measures were being carried out in response to human rights violations and suspected irregularities in the recent elections that saw the all-powerful Constituent Assembly established.
"In addition to its political and diplomatic efforts in support of a peaceful negotiated way out of the political crisis, the Council has today decided by unanimity to adopt restrictive measures, underscoring its concerns with the situation in the country," read the statement.
The ministers explained that the measures would be rolled out gradually and flexibly and could be expanded to those who do not respect democratic principles of the rule of law, as well as those involved in human rights violations.
European sources said they were still debating who would be included on the list of sanctioned people, though for the moment they were going to wait and see if the embargo encouraged a return to dialogue between the government and opposition.
"The measures can be reversed depending on the evolution of the situation in the country," said the ministers, adding that they would particularly value "the holding of credible and meaningful negotiations, the respect for democratic institutions, the adoption of a full electoral calendar and the liberation of all political prisoners."
They insisted that the measures had not been set up to harm the Venezuelan population, but rather so the EU could help them.