MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. Russia is ready to facilitate the launch of dialogue between the Venezuelan authorities and the opposition, and is discussing this possibility with China, European and Latin American countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference following talks with Iraqi top diplomat Mohamed Ali Alhakim on Wednesday.
"There is the EU’s initiative to set up a contact group. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has also put forward some initiatives, there is also some ideas that Uruguay and Mexico have come up with" he said. However, according to Lavrov, Venezuelan opposition leaders, encouraged by their western sponsors, have been reluctant to launch dialogue.
"We truly wish to help create conditions for dialogue between the government and the opposition. We are discussing it with our Venezuelan partners, China, Latin American and European countries. We are also ready to participate in international efforts on platforms that would be acceptable for the Venezuelan parties," Lavrov noted.
The Russian top diplomat stressed that "all mediation initiatives must be impartial and involve a wide spectrum of international players, capable of influencing the government and the opposition."
"There is a need to clarify the goal of such a mediation platform," he went on to say. "We are confident that creating conditions for the Venezuelan parties to make an agreement is the only possible goal. If mediation efforts are aimed at predetermining the outcome of talks, such platforms will hardly be useful," Lavrov noted.
At the same time, in his words, Moscow would like the EU to explain its initiative to establish a contact group. "Some EU countries, including very influential ones, have presented an ultimatum to the Venezuelan government," he noted. "We would like to figure out as soon as possible, what it is all about," he added. According to him, if impartiality is guaranteed, such an initiative "could be very useful."
In addition, the Russian foreign minister said that Moscow welcomed "Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s readiness to accept international efforts." "We call on the opposition to adopt a similar constructive approach and abandon the language of ultimatums and act independently, guided by the interests of the Venezuelan people," Lavrov concluded.
Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas on January 23.
Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him. Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US.
Meanwhile, Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said that they would recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president unless Maduro called elections by February 3.
In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference. The United Nations secretary general, in turn, called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.