Venezuela says won't expel envoy, but demands EU action

·2 min read
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Venezueal expects 'gestures' from the EU (AFP Photo/Fabrice COFFRINI)

Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela expects "gestures" from the European Union after reversing its decision to expel the bloc's ambassador, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Thursday.

Caracas was making "a gesture" in order "not to hinder the dialogue with the European Union," Arreaza told satellite channel Telesur.

"And we hope therefore, that there will also be gestures from Europe to have a much more objective position on the events in our country," he said.

A joint statement with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said earlier that "the Venezuelan government decided to nullify the decision" to expel the ambassador.

President Nicolas Maduro on Monday gave the EU's Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa 72 hours to leave the country in response to European sanctions against 11 Venezuelans.

"The decision-making mechanisms of the European Union are very complex," Arreaza said, recognizing that Borrell had to consult with the EU's council of ministers.

"There are discussions and debates that must be opened in the European Union, but Venezuela hopes that there will be some kind of gesture to accompany the one we have made."

Borrell had condemned the expulsion, saying it would not go unanswered and the EU said that it would summon Venezuela's envoy to the bloc.

Relations have been tense since 2017, when Venezuela became the first Latin American country to be hit by EU sanctions, including an arms embargo.

Venezuela's opposition-controlled parliament on Tuesday blasted the government over the "unacceptable expulsion".

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, the National Assembly president, called it "an outburst of arrogance, a new outburst that seems like madness on the dictator's part".

Among officials hit with new EU sanctions on Monday was Maduro-backed opposition legislator Luis Parra, who is challenging Guaido for the leadership of the National Assembly.