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Venezuela. Is the EPP's vindictiveness against Josep Borrell justified?

(B2) The corridors of the European Parliament are buzzing with the rebellious winds of the European People's Party (EPP) against High Representative Josep Borrell. In question, the sending of a “ secret mission of negotiations in Caracas at the end of September. Is it justified?

Catalan Spanish MEP from the People's Party Dolors Montserrat leads the charge against her compatriot Josep Borrell (credit: European Parliament, 7.10.2020)

What does the EPP blame Josep Borrell for?

For the members of the Christian-Democratic group in the European Parliament, " EU High Representative Josep Borrell cannot send a secret mission to a dictator without consultation “, declare the deputies Antonio Tajani, Paulo Rangel and Dolors Montserrat (1).

This mission does that legitimize Maduro not recognized by the EU as the leader of Venezuela, and the elections organized by his regime », alarms the Italian Antonio Tajani (Forza Italia), former president of the European Parliament and former European commissioner. “Simply postponing the elections without any conditions at the same time undermines the EU's other political demands in Venezuela. »

This mission " was not discussed with or approved by the leaders of the democratic forces, including the country's legitimate interim president, Juan Guaidó », adds the Portuguese Paulo Rangel (PSD). It is " a strategic and political mistake », exclaims the Spaniard, Dolors Montserrat who drives the point home. That " weakens the EU's position vis-à-vis the Venezuelan regime and whitewashes Maduro's totalitarian regime. We demand that the reasons for sending such a mission be made perfectly clear », affirms the one who shares with Josep Borrell being originally from Catalonia.

What was the purpose of this mission?

A high-level EU mission was, in fact, sent to Venezuela at the end of September with the aim of negotiating with Nicolás Maduro a possible postponement of the legislative elections scheduled for December 6, 2020, as publicly recognized by the diplomatic service European Union (EEAS) in a communicated. A totally justified postponement because the EU considers these elections invalid. “ The conditions are not currently met for a free, fair and democratic electoral process to take place. » Moreover, the Europeans have renounced, for the same reasons, the sending of an EU electoral observation mission.

Should the High Representative consult the opposition?

When we conduct negotiations, we do not start consulting the adversary. The European Union will not, for example, ask permission from Libyan leader Al-Sarraj (recognized by the international community) to meet his adversary (not recognized by the EU), General Haftar. Same in Belarus. If we have to meet A. Lukashenko to confront him with European reality, we do not ask permission from his opponents, even if the EU recognizes them as legitimate. This rule was invented by the EPP for the needs of the occasion. It has no legal basis (in the Treaties) nor any political or even diplomatic justification.

Is this protest justified?

No. Clearly no. The job of a diplomat is, sometimes, to loudly proclaim a position. This is the role of official statements issued by the High Representative of the EU, in his personal name or on behalf of the entire European Union. But above all, and above all, it is to send messages to the main stakeholders. Meeting the current president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is part of the job. This is not only legitimate for a European diplomat. But not doing so would be a “ strategic mistake ". In the same way, it is not forbidden to go see the Belarusian, Turkish or Russian leaders, or the different Libyan parties to the conflict, even if we do not really share their points of view. On the contrary. It is the very role of a diplomat to discuss with everyone, even the worst, to convey messages and take the pulse of the adversary. If the diplomat doesn't do it, who will? And, in general, discretion must prevail, precisely to avoid any legitimization. An official visit would have the opposite of the desired effect: to consecrate official power.

What do you think of the EPP diatribe?

Let's be clear and direct. This protest has an essential origin: the Spanish Popular Party which thus carries out a personal vindictiveness against the European representative Josep Borrell who has the great fault in their eyes of being from the PSOE (the Spanish socialist party). We are here in a national settling of scores (Dolors Montserrat was a member of parliament for Barcelona), rather than in the desire to perfect European policy. This attack on public opinion is unfortunate and damaging.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

 If I had to do it again, I would do it (Josep Borrell)

The High Representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, remains combative. “ If I had to do it again, I would! We didn't win, but we had to try », as he said to the European deputies, mostly Spanish, who questioned him in Parliament this Wednesday (October 7) in plenary in Brussels. “ Would I have sent the same mission to Belarus? Yes of course ! AndWhat if tomorrow we could send someone to start a national dialogue. Yes we would! »

(NGV with ES in the European Parliament)

  1. Read the communicated of the EPP group published this Wednesday 7.10 in the morning
  2. The speech of Josep Borrell's intervention in the European Parliament

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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