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Remarks by Ambassador Jürgen Schulz during the Security Council VTC Meeting on Venezuela, May 20, 2020

20.05.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

In our view, the Council members need to focus on the most pressing issue at hand: the unprecedented humanitarian emergency the Venezuelan people are suffering through and the overwhelming need for a political solution. We are aware of the Maduro regime's attempts to instrumentalise some reported incidents to divert the world's attention from the real issues. We see this as an effort at diversion by a regime that is responsible for the protracted political crisis and dire economic situation that Venezuelans from all walks of life suffer from.

We, As the Security Council should not fall into this trap. If you really care what the fate of millions of Venezuelans and about regional stability, we need urgent action now. The only way forward is through a peaceful and Venezuelan-owned political process. We strongly renew our call for the restoration of the democratic institutions and the rule of law in Venezuela through a free, transparent and credible presidential elections. The European Union, through the international contact group, stands ready to support this process. Echoing the Secretary General's call to unite in our shared battle against COVID-19. Now is the time to overcome the political deadlock and find an agreement, possibly within the framework of the Oslo process, which Germany has always strongly supported.

We also support the proposal for a transitional government for Venezuela, representing both sides to pave the way towards presidential and parliamentary elections and to unite in order to jointly respond to the challenge posed by COVID-19. We urge the Maduro regime to finally engage in meaningful negotiations.

Mr President, in the context of a collapsing infrastructure, mass migration and a government in denial about the humanitarian emergency, COVID-19 could have disastrous implications for Venezuela. Humanitarian actors need unimpeded and sustained access to the most vulnerable people and must be able to deliver humanitarian assistance in full accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. We urge the Maduro regime to grant access nationwide. Humanitarian assistance must ever be exploited for political purposes or be misused as a propaganda tool. The politicization of the delivery of humanitarian assistance runs counter to the humanitarian mandate and undermines the safety and security of humanitarian workers. We call instead for a united attempt to combat COVID-19 that includes all political actors. The National Assembly of Venezuela has made a number of constructive proposals to strengthen the country's health care system. The authorities in Venezuela and the international community must use all available resources at this point in time. This requires all of us to provide sufficient humanitarian assistance, first and foremost through the United Nations.

Let me reiterate in this context that the EU sanctions do not stand in the way or impede the global fight against COVID-19 or more broadly the provision of humanitarian assistance. On the contrary, EU sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans, are targeted. That means aimed at those responsible for the policies or actions that violate international law or human rights and aggravate conflict. To be perfectly clear, EU sanctions imposed against Venezuela do not apply to humanitarian assistance and humanitarian activities, including medical assistance.

Mr President we are alarmed that with the arrival of the pandemic in the country, intimidation and threats against health professionals, members of non-governmental organizations, journalists and human rights defenders have increased yet again. This is unfortunate and must stop. We therefore urge the regime once again to release all political prisoners, especially bearing in mind the consequences of the current pandemic,  under conditions of detention. Before closing, Mr President, let me recall that more than five million Venezuelans have fled to neighboring countries, often in search of medicine and basic health services. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbates their plight. This is the biggest refugee crisis in Latin America's history. On May 26, Germany will participate in a donor conference, which the EU, together with Spain, will host for Venezuelan refugees.

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