The European Parliament recognised Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido as de facto head of state on Thursday, heightening international pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.
EU governments, divided over whether to recognise Guaido, also agreed to lead an international crisis group with South American nations to seek new elections, setting a 90-day time limit, and threatening further economic sanctions.
EU lawmakers voted 439 in favour to 104 against, with 88 abstentions, at a special session in Brussels to recognise Venezuelan congress head Guaido as interim leader.
In a statement with the non-binding vote, the parliament urged the bloc’s 28 governments to follow suit and consider Guaido “the only legitimate interim president” until there were “new free, transparent and credible presidential elections”.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who spoke to Guaido on Wednesday and wants further EU sanctions on Venezuelan officials, urged counterparts to embrace the 35-year-old head of Venezuela’s National Assembly.
“Parliament has spoken. For us, Mr. Guaido is the president of Venezuela and we do hope that the European Union will find a united position on this,” he told reporters at a two-day meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bucharest.
Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said he was ready to join a common position on Venezuela if the bloc could agree what next steps to take.