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  • Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) and former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) and former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 April 2018

Relations between both countries have been tense since the times of Chavez, but now both countries are willing to take a different approach.

Spanish and Venezuelan officials met in Madrid Wednesday and have expressed their willingness to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries.

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro said the meeting, which was organized at his request, would only yield positive results if the parties move forward on the bases of mutual respect.

“The foreign affairs Vice Minister in Europe Yvan Gil met with the Spanish foreign ministry... to discuss the restoring of ambassadors,” said Maduro during an interview on “Con el Mazo Dando,” a popular TV program, “I agree that ambassadors should return to the capitals, but only if there's respect.”

The Spanish Foreign Ministry has also recognized the need to restore relations due to significant commercial ties between the two countries along with social and political links despite “deeply divergent visions.”

“I tell my friend Mariano Rajoy, 'Marianito', let's fix this!” said Maduro during the interview.

Yvan Gil met with the Spanish Foreign Minister for Latin America Fernando Garcia Casas to “open spaces for dialogue,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, said in Brussels.

The Venezuelan government has in the past rejected the harsh stance the Spanish government has taken on Maduro's administration, which has led to a diplomatic crisis between both countries, further aggravated by the recent sanctions by the European Union on the Bolivarian government.

Venezuela expelled the Spanish ambassador in January 2018 after the EU imposed sanctions to high ranking officials, which was followed by the expulsion of Venezuela's ambassador to Spain by the Rajoy's government.

During a session in the Spanish Congress on Tuesday, representatives from the left wing parties Unidos Podemos, Republican Left of Catalunya and the Basque Euskal Herria Bildu rejected the right-wing Citizens party's petition to tighten Spain's stance on Venezuela.

Oskar Matute, from Euskal Herria Bildu, said that the initiative wanted to “obstruct the democratic dialogue instead of contributing to it,” and that Spain is using Venezuela “as a smokescreen to hide corruption scandals and drug-related financing to parties in the country.”

Representative Pablo Bustinduy, a spokesman for Unidos Podemos, reminded the Congress that Venezuela has had international observers in the last 24 elections, and that “the Spanish Parliament itself sent an observation mission in 2013, which was endorsed by the People's Party and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, Spain's leading right and center-left wing parties.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spain's Former Prime Minister, also participated an international observer mission during the 2015 elections when the opposition won. Zapatero recently confirmed his attendance to the May 20 elections, saying he has confidence in the electoral process in Venezuela.

“I'll make sure that the May 20 electoral process meets the basic requirements in a democracy because I wouldn't be taking part in this task otherwise. We will carry out an election, which a fraction of the opposition doesn't agree with,” said Zapatero, adding that the elections will take place and will do so in peace.

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