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Brussels, 3 August 2004

11833/04 (Presse 239)

Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the Presidential Revocatory Referendum in Venezuela on 15 August 2004

The European Union underlines the importance of the upcoming Presidential revocatory referendum in Venezuela on 15 August. The EU considers the referendum as an important step towards a constitutional, democratic solution to the longstanding political crisis in Venezuela, as agreed in May 2003 by all parties concerned in line with resolution 833 of the OAS. In this respect, the referendum is essential for restoring in Venezuela national reconciliation and democratic stability in a climate of mutual respect, tolerance and dialogue among all parties concerned, within the framework of the rule of law and democratic principles.

The EU calls on all sides to ensure that the referendum is conducted in a transparent and fair manner, in line with international standards, and in an atmosphere of tranquillity and restraint. It expresses the hope that the electorate will actively participate in the process and that the final result will be respected by all sides.

The EU regrets that it cannot deploy an observation mission to the referendum in Venezuela. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to secure with the Venezuelan electoral authorities the conditions to carry out observation in line with the Union's standard methodology used in all countries where EU election observation missions are deployed. Nonetheless the EU expresses its support for international missions that will deploy observers to the forthcoming referendum, in particular the role of the Carter Centre and the OAS.

The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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