Venezuela slams EU criticism as unfounded
CARACAS, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The Venezuelan government on Wednesday rejected recent criticism from European Union (EU) spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic as unfounded foreign interference in its domestic affairs.
A statement issued by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said the government "categorically rejects" the declarations issued Friday by Kocijancic, who serves as spokeswoman for Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Kocijancic's remarks about the situation in the country don't correspond with the reality, the ministry said.
"Our country is internationally known and respected as a land of peace, tireless defender of the integral human rights of all citizens," the ministry said.
"Freedom of expression, association and assembly are guaranteed by the National Constitution as inalienable civil rights and respected, observed and upheld by the Venezuelan government led by President Nicolas Maduro," said the statement.
According to the ministry, since mid-February, the EU "has issued a series of declarations and resolutions that question with the utmost impertinence the democratic institutions of Venezuela."
A few days ago, the EU spokeswoman called on the Venezuelan government to stop its repression of political protesters.
A wave of violent anti-government demonstrations organized since early February by hardline conservative opposition groups have left 39 people dead and more than 500 injured.
The ministry said "vandalism, violence, incitement to crime, xenophobia, and the killing of citizens and law enforcement officers carried out by violent armed groups from the Venezuelan opposition, runs counter to the Venezuelan people's vocation for peace and tolerance."
"The Venezuelan government demands the European Union respect our nation and its institutions," the statement said.
The government reiterated its desire to maintain and deepen ties with the EU and its member states, "but with full respect for the sovereignty and total adherence to the fundamental principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states."