EU states call for fresh polls in Venezuela

                                  By Sibel Ugurlu</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - Several EU member states have called on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to announce fresh elections within next eight days to ease the current political crisis in the south American country.</p>    <p>European heavyweights -- including the U.K., Germany, France and Spain -- have taken a similar stance against Venezuela's elected president, saying they would recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the acting president if elections are not announced. </p>    <p>“We do not seek to put or remove governments, we want democracy and free elections in ‪#Venezuela. In any case, if in eight days there is no call for fair, free, transparent and democratic elections, Spain will recognize ‪@jguaido as president of Venezuela,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a statement on Saturday.</p>    <p>Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said they would recognize Guaido as the acting president of Venezuela “to implement the political process”, if fresh elections are not announced.</p>    <p>“We work together with our European allies,” he noted.</p>    <p>British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and German government spokesman Steffen Seibert shared similar views on the current political crisis in the south American nation.</p>    <p>Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10 when President Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycott by the opposition.</p>    <p>On Wednesday, Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself acting president.</p>    <p>U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Guaido as president of the country.</p>    <p>Maduro quickly shot back, cutting off diplomatic relations with Washington and giving U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.</p>  <p>He has repeatedly lashed out at the U.S., saying Washington is waging an economic war against him and his government amid a sweeping sanctions campaign.</p>    <p>Brazil and the Organization of American States recognized Guaido as Venezuela's leader prior to his formal announcement. Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay have followed suit while Bolivia and Mexico continue to recognize Maduro.</p>    <p>Several South American countries, Russia and Turkey have also expressed solidarity with Maduro.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>*Hasan Esen contributed to this story from France.</p>  <p>