Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday rejected a European ultimatum that he call elections as opposition rival Juan Guaido stepped up appeals to the military to turn against the leftist government. Spain, Britain, France, Netherlands and Germany warned Saturday they will recognize Guaido as interim president unless Maduro calls elections within eight days. Greece’s left-wing ruling Syriza party, however, voiced full support for Maduro. “They should withdraw this ultimatum. No one can give us an ultimatum,” Maduro told CNN Turk in an interview dubbed into Turkish from Spanish. “Venezuela is not tied to Europe. This is complete insolence,” Maduro added, as he described the European countries’ actions as a “mistake.” Pope Francis, winding up a trip to Panama, said Sunday he was praying that “a just and peaceful solution is reached to overcome the crisis, respecting human rights.” Guaido, the 35-year-old head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself acting president at a massive anti-government rally in Caracas Wednesday, contending that Maduro’s reelection to a second six-year term was fraudulent. The United States, Canada and many Latin American countries which had refused to recognize Maduro’s May 2018 re-election immediately endorsed Guaido as the interim president, setting up the tense showdown in crisis-torn Venezuela. Maduro has received support from Russia, Syria, Turkey and China as well as longtime allies Cuba and Bolivia. In the interview with CNN Turk, Maduro accused the US of mounting a coup attempt against him — a regular refrain — and insisted Guaido was “violating the constitution.” Published in Daily Times, January 28th 2019.