Despite last week’s terrorist attack in Bulgaria that Israel blamed squarely on
Hezbollah, the EU Tuesday rejected Israeli calls to place the Lebanese
organization on its terrorist blacklist.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato
Kozakou- Marcoullis, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency,
said at a press conference in Brussels with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman
that there is “no consensus among the EU member states for putting Hezbollah on
the terrorist list of the organization.”
Such a move, she said, required
unanimity from the EU’s 27 member states.
Liberman, who met Tuesday with
his EU colleagues as part of the annual EU-Israel Association Council meeting,
had called on the body to put Hezbollah on its terrorist list. Doing so would
make illegal any financial transfer from the EU to Hezbollah or to any member of
that organization. Liberman said such a move would send a powerful message both
to the international community and the Israeli public.
“From our point of
view it is unacceptable that Hezbollah terrorists meet and talk with Western
diplomats in Beirut on one hand, and they pursue their terrorist activity on
European soil on the other hand,” he said at the press
Kozakou-Marcoullis, speaking for the EU, plainly refused the
“The Lebanese Hezbollah is an organization that comprises a
political party [and a] social services network, as well as an armed wing,” she
said. “Hezbollah is active in Lebanese politics, including the parliament and
the government, and plays a specific role with regard to the status quo in
Taking this and other aspects into account, she said, there is
“no consensus among the EU member states for putting Hezbollah on the terrorist
list of the organization. Should there be tangible evidence of Hezbollah
engaging in acts of terrorism, the EU would consider listing the
Cyprus is currently holding a suspect who according to
Israeli officials, has admitted under interrogation to being a Hezbollah
operative. He was arrested there late last month while allegedly planning an
attack on Israeli tourists.
Israel has been attempting unsuccessfully
since the mid-1990s to get Hezbollah included on the EU terror list. It has both provided the EU with intelligence information
and sent experts to brief EU officials in Brussels on the matter – all to no
According to one official, the main country blocking these efforts
is France, which has historic ties with Lebanon and feels its influence there
would be diminished by such a move.
Another official said that there was
no doubt that under any classification of a terrorist group, Hezbollah – which
is on the US terror blacklist – “fits the description like a
Other diplomatic officials slammed Liberman for raising the issue
in Brussels now, saying that he “shot from the hip” without properly preparing
the groundwork and building on all of Israel’s efforts over the years.
Burgas, meanwhile, Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov held a memorial ceremony at
the site of the attack near Burgas Airport where a terrorist killed five
Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver last week. He said that not only Hezbollah,
but also Iran, has to be held responsible for the bombing.
important that we bring to justice not only those directly responsible for the
terror attack,” he said in reference to Hezbollah, “but also the county that
sent them – Iran.”
Meseznikov said that Iran uses terror cells to spread
terrorism throughout the world.
The tourism minister, who thanked the
Bulgarian authorities and local rescue forces for their assistance during the
crisis, said that the message he had come to deliver was that terrorism must not
be allowed to disrupt life.
“We cannot allow terrorists who have tried to
destroy relationships between countries succeed in their evil intentions, and
the answer to the terrorism needs to be the strengthening of our ties in all
areas,” he said.
“Bulgaria was and remains a friendly nation for
Immediately following the ceremony, attended by his Bulgarian
counterpart, the mayor of Burgas and leaders of Bulgaria’s small Jewish
community, Meseznikov toured vacation sites frequented by Israelis, including
Sunny Beach, the destination resort of the targeted tourist bus. He also visited
Varna, another popular Black Sea city popular with Israeli travelers.
Monday Meseznikov met Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev and Prime Minister
Boyko Borisov and announced that a Bulgarian ministerial delegation would come
to Israel in September to discuss strengthening the two countries’ tourism,
security and strategic cooperation.
Borisov on Tuesday revealed new
details about the activities of the terrorists who Burgas bombing, the Bulgarian
Sofia News Agency reported.
“They came about a month before that, they
changed leased vehicles, they moved in different cities so as not to be seen
together, and no two of them can be seen in one place on any security camera,”
Borisov told the news agency, adding that the people behind the horrific blast
had been “exceptionally skilled.”
“The services worked perfectly but the
manner in which the attack was carried out indicates it could not have been
prevented,” he emphasized, according to the report.
minister indicated that even if the terrorists had not attacked the Israeli
tourists at the airport, they still could have followed the tourists’ bus to
their hotel and detonated a bomb there.
“We are very vulnerable. You can
enter Bulgaria from any place as a tourist, an expert, or a guest in the
mixed-population areas, but our services do not have multi-billion budgets,” he
declared, said the report.
According to the news agency, Borisov still
stressed that the investigation was moving forward and that Bulgarian services
were on par with other nations’ services that had investigated the September 11
attacks and the Madrid train bombings.