|Burgas Memorial (R370).(Photo by: REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov)|
Bulgarian FM urges EU to stop Hezbollah
By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND HILARY LEILA KRIEGER IN WASH
Sofia urges European Union to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist group and make effort to stop further attacks.
The European Union should take collective action against Hezbollah, Bulgarian
Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said on Monday morning.
He spoke with
reporters as he walked into a meeting of his counterparts in Brussels to brief
them on an initial investigative Bulgarian report that blamed the terrorist
group for the bombing last July that killed five Israeli tourists and a
Bulgarian bus driver outside his country’s Burgas airport.
the attack that happened in Burgas last year was organized by people connected
to the military wing of Hezbollah,” Mladenov said.
“We in Europe need to
take collective measures to make sure that such attacks will never happen again
on EU soil, that we are protected as the EU,” he continued.
“We must send
a strong message to the rest of the world, that activities like this are
unacceptable, no matter where they are planned or executed.”
seemed puzzled when a reporter asked if Israel or the United States had
pressured the Bulgarian government to target Hezbollah.
“Nobody has an
interest in putting pressure on us,” he said. “We came to these conclusions
because of our own investigation, and we stand firmly behind
Israel and the US have asked Europe to take a stronger stand
against Hezbollah, including putting it on a list of terrorist
But to date, the EU has made only lukewarm statements
about the organization and its link to a terrorist attack in Bulgaria, which is
one of the 27 EU nations.
In the wake of the report, EU foreign policy
chief Catherine Ashton said only that the matter should be studied.
she walked into the council meeting Monday morning, the bulk of which was
scheduled to deal with Syria, she said that she would listen carefully to what
Bulgaria had to say.
The EU foreign ministers did not issue a statement
on Hezbollah once their meeting adjourned.
A bipartisan group of 111
members of the US Congress sent a letter to Ashton and the EU on Monday urging
the body to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
sent a letter of solidarity to Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov as
he continues his investigation into Hezbollah’s links to the bombing.
fear that failure to add Hezbollah to the terror list will allow, perhaps even
encourage, the terror organization to exploit the lack of unity in the European
Union member states, and attempt to launch additional attacks on civilians,”
stated the congressmen’s letter to Ashton.
They were referring to
different policies toward Hezbollah adopted by various European
The letter also warned that “if Hezbollah’s ability to
maintain fund-raising networks in Europe remains intact, this threatens to
undermine the European Union’s significant efforts toward Middle East
The authors noted that their letter on Monday follows up on a
similar call made in the fall of last year, after the bombing but before
evidence had been presented that Hezbollah was behind the attack.
is now a clear imperative for action,” the letter maintained. “Hezbollah’s
actions in Europe must be met with a response to prevent further attacks in
Europe and around the world.”
“Calling Hezbollah what it is – a terrorist
organization – is long overdue, but it’s better late than never,” said
Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, one of the chief sponsors of the EU
“This designation could help cripple Hezbollah’s operations in
Europe and around the world, making it more difficult for them to sow
instability and target innocent people.”
On Sunday, US President Barack
Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, also called on the EU to
designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
“Now that Bulgarian
authorities have exposed Hezbollah’s global terrorist agenda, European
governments must respond swiftly,” he wrote in a New York Times
“They must disrupt its operational networks, stop flows of
financial assistance to the group, crack down on Hezbollah- linked criminal
enterprises and condemn the organization’s leaders for their continued pursuit
He applauded European countries that have already
condemned Hezbollah for the bombing, but continued, “Europe must now act
collectively and respond resolutely to this attack within its borders by adding
Hezbollah to the European Union’s terrorist list.”
“That is the next step
toward ensuring that Burgas is the last successful Hezbollah operation on
European soil,” Donilon stressed.
Members of Congress and multiple US
administrations have called on the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist
group. American officials are hoping that evidence that the group perpetrated an
attack on European soil will make the EU more willing to add it to its
European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor said he was
disappointed by the EU’s failure to take a stand against Hezbollah.
is very hard to find any reason other than the fact that this issue has been
inexcusably politicized,” he said.
“A terrorist attack took place on
European soil and the brazen perpetrators are being ignored. This sends a very
worrying signal to global terrorist groups that they will be able to act with
immunity and impunity.”