Burgas MDA (R370).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sofia will not “initiate the procedure to include certain groups or individuals
in the banned list of the European Union,” Bulgarian Prime Minister and Foreign
Minister Marin Raykov said Friday in reference to Hezbollah, as quoted by the
Sofia News Agency.
Raykov’s comments followed a meeting with Lebanon’s
outgoing Ambassador to Bulgaria Micheline Abi Amra, who assured him that her
country will fully cooperate in the investigation into the Burgas terror attack
that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver last year.
and Lebanon have traditionally good relations, which we should develop further
in the interests of our two peoples. In Bulgaria, there are many Lebanese
people, who make a significant contribution to Bulgarian society and are a
natural link between the two countries,” Raykov was quoted as
According to the report, he emphasized that the Bulgarian
authorities were continuing the probe into the attack and that his country
relies on support and cooperation from Lebanon to reveal the perpetrators of the
attack. He also stated that Bulgaria would provide its partners and allies with
all the evidence found in the investigation.
Earlier on Friday, France
indicated it was prepared
to designate the military wing of Hezbollah a
terrorist organization, the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat reported, citing
a French official.
The European Union has been under pressure from the
United States and Israel to blacklist the Shi’ite organization, a demand that
has intensified since last month when Bulgaria implicated Hezbollah in the
Burgas bus bombing.
According to the French source, Paris’s openness to
label the military wing of Hezbollah a terror organization stems from its
responsibility for the Burgas attack and its participation in Syria’s civil war
on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
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French Foreign Minister
Laurent Fabius discussed the matter with US Secretary of State John Kerry on
Wednesday, according to the report.
According to the source, the move is
more symbolic than practical because it will not lead the EU to blacklist the
“political branch” of Hezbollah, and therefore, will not stop the organization
from receiving funds from Europe.
Also on Friday, Der Spiegel’s news site
reported that the German government wants to increase pressure on the European
Union to add Hezbollah to its list of terrorist organizations.
to the report, after talks with representatives of the American Jewish Committee
and security experts, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said he
favored banning the group in Europe.
A spokesman for Friedrich reportedly
said that if Hezbollah’s responsibility for the Burgas bombing is confirmed,
there will be a strong case for blacklisting the Lebanese group.
reports came after a criminal court in Limassol, Cyprus, on Thursday sentenced
Hossam Taleb Yaacoub
, an admitted Hezbollah operative, to four years in prison
for plotting to kill Israeli tourists on the island.
may add greater urgency to European Union talks on whether to include Hezbollah
in its terror list. EU countries such as Austria and Germany have not included
Hezbollah on their terror list because of insufficient legal
The Cyprus conviction represents the first conviction of a
Hezbollah member in a European court.
But many European governments are
cautious about imposing sanctions on Hezbollah, arguing it could fuel tensions
in the Middle East.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier
this month that Britain would be in favor of Hezbollah’s military wing being
blacklisted at the European level.
France had until now resisted
including Hezbollah in the EU terror list, because of fears it could lose
diplomatic leverage in Lebanon. The Netherlands lists Hezbollah’s entire
organization as a terror entity.Benjamin Weinthal and Reuters
contributed to this report.
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