'EU decision on blacklisting Hezbollah in late 2013'

Italian official says EU is slated to make a decision on adding Hezbollah to its list of terrorist organizations.

Hezbollah supporters Beirut 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Hezbollah supporters Beirut 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
BERLIN – Italian Deputy Foreign Minister for Development and Cooperation Lapo Pistelli said on Wednesday in Beirut that the EU is slated to make a decision in late 2013 on whether to include Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations.
The Italian official told Lebanese paper The Daily Star that a European decision on blacklisting Hezbollah will not take place for “at least five [or] six months.”
Pistelli’s timeline about a possible ban against Hezbollah confirms a statement made by a source who is well-versed in the EU debate on outlawing Hezbollah’s military wing. The source told The Jerusalem Post that an EU decision is likely to take place in November or December.
Media articles in early June reported that Italy spearheaded an effort to block the United Kingdom’s push to label Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist entity.
Italy along with Austria, Finland and the Czech Republic are considered the EU members that are the most opposed to designating Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
The Star reported that Pistelli said the debate among EU countries centered around evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement in a July 2012 terror attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, that resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.
According to the Lebanese paper, the debate over the Burgas attack is a primary reason for Pistelli’s view that “Hezbollah, or part of it, would not be added to the bloc’s terror list in the immediate future.”
“At the preliminary discussion in Brussels [earlier this month] there were some arguments raised by the Bulgarian government and the Cypriots about the proofs and evidences [pertaining to] blacklisting the organization...so it seems to me this decision will require time,” he told the Star.
Pistelli termed the EU move to ban Hezbollah “very sensitive,” stressing that the organization is a very “relevant player” in Lebanon.
“If you want to make a national unity government, [Hezbollah] cannot be left out. You see the Europeans discussing about [blacklisting] Hezbollah, but here the Shi’ites voting for Hezbollah are such a relevant part of the country.... You can’t take out from the game a relevant part of Lebanese society,” he stated.