Bulgaria calls for EU to blacklist Hezbollah

Lebanon PM says it will ask Europe to not brand Shi’ite group, a ‘main component of Lebanese society,’ as terrorists

Smoke rises into the sky after an explosion at Burgas airport, Bulgaria, July 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Burgasinfo)
Smoke rises into the sky after an explosion at Burgas airport, Bulgaria, July 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Burgasinfo)

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s prime minister has called for a consensus decision by the EU on blacklisting Hezbollah’s military wing.

Speaking Thursday at a memorial ceremony for the victims of last year’s bomb attack at the Burgas airport, in which five Israeli tourists and a bus driver died, Plamen Oresharski said cooperation with all political parties in Lebanon should continue.

“It is important that the EU works for a consensus decision to allow the blacklisting of Hezbollah’s military wing, but also to keep the cooperation with all political parties and the financial support for Lebanon — our important partner in the Middle East,” he said.

On Thursday, Lebanon said that it will ask the European Union not to name Hezbollah a terrorist organization. A statement released by President Michel Suleiman’s office said Hezbollah is a “main component of Lebanese society.”

The EU is reassessing whether to declare Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, a move it has long avoided despite US pressure.

The move was bolstered by Germany’s policy change after long resisting calls to list Hezbollah for fear it could destabilize Lebanon.

Germany said it was pushed toward declaring Hezbollah a terror group by the Burgas attack.

Bulgaria’s interior minister said Wednesday that new evidence has bolstered its case implicating Hezbollah in a deadly July 2012 bus bombing, but investigators still do not know the specific identities of the suspects.

In February, an official Bulgarian report said investigators had “well-grounded reasons” to suggest that two men suspected in the attack belonged to the militant wing of Hezbollah.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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