Slovenia declares all of Hezbollah a ‘criminal and terrorist organization’

FM Ashkenazi hails Central European nation for joining growing list of countries blacklisting Iranian-backed group in its entirety, calls on EU to follow suit

Supporters of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah salute as they stand behind motorcycles carrying the Shiite movement's flags in the southern Lebanese district of Marjayoun on the border with Israel, May 25, 2020. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

Slovenia on Monday designated Hezbollah in its entirety a terrorist organization, joining a growing number of European states who have taken similar steps in recent weeks to end differentiation between the group’s political and armed wings.

In a statement, the small Central European state’s government said that it will henceforth treat the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based group as “a criminal and terrorist organization posing a threat to peace and security.”

“Hezbollah’s activities are intertwined with organized crime and the conduct of terrorist or paramilitary activities on a global scale,” the government in Ljubljana said in a statement.

The decision followed the recommendations by the Permanent Coordination Group for Restrictive Measures, which is headed by a Slovenian Foreign Ministry official, which presented the government with a report on Hezbollah’s “activities and mode of operation,” according to the statement.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi thanked Ljubljana for the move. “This decision joins decisions made in recent months by governments in Europe and Latin American. Hezbollah is an organization that first and foremost hurts Lebanese citizens themselves and takes them hostage to serve Iran’s interests,” he said in a statement.

He called on other nations and on the European Union to follow suit.

Elnet, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Israel-Europe relations, welcomed Slovenia’s decision. “Slovenia joins a growing number of European countries that made this important step sending a clear message against violence, terrorism, and hatred,” the group said in a statement.

“Hezbollah has a long history of terror and terror-related activities against European targets and in Europe. Further action is necessary on the European level to address these threats.”

Illustrative: A Hezbollah supporter chants slogans as he holds his group’s flag during a protest against US involvement in Lebanon’s affairs, near the US embassy in Aukar, northeast of Beirut, Lebanon, July 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Also on Monday, the US State Department hailed Latvia’s recent decision to consider all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

“Latvia supports US implementation of sanctions related to Hizballah and has expressed a readiness to place national travel bans on individuals associated with Hizballah,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“The continued announcements by countries in Europe, Latin America, and other regions of actions against the terrorist organization send a strong message to Hizballah and its backers in Iran that a new day is coming,” the statement went on.

“On this new day, Hizballah operatives will no longer be able to operate from European soil, and the European Union will follow the lead of a number of European governments by closing the loopholes opened up by the false distinction between Hizballah’s so-called military and political wings.”

Until recently, most European countries considered only Hezbollah’s “military wing” a terrorist organization, arguing that its political wing is an integral part of Lebanon’s political landscape.

In the last year and a half, 16 countries announced that they consider the group in its entirety a terrorist organization — nine of them in the last six months — according to the Foreign Ministry. These countries include Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina, Colombia and others.

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