Several European Union countries reportedly raised questions over the evidence linking Hezbollah to the July 2012 bombing of a bus of Israeli tourists in Bourgas, Bulgaria, at a closed-doors meeting on June 4 in Brussels to discuss a British formal request for the EU to blacklist the military wing of Hezbollah.
According to several sources, at the meeting of the EU working group on terrorist designations (CP931) several EU governments also expressed concern that such a move would increase instability in the Middle East now that Lebanon is already suffering spillover from the civil war in Syria, the European Jewish Press reported.
Among these countries are Finland, Sweden, Austria, Italy and Ireland, the country holding the six-month EU presidency.
Britain last month announced it wanted the EU to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing over its role in the Bourgas bombing that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver in July 2012.
France and Germany later dropped their previous objections to blacklist the Lebanese group and threw their weight behind the British push amid signs that Hezbollah was increasingly involved in the Syrian conflict in support of president Bashar al-Assad.
But others were more cautious like Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino who said her government needs more evidence from Bulgaria and is concerned for “the fragility of Lebanon”.
In February, Bulgaria’s then-interior minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, presented a preliminary report linking Hezbollah to the bombing and a month later a Cypriot court convicted a 24-year-old member of Hezbollah of charges he plotted terror attacks against Jews.
But the new Bulgarian socialist government appears to be more cautious about whether to include Hezbollah on the terror list, the EJP said.
Unanimity of the 27-member states is needed to put a group or organisation on the EU terror list.
The UK already includes Hezbollah’s military wing on its terror list and the Netherlands blacklists the whole organisation.
(Photo from the terrorist bombing in Bourgas in July 2013: Interior Ministry)