Bulgarian President welcomes EU foreign ministers’ decision on Hezbollah

There was mixed reaction to the decision on July 22 by European Union foreign ministers that Hezbollah’s military wing should be included in the EU list of terrorist organisations, with the Bulgarian President, Israel and the UK welcoming the move but with the Lebanese foreign ministry calling the decision a “rash move”.

President Rossen Plevneliev, whose country was the site of a July 2012 terrorist attack in which five Israelis and a Bulgarian died, with investigators linking the terrorist attack to members of Hezbollah’s military wing, welcomed the EU foreign ministers’ decision.

The decision, he said, was the result of joint efforts by EU member states and partner services for the protection of the security of citizens.

“It is also based on profound analyses of huge volume of information about the activity of people linked with terrorist acts on the territory of the EU,” Plevneliev said.

“No one should underestimate the decisiveness of the European Union to protest the security of its citizens and people who residing on its territory. Europe showed its policy of no compromise towards everyone daring to attempt on the life of citizens and threatens the security of innocent people on its territory,” he said.

The July 22 decision was strong signal that the EU would continue working jointly with the Lebanese institutions and to support democratic processes in that country, President Plevneliev said.

Israeli justice minister Tzipi Livni said that finally, after years of discussion and debate, the effort to label Hezbollah a legitimate political party had rightly failed. “It is clear to the whole world today that Hezbollah is a terror organisation,” she said.

William Hague, foreign secretary of the UK, the country that for weeks has been in the lead in the campaign for the EU to deem Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organisation, said that the decision sent a clear message that the EU was united against terrorism.

“It shows that no organization can carry out terrorist acts on European soil, such as the appalling attack in Bulgaria one year ago, without facing the consequences. European nations have rightly come together in response,” Hague said.

“It is good that the EU has decided to call Hezbollah what it is: a terrorist organisation,” Frans Timmermans, foreign minister of the Netherlands said, as quoted by the European Jewish Press. The Netherlands is the sole EU member state to have designated Hezbollah as a whole a terror group in 2004.

“I’m satisfied that we took this important step today, by dealing with the military wing of Hezbollah, freezing its assets, hindering its fundraising and thereby limiting its capacity to act,” Timmermans said.

“We should name names because time comes to tell the truth,” said Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Antanas Linkevicius, who chaired the July 22 meeting. “What was done by the military wing in the region and elsewhere I would say, there should be some reaction,” the EJP quoted Linkevicius as saying.

But Lebanese foreign minister Adnan Mansour was quoted by local media as saying that the EU foreign ministers’ decision that Hezbollah’s military wing should be on the list of terrorist organisations was a “rash move”.

“Lebanon expected the EU to wait with this move so there would not be negative consequences for the country,” he said. Mansour said that Lebanon was studying the decision and deciding how to respond.

Also on July 22, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said that decision would have no effect on Lebanon’s stability.

Bulgaria’s former prime minister Boiko Borissov, whose government was in office at the time of the July 2012 terrorist attack, called the EU decision ”an expression of solidarity with Bulgaria.”

“I would like to thank all Bulgarian services and institutions which worked with our partners in the EU, US, Israel, Australia, and Canada, not only to reveal who is behind the tragedy at theSarafovo airport, but also to make sure that everybody in Bulgaria and Europe can feel stronger and more secure today,” Borissov said.

(Photo of the bus bombed in the July 2012 terrorist attack in Bourgas: Bulgarian Interior Ministry)



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.