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Lebanon News

Bulgaria did not ask EU to blacklist Hezbollah

Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters wave flags during a rally to commemorate Martyrs' Day in Beirut, February 16, 2013. (REUTERS/Sharif Karim)

BEIRUT: The Bulgarian Charge d’Affaires in Lebanon Plamen Tzolov said Thursday his government did not ask for Hezbollah be listed as a terror organization when it submitted its report to the European Union on the 2012 Burgas bus bombing that killed five Israelis.

Following talks with former President Amin Gemayel, the Kataeb leader’s office quoted Tzolov as saying that Sofia had not asked the EU to blacklist Hezbollah when it handed the regional organization its report on the bus attack in the Black Sea resort.

He added that the investigation into the attack was still ongoing and would remain confidential.

Earlier this month, Bulgaria said two men with links to Hezbollah were behind the attack.

The accusations led to renewed U.S. and Israeli calls on the EU to blacklist the Lebanese group.

Bulgaria’s foreign minister Monday urged European governments to take a harder stance toward Hezbollah.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov told reporters in Brussels that Europe should take collective measures against Hezbollah, Reuters news agency reported.

Tzolov, according to Gemayel’s office, said that the process of blacklisting a group needed to undergo a critical evaluation that takes into consideration all the facts of the case and required a unanimous decision by the EU’s 27 member states.

He added that European foreign ministers had studied the case but that their deliberations were confidential.

Hezbollah’s leader has said his party would refrain from commenting on the accusation but that it would monitor developments in the case.

Hours after Sofia accused the two men in the case, Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem indirectly dismissed the charges, accusing Israel of waging a global terror campaign against the group.

Separately, Israeli President Shimon Peres made a fresh call for the EU to put Hezbollah on its terror blacklist.

“It has been proved that Hezbollah carried out the terror attack in Bulgaria, on European soil, and killed innocent civilians,” Peres said in remarks released by his office.

“Today there is further evidence of the activities of the organization and its Iranian dispatchers around the world, including in Cyprus and Nigeria.”

Peres was referring to the trial in Cyprus of a Lebanese-Swedish man who has admitted to belonging to Hezbollah, but denied planning attacks on Israeli targets.

Peres was also alluding to Nigeria’s announcement late Wednesday that it had arrested three men who were allegedly spying for Iran and gathering information on potential Israeli and U.S. targets in Lagos.

“It is time that all countries of the world – especially the European Union – put Hezbollah on the list of terror organizations,” Peres said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 22, 2013, on page 3.

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