BEIRUT: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised the EU decision to designate Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, saying the move was a “strong message” to the party.
“We applaud the European Union for the important step it has taken today,” Kerry said in a statement.
“With today’s action, the EU is sending a strong message to Hezbollah that it cannot operate with impunity, and that there are consequences for its actions, including last year’s deadly attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, and for plotting a similar attack in Cyprus,” he added.
EU’s 28 foreign ministers reached the decision unanimously at their monthly meeting earlier Monday to blacklist the group’s military wing.
Washington along with Israel has pressured the EU to blacklist the party, notably following a deadly bus blast in the Black Sea resort of Burgas which killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver.
Kerry said such a decision would have a “significant impact on Hezbollah’s ability to operate freely in Europe by enabling European law enforcement agencies to crack down on Hezbollah’s fundraising, logistical activity and terrorist plotting on European soil.”
The U.S. has designated the entire party of Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
Although Hezbollah has not yet commented on the issue, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman hoped the EU would reconsider its decision in order to preserve stability in the country, where the resistance group is a political party with legislative and government representation.
In his statement, Kerry also called on other countries to do the same and “take steps to begin reining in Hezbollah’s terrorist and criminal activities."