Lebanon News

EU: Hezbollah blacklist won’t affect ties with Lebanon

File photo shows EU Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst speaking during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut(The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: The European Union will work with any Lebanese government even if Hezbollah is part of it, said EU Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst Tuesday, as Lebanese officials decried the move to list the resistance group's military wing as a terrorist organization.

“The EU will work with any Cabinet that represents all parties and even if Hezbollah was part of it," Eichhorst told reporters following a meeting with caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour.

“Ties with Lebanon will remain very strong. Lebanon is an important partner," she said.

The EU's 28 foreign ministers unanimously agreed Monday to put the military wing of Hezbollah on its terrorism blacklist, a move driven by concerns over the party’s role in a bus bombing in Bulgaria and its intervention in the Syrian war.

Eichhorst stressed that the EU differentiates between Hezbollah's political and military branches and it isn't trying to publicly pressure specific people.

"We do not talk about persons or individuals," she said.

The Ambassador said the EU will announce details of the resolution on Thursday and the body will review the listing every six months.

She said Mansour expressed regret at the EU decision, adding that she would inform Brussels about his views.

Condemnations of the EU action continued to come in from Lebanese politicians Tuesday.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the decision served Israeli interests.

“This decision in terms of timing and content expresses contempt for justice,” Berri said in a statement, adding that the EU action was not matched with a clear cause.

“The decision serves Israel free of charge,” he added.

For his part, Prime minister-designate Tammam Salam hoped the EU would reconsider its decision over Hezbollah arguing that listing the Shiite group as terrorist further complicates Lebanon’s political crisis.

“I hope the EU will reconsider its decision because such decision contradicts with the willingness of the countries of the European Union to help Lebanon overcome the complexities of its internal political situation, he said.

Salam said that Lebanon is experiencing a difficult stage and that it’s worrying the EU did not clarify the nature of the decision or its implications for Lebanon and the Lebanese.

“Such a decision does not help support the efforts of President Michel Sleiman to revive National Dialogue in order to promote stability and fortify the country on the security and political levels.”

The listing will make dealings with the military branch of Hezbollah more difficult and could stop money transfers to the organization from Europe.

Longer term impacts from the decision on Lebanon and the party are still unknown.

Officials from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon issued a press release about the EU ruling, attempting to clarify that European peacekeepers would not be influenced by the terrorism listing.

"UNIFIL troops, currently coming from 37 countries, operate under the UN flag. They do not act on behalf of their country and their actions are dictated by the UN Security Council mandate and rules of engagement of UNIFIL," the press release said.





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