Δευτέρα, 22 Ιουλίου 2013

EU to decide on blacklisting Hezbollah today

The European Union was set to vote Monday on whether to declare the military wing of Lebanese political party Hezbollah a terrorist organization, which could have far-reaching implications for European-Lebanese relations.
Hezbollah flag flies in Lebanon (photo credit: CC Upyernoz/Wikipedia)
Hezbollah flag flies in Lebanon (photo credit: CC Upyernoz/Wikipedia)


A council of EU foreign ministers are to reach a decision at their monthly meeting Monday morning. Putting an organization on the terrorist blacklist needs a unanimous vote from among the 28 member nations.


“There are still some reservations … but we are moving towards a decision on listing Hezbollah’s military wing,” a senior EU official told the AFP on Friday, adding that the vote would “not impact current EU policy and engagement with Lebanon” because it would not target the political arm of the Islamic group, which holds a powerful position in Lebanese politics.
The EU has long avoided a vote to declare Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, despite US pressure, for fears that such a move would destabilize Lebanon and its neighbors.
However, observers say there has been a steady change of heart within the EU, particularly in Germany, which has in the past resisted calls to list the Islamist group. Last week Germany said it was pushed toward declaring Hezbollah a terror group by evidence that the group’s military wing was behind the 2012 Burgas bombing in Bulgaria.
In February, an official Bulgarian report said investigators had “well-grounded reasons” to suggest that two men suspected in the attack belonged to the militant wing of Hezbollah, and on Wednesday, Bulgaria’s prime minister said that new evidence has bolstered its case implicating Hezbollah in the deadly bombing, which targeted a group of Israeli tourists arriving at the Burgas airport, killing five Israeli citizens and the Bulgarian bus driver, and injuring 32.
On Thursday, Lebanon said that it will formally request that the EU not name Hezbollah a terrorist organization. A statement released by President Michel Suleiman’s office said Hezbollah is a “main component of Lebanese society.”
EU officials have said that a decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing would be solely based on concerns over terrorism on European soil, not Hezbollah’s funding by Iran or support of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s ongoing civil war.
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