EU Reluctant to Include Hezbollah in Terrorist Blacklist

January 28, 2013, Monday // 01:39
Bulgaria: EU Reluctant to Include Hezbollah in Terrorist Blacklist
The July 18 terror attack, carried out at the Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, killed seven, including five Israeli tourists, the Bulgarian bus driver and a suspected suicide bomber. Photo by BGNES

EU may refuse to include Hezbollah in its blacklist even if it turns out that the organization was responsible for last year's terror attack in Bulgaria's Burgas, according to an official.

The bloc's top counter-terrorism official, Gilles de Kerchove, has told EUobserver that Bulgaria's investigation into the incident is likely to be concluded next month.

In 2012, European diplomats were quoted saying that he results of Bulgaria's probe in July's bombing of an Israeli tour bus, including a possible Hezbollah lead, will be "essential" for the EU process to list the Lebanese organization as a terrorist entity. However, De Kerchove has explained that the situation is not so simple.

"First, we need to reach conclusions with strong evidence that it was the military wing of Hezbollah [which bombed Burgas]. That's the prerequisite, even in legal terms, but then, as always in the listing process, you need to ask yourself: 'Is this the right thing to do?'," he said.

"For Hezbollah, you might ask, given the situation in Lebanon, which is a highly fragile, highly fragmented country, is listing it going to help you achieve what you want? ... There is no automatic listing just because you have been behind a terrorist attack. It's not only the legal requirement that you have to take into consideration, it's also a political assessment of the context and the timing," he also noted.

De Kerchove has added that there is "no consensus" among EU states on whether listing Hezbollah would be helpful or not.

Five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed in the July 18 terrorist attack in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Burgas. 32 Israeli tourists were injured. Israeli and American intelligence and officials largely blame Hezbollah for the attack.

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