EU blacklists Hezbollah's armed wing

2013-07-22 13:09
British Foreign Secretary William Hague addresses the media prior to the start of the EU foreign ministers meeting at the European Council building in Brussels. (AP)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague addresses the media prior to the start of the EU foreign ministers meeting at the European Council building in Brussels. (AP)

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Brussels - The European Union has declared the military wing Lebanese party Hezbollah a terrorist group.

A French diplomat says that the Monday decision by the blocs 28 foreign ministers was reached unanimously. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The Iranian-backed group plays a pivotal role in Lebanese politics, dominating the government since 2011, and has since sent its members to bolster Syria's President Bashar Assad forces in their assault of rebel-held areas.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "the great majority" of the 28 EU member states supported the plans.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that evidence from last year's attack in the Black Sea resort of Burgas in Bulgaria, which killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian, should have given enough impetus for the move. Westerwelle said that "we have to answer this, and the answer is" blacklisting Hezbollah's the military wing.

Reaction

The attack on EU territory plus a Cyprus criminal court decision in March finding a Hezbollah member guilty of helping to plan attacks on Israelis on the Mediterranean island has galvanized EU diplomacy in moving toward action.

"We should name names because time comes to tell the truth," said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevicius, who chaired Monday's meeting. "What was done by the military wing in the region and elsewhere I would say, there should be some reaction."

Hezbollah has denied involvement in the attack on the bus in Bulgaria.

The blacklisting means imposing visa bans on individuals and asset freezes on organisations associated with the group.

But the implementation would be complicated since officials would have to unravel the links between the different wings within Hezbollah's organizational network and see who could be targeted for belonging to the military wing.

Pivotal role


The Iranian-backed group plays a pivotal role in Lebanese politics, dominating the government since 2011, and has since sent its members to bolster Syria's President Bashar Assad forces in their assault of rebel-held areas.

Even though evidence from Bulgaria and Cyprus will be key in the decision, several EU nations also have pointed to Hezbollah's involvement in Syria as a reason for the move.

Hague said that blacklisting Hezbollah's military wing would not "destabilize Lebanon or have serious adverse consequences".

"It is important for us to show that we are united and strong in facing terrorism," Hague said.

- AP

Read more on:    eu  |  guido westerwelle  |  william hague  |  bulgaria bus blast
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