Bulgaria: EU could still act against Hezbollah

(JTA) — Bulgaria will provide further evidence to persuade the European Union to designate Hezbollah’s armed wing as a terrorist entity, the country’s interim prime minister said.

Marin Raikov said in Brussels on Wednesday that some EU countries were "not sufficiently convinced" by Bulgaria’s evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement in a suicide bombing last year that killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver.

"We will continue the investigation," he said. "We will continue to work on this very seriously, very actively. We will provide the needed evidence."

Raikov also said his country would not request the classification of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.

"It’s not for Bulgaria to initiate the technical procedure for the listing," he said. "I think that our partners will be able to do this once they reach a certain level of consensus on this issue."

Bulgaria accused the Lebanese militant movement on Feb. 5 of carrying out July’s bomb attack on a bus in the Black Sea city of Burgas, leading the EU to consider putting the group on its list of terrorist organizations.

Many European governments are cautious about imposing sanctions on Hezbollah, arguing it could fuel tensions in the Middle East. Some have demanded evidence that withstands a trial.

A number of European diplomats have said the conviction in Cyprus last week of a Hezbollah operative of plotting attacks on Israeli tourist targets, combined with the Bulgaria findings, has increased the likelihood of a designation.

The Netherlands is the only EU member state to officially consider the Hezbollah movement and militia terrorist entities, as do Israel, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Britain considers only the group’s military wing a terrorist entity. 

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