World Bulletin / News Desk
The European Union does not yet have sufficient evidence of Lebanese Hezbollah's activities in Europe to impose sanctions, the European Commission said on Thursday.
With backing by Israel, Bulgaria in February accused Hezbollah in a bombing in the Black Sea resort of Burgas last year that killed five Israelis in an accusation that opposition saw "quick blame" after pressure.
Israel also has stepped up lobbying in Brussels and Paris, calling on European governments to follow the United States in listing the Lebanese coalition partner as a "terrorist organisation" and impose financial sanctions on it.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, speaking at a news conference with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Brussels, said Bulgaria was still finalising its investigation into the attack and had asked the Lebanese government for help.
"The judicial process will show whether we should take political decisions. We cannot decide this in advance," Barroso said. "Once the perpetrators are known, their inclusion in the list ... may be considered."
"I hope that Hezbollah will be called to order," Peres said.
A European diplomat close to the issue said on Wednesday one EU member state was expected to file an official request to blacklist Hezbollah's military wing in the next month.
"A request should be made within a month and be considered in two to three months," the diplomat told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It has become an overwhelming case."
In Europe, only the Netherlands has listed Hezbollah as a terrorist group, while Britain blacklists the group's military wing. A Dutch diplomat said the Netherlands had no intention of filing a formal request to list Hezbollah's armed wing.
"The Netherlands has pleaded since 2004 to include Hezbollah on the EU list of terrorist organisations and has consistently expressed that view to its EU partners. The Netherlands will continue its efforts to list (all) of Hezbollah," he said.
France and Germany have opposed similar moves.
If the EU decides to add the resistance movement, established nearly 30 years ago to fight Israel's occupation of south Lebanon, European governments and companies would have to cease any financial dealings with it.Last Mod: 08 Mart 2013, 11:37