17 July 2013 – Brussels – The AJC Transatlantic Institute called on the European Union to finally take punitive measures against the terror group Hezbollah one year after the horrid attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, which killed six and injured 32.
“It is incomprehensible that one year on, the EU has still not taken any action against the perpetrators of one of the worst terror attacks on EU soil,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. “EU inaction sends a dangerous message of weakness, emboldens Hezbollah, and may invite more terrorism in Europe.”
On 18 July 2012, a bomb exploded on an airport bus in Burgas, killing five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver. The Bulgarian interior ministry has said repeatedly that the on-going police investigation points to Hezbollah.
In March, a Cypriot court convicted self-identified Hezbollah member Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a dual Lebanese and Swedish citizen, of five charges related to a planned attack in Cyprus, which authorities foiled last July.
“The conviction in Cyprus means the criteria for adding Hezbollah to the EU’s terrorist list has been more than met – forget the countless other acts of terror they have perpetrated over the years,” said Schwammenthal. “So what’s the hold up? A fear of destabilising Lebanon? Hezbollah’s record in its own country, including assassinating former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005, clearly shows the destabilising role it is already playing there.”
The UK government has requested that the EU list the "military wing" of Hezbollah, a call that has received vocal support from the French and German governments. The EU will discuss the issue at the next Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 22 July (Monday).
“Any designation will be the first official recognition by the EU of Hezbollah's true nature—terror,” said Schwammenthal. “Should the EU fail to take action on Monday, more than one year after the Burgas attack, it will essentially be telling Hezbollah that it can get away with murder. That will not leave EU citizens any safer.”
AJC, a global advocacy organization, maintains offices across Europe – in Berlin, Paris and Rome – along with its Transatlantic Institute in Brussels.