EU Foreign Ministers Blacklist Hizbullah Military Wing
European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday to blacklist Hizbullah's armed wing, holding it responsible for terror attacks in Europe.
"It is good that the EU has decided to call Hizbullah what it is: a terrorist organization," said Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans.
"I'm satisfied that we took this important step today, by dealing with the military wing of Hizbullah, freezing its assets, hindering its fundraising and thereby limiting its capacity to act," Timmermans said.
"Agreement reached to list Hizbullah," one diplomat said, as ministers overcame reservations in some member states that such a move would further destabilize Lebanon.
A French diplomat said the decision by the EU's 28 foreign ministers was reached unanimously although it will take time to proceed to actual sanctions.
Hizbullah, which is close to Iran, is Israel's sworn enemy, and its recent intervention in Syria has dismayed Western powers who back rebels battling to oust President Bashar Assad.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said ahead of the decision that he did not believe that blacklisting Hizbullah "would destabilize Lebanon," adding: "It is important to show that we are united in face of terrorism."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also said ahead of Monday's meeting that evidence from the attack in the Black Sea resort of Burgas in Bulgaria, which killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian last year, should give enough impetus for the move.
Westerwelle said that "we have to answer this, and the answer is" blacklisting Hizbullah's military wing.
The attack on EU territory plus a Cyprus criminal court decision in March finding a Hizbullah member guilty of helping to plan attacks on Israelis on the Mediterranean island has galvanized EU diplomacy in moving toward action.
On Thursday, Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour asked Brussels not to blacklist Hizbullah on the grounds the group was an "essential component of Lebanese society."
He sent memos to the EU states upon the request of President Michel Suleiman.
Several EU member states had expressed sharp reservations over blacklisting.
A draft of the conclusions seen by Agence France Presse said ministers wanted to highlight the fact that the EU would maintain its political and economic links with Lebanon.
Applying "restrictive measures to combat terrorism does not prevent the continuation of dialogue with all political parties in Lebanon," the draft said.
"Legitimate financial transfers" and aid will also not be affected, it added.
Mansour had expected the EU foreign ministers to fail in declaring the military wing of Hizbullah a terrorist organization over the reservations expressed by some countries.
Among them are Cyprus, Malta, the Czech Republic and Ireland. Belgium and Sweden could join them, he told As Safir newspaper.
Mansour warned that such a decision would be a major blow to the Lebanese states.
He accused some Lebanese politicians of collaborating with the EU and some western diplomats to push for blacklisting Hizbullah's military wing.