British ambassador to Lebanon says Hezbollah blacklisting was not meant to target Shiites
British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher expressed concern on breaches to the dissociation policy by some parties, denying that the EU's decision to blacklist Hezbollah's military wing doesn't target the Shiite sect.
“The dissociation policy is shaky, in particular after Iran decided to send Lebanese men to fight for (President Bashar) Assad,” Fletcher said in an interview with As Safir newspaper on Tuesday.
He urged Lebanese officials to resume the national dialogue and prioritize Lebanon's interests.
“Violating the dissociation policy poses threat on Lebanon as it allows the conflict in Syria to slip over into Lebanon. Lebanon must be neutral,” the ambassador said.
Hezbollah, 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.
Fletcher denied reports saying that the EU's decision to blacklist Hezbollah's military wing targets a certain sect or Lebanon in general, saying: “It targets a specific group that carried out a bombing in Bulgaria.”
The Council of the European Union and the European Commission added in July Hezbollah's military wing to the EU's list of entities, groups and persons involved in terrorist acts.
Israel had blamed Iran and its Lebanese "terrorist proxy" Hezbollah for the Bulgaria bombing, the deadliest attack on Israelis abroad since 2004 and the first in a EU member state.
Fletcher stressed that the EU has evidence on Hezbollah's military wing involvement in the Burgas bombing.
“We tried as much as we can to minimize the impact of the decision on Lebanon and safeguard it... Those who are not involved have nothing to fear... We have enough evidence to unveil those who did the bombing,” the diplomat stated.
Five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver were killed in a bus bombing at Burgas airport on the Black Sea in July 2012.
It took Bulgaria six months to make what it called a "justified conclusion" that Hezbollah was behind the attack.
More than a year on, the investigation is still bogged down by lengthy procedures for collecting witness testimony from Israel and legal assistance reports from abroad.
Fletcher ruled out that the EU decision came in light of an earlier decision to ban its 28 members from dealing with Jewish settlements.
“It was merely a coincidence that the two decision were issued at the same time,” he told As Safir newspaper.
Fletcher pointed out that his country is holding onto maintaining stability in Lebanon and support the Lebanese army.