Bulgaria's minister says Hezbollah attack in his country will have serious consequences
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov speaks after a Bulgarian national security conference in Sofia. (AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF)
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Hezbollah’s involvement in the Burgas bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian “will not go without consequences,” Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov told al-Arabiya on Tuesday.
Mladenov said the possibility of labeling Lebanon’s militant movement, Hezbollah, as a terrorist group has been “on the table” for a while but his government didn’t want to make any official comments on the issue before showing any tangible evidence.
“For six months we haven’t said anything, but now we have very strong evidence that those who planned and executed the bombing are from the military wing of Hezbollah…we will take what we have to our colleagues at the EU and discuss with them on what position we can take to make sure that don’t happen again,” he said.
According to the minister, since the bombing had happened on European soil, follow up meetings will be held at high levels in the EU.
Both Israel and the United Stated urged the EU on Tuesday to take action against Hezbollah and to label the militant group as “terrorist,” but Europe until now had refrained from following U.S. footsteps to blacklist it.
On Tuesday, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that a six-month investigation since the bombing had led to two suspects holding Australian and Canadian passports. The suspects were directly linked to Hezbollah’s armed wing.
As investigation continues, Mladenov told Al-Arabiya that the next step would be to reach out for judicial cooperation from Lebanon. He said a request for information was sent to the Lebanese authorities, similarly to Australia and Canada.
The minister, however, didn’t give any further details on the type of information requested.
On Tuesday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that his country is “ready” to cooperate with Bulgaria with its ongoing investigation.
Mladenov said that during the day he had very positive phone conversations with both Mikati and his Lebanese counterpart, Adnan Mansour - the latter an ally of Hezbollah - who both sent strong messages about Lebanon’s commitment to fight terrorism.
As he praised the strong bilateral relations with Lebanon, he said that Beirut has “a strong interest in getting to the bottom of the matter,” and that he was encouraged by Mikati’s “positive public statement.”