Lebanon Prime Minister says he regrets EU decision
BEIRUT: Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Monday he regretted the European Union's decision to list Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group, but noted that Lebanon is committed to its international legitimacy.
“The Lebanese community, with all its components, is committed to international legitimacy and maintaining the best relations with European Union countries,” Mikati said in a statement after the EU made its decision.
“We will follow up the issue via diplomatic channels and we wish the EU countries had conducted a careful review of the facts and the additional data,” he added.
The EU blacklisted the Shiite group’s military wing earlier Monday despite diplomatic efforts by Lebanese officials to prevent the decision. Government officials argued that Hezbollah is a major component of political life and cannot be ignored.
Caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour described the organization's step as hasty.
"The European Union's step to place Hezbollah's military wing on a terror list is hasty,” Mansour told a local radio station.
He said the decision was supposed to be deliberated more so that the step would not "reflect negatively" on Lebanon.
Pressure on the party mounted from the U.S. and its ally, Israel, following last year’s bombing in Bulgaria which targeted a bus carrying Israelis. The attack killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver in the Black Sea resort of Burgas and came around the same time as a Cyprus court’s decision in March that found a Hezbollah member guilty of helping to plan attacks on Israelis in the island.
The EU’s 28 foreign ministers reached the decision unanimously at their monthly meeting.
The listing raises many questions about how European countries will deal with Lebanon and its government particularly if Hezbollah members are leading it.
British Ambassador Tom Fletcher said on his Twitter feed that the organization’s blacklisting of Hezbollah would not affect dealings with the party’s political wing.
“EU listed Hizballah due to their activity inside Europe. Does not alter cooperation with Lebanon [government], nor EU contact with political [representatives],” Fletcher said.