Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (162)

Charles Flanagan


162. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will support a proposal to have the EU designate the Lebanon based militant group Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in view of its objects and activities in particular the bombing last year of a tourist bus in Bulgaria resulting in the deaths of six people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10300/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Deputy is referring to the terrorist attack carried out by a suicide bomber on a passenger bus transporting Israeli tourists at Burgas Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria on 18 July 2012. The explosion killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver and injured thirty-two Israelis, resulting in international condemnation of the bombing. At the time, as Chairman in Office of the OSCE, I expressed revulsion at the attack, saying

“I wholeheartedly condemn this act of terrorism targeting innocent civilians. I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those killed, and to the people and Governments of Bulgaria and Israel. Such an attack makes it more clear than ever how important a united front and co-operation are to combat the scourge of terrorism, which knows no borders.”

I again express my wholehearted condemnation of this outrage.

On 5 February 2013, the Bulgarian interior minister announced that their preliminary investigation into the bombing had indicated that two of the suspects had links to the military wing of Hezbollah.

This matter has been discussed in a number of EU fora, most recently at the recent Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday 18th February 2013, when the Bulgarian Foreign Minister gave an initial briefing to EU Foreign Ministers on the findings of the investigation.

However, the EU has not yet decided that any particular action is to be taken in response to these developments.

Any designation by the EU of a group as a terrorist organisation is done on the basis of Council Common Position 2001/931(CFSP) on the application of specific measures to combat terrorism , adopted on 27 December 2001. This stipulates that such a designation shall be done on the basis of precise information and following a decision by a competent authority. Decisions on designation are taken by unanimity, following careful consideration of the information provided.