Lebanon: European Schizophrenia After Hezbollah Blacklisting
By: Firas Choufi
Published Friday, July 26, 2013
Before the EU’s decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s “military wing” was even publicly released, the EU Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst paid two of the party’s officials a visit to reassure them that the decision will not affect relations with the group’s “civilian wing.”
Eichhorst visited Ammar al-Musawi, liaison for international relations, and Minister of State Mohammad Fneish, declaring that “this decision is a political message to Hezbollah for the attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, which is a terrorist attack on European soil.”
She added, however, that this does not reflect on the Lebanese government in any way, explaining that the EU “has no problem with Hezbollah participating in any future government.” After her meeting with Hezbollah’s minister in the current caretaker government, she stated, “Financial assistance will continue, of which Minister Fneish’s ministry gets a sizeable share, and we want for this cooperation to continue.”
Both Musawi and Fneish stood their ground in their discussions with the European ambassador, insisting that the decision was an insult to the Resistance. They dismissed the decision as politically motivated, particularly given that the outcome of the Burgas investigation is rooted in allegations and conjecture, even by the admission of the ambassador herself who conceded that there are no firm results.
Fneish reminded the ambassador that “Israel occupied our land for many years, and we did not hear a single objection” from the EU, adding “we were careful to maintain good relations with Europe, despite the terrible legacy Europe left behind among our people – from the Palestinian cause to colonialism – and despite this, you choose to remind us again of this painful history.”
The minister reiterated Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s statement that the European decision will provide Israel with political cover for any future attack on Lebanon, in which case Hezbollah would consider the EU a partner in such a crime. Eichhorst replied, “The decision has nothing to do with resistance to Israel or Lebanese sovereignty.”
No one can say for sure what kind of impact the decision will have on Lebanese politics, but Eichhorst’s meetings with the Hezbollah officials suggest that the EU, for its part, does not want to sever lines of communications with the party. That does not mean, however, that the EU’s actions “will not have consequences,” as Musawi warned at the end of his meeting with the ambassador.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.