Agence France Presse
Published — Thursday 7 February 2013
Last update 7 February 2013 12:42 am
SOFIA: Bulgaria’s foreign minister defended himself yesterday against accusations that Sofia lacked the proof to blame Hezbollah for a July bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian.
“If Bulgaria did not have enough arguments to announce that the traces in this attack lead to Hezbollah’s military wing, we would not have done it,” Nikolay Mladenov said on BNT television.
Nearly seven months after the bombing of an Israeli tourist bus at the Black Sea airport of Burgas, Sofia on Tuesday had said two Canadian and Australia passport-holders with links to Hezbollah were to blame.
This led to renewed calls from the United States, Israel and Canada on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a “terrorist” organization. Israel had immediately after the attack pointed the finger at Iran and its “terrorist proxy” Hezbollah but until now Bulgarian investigators had stopped short of following suit.
Bulgarian analysts yesterday accused the government of not having enough proof to level what may turn out to a dangerous accusation, and of kowtowing to Washington and Israel.
“We have joined the camp of US and Israel... allowing to be drawn into the big game where Hezbollah has to be eliminated as it supports the regime in Syria,” international security expert Simeon Nikolov said.
“Do our leaders realize the responsibility they take in announcing results, which are not categorically backed by evidence?” the expert added on BNT television, slamming what he saw as “a strategic mistake” by the government.
Hezbollah is the most powerful faction in the current Lebanese cabinet, and its militia is the most powerful military force in Lebanon.
On Tuesday EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that member states would now “discuss the appropriate response,” saying that she “underlines the need for a reflection over the outcome of the investigation.”