Bulgaria: No Backtrack over Burgas
Bulgaria denied Thursday backtracking over whether Hizbullah was behind a bomb attack last July on its soil that killed five Israelis, saying earlier comments were misinterpreted, AFP reported.
"Bulgaria has not revised its stance on the terrorist act," Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin was cited in a statement as telling Ireland's ambassador to Sofia, John Rowan, in talks.
On Wednesday, in an interview with state BNR radio, Vigenin had said that evidence that Hizbullah was behind the attack at Burgas airport on the Black Sea was "circumstantial" and "not categorical" at this stage.
He urged the European Union to seek additional proof from other cases before labeling the Lebanese organization's military wing a "terrorist" entity, sparking press speculation of a change in position by Sofia.
A statement from the previous government in February had said that there was a "justified conclusion" that two helpers of the bomber belonged to the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement, which is a proxy of Iran.
That led to renewed calls for the EU to join the United States in adding Hizbullah's military wing to its list of "terrorist" groups, according to AFP.
"Bulgaria is ready to join a consensus decision of the EU and it is our responsibility to present an even more solid basis for this," Vigenin was cited as saying Thursday.
In order to do this, Bulgaria urged swifter responses to requests for assistance it has sent to several countries, he added.
Israel, Lebanon, Australia and Morocco were mentioned by chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov in February as the countries Sofia had asked for help.
Five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver were murdered in the July 18 bombing on their tourist bus. The identity of the lone bomber, who also perished, has so far remained a mystery.
The attack was the deadliest on Israelis abroad since 2004 and Israel immediately blamed it on Iran and Hizbullah, but Bulgarian investigators have, however, been more cautious.
Iran denied involvement.
The EU opened the door to blacklisting Hizbullah following a formal British request last month, but the decision is still being discussed and will require unanimous approval.