Q. – For the past two days, there’s been a lot of talk about putting Hezbollah on the European list of terrorist groups. What is France’s real position?
THE SPOKESMAN – Firstly, it’s true a procedure involving all 27 [member states] has been triggered, at a member state’s request, to re-examine the issue of Hezbollah’s possible inclusion on the European lists. It’s up to the state that made the request to announce this if it wants to. According to the rule, discussions among the 27, whatever the subject, are confidential.
Secondly, this procedure is specific. The investigation is being carried out within a group that is examining the different evidence made known to the 27 states by the state which requested the discussion and which believes it has evidence to justify inclusion. The decision is taken unanimously. Let me add that we don’t necessarily have to await a decision at the next Foreign Affairs Council: the investigation may continue until after the Council, which is due next week.
Thirdly, on France’s position, we’ll see; it depends on these discussions and the evidence made known to us. For us, all the evidence concerning Hezbollah must be taken into account: the result of the inquiries started by the Cypriot and Bulgarian authorities following the Bourgas bomb attack, and also other considerations on [Hezbollah’s] involvement in the Syrian crisis alongside Bashar al-Assad – an ever clearer, more direct involvement, also recognized by Hezbollah.
So at the end of this discussion among the 27, it will be possible to take a decision.
Q. – You’ve mentioned three elements that enter the equation, namely the Cypriot inquiry, the Bulgarian inquiry and the involvement in the fighting in Syria. You previously brought in the Lebanon factor, too, and you were still saying Hezbollah was a political party. Now that it’s no longer in government, does that change the situation?
THE SPOKESMAN – No, the simple fact that it’s no longer in government doesn’t change the situation. This factor – the Lebanese political balance – comes into the discussion, of course. We have to talk about all this, in the knowledge that several types of decision are possible with regard to inclusion on terrorist lists: the inclusion of a group, the inclusion of part of a group, and the inclusion of certain individuals, for example.
Q. – Can we expect a decision between now and the summer?
THE SPOKESMAN – I can’t tell you. It will depend on the evidence passed on by the state behind the request and on the discussions among the 27.
Q. – Is a similar procedure under way on Al-Nusra, in this Relex working group?
THE SPOKESMAN – For Al-Nusra we’re on different ground. The request wasn’t presented in Brussels in the European Union framework, but in New York in the United Nations 1267 Committee framework. That’s the committee created by Resolution 1267, targeting al-Qaeda.
Q. – What are the consequences of inclusion on a list?
THE SPOKESMAN – Inclusion does indeed entail consequences, beyond the symbolic implications: sanctions in particular – for example, a visa ban on a number of leaders of the group concerned, or decisions on freezing assets. Those sanctions can be graduated.
Q. – Can a distinction be made between an organization’s military and political wings?
THE SPOKESMAN – It’s a distinction that has already been made. There are precedents. (…)./.