Monday

26th Feb 2024

Belgian mood turning against Russian diamonds

  • Consumer focus groups and MPs both unanimous, Belgian MP Vicky Reynaert said (Photo: vickyreynaert.com)
Listen to article

Nobody in Belgium wants Russian "blood diamonds" any more, but the next round of EU sanctions still won't ban them.

"Consumers don't want to buy diamonds with blood on them," said Vicky Reynaert, a Belgian left-wing MP.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Everybody knows what's being done with the money by Alrosa [Russia's biggest diamond firm] — it's going directly to finance the war against Ukraine", she said.

Reynaert spoke to EUobserver after a Belgian parliament committee, on Tuesday (25 April), backed her resolution calling for the Belgian government to support an EU-wide embargo on Russian stones.

The consumers in Reynaert's focus groups aside, Belgian MPs also voted unanimously in favour.

And a plenary vote in two weeks' time is expected to deliver the same outcome, the MP said. "Everybody agrees with our reasoning," she said.

The resolution is non-binding, but will be an "important signal" hard for Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo to ignore, she added.

Belgium's diamond market in Antwerp hoovers up 40 percent of Russia's €‎4bn a year diamond exports, creating 10,000 jobs.

The Belgian foreign ministry could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

De Croo has, in the past, said he wouldn't veto an EU-level ban.

But, at the same time, Belgian diplomats have argued it would see the Russian gems go to Dubai and India instead, costing the Kremlin nothing.

And instead, Belgium has proposed a G7-level scheme to trace and stop purchases of conflict stones by the seven wealthy countries that control the lion's share of the world market.

Poland and the Baltic states had called for an EU diamond ban in the next round of Russia sanctions, expected in May.

But this was unlikely to fly given the G7 idea and even Poland was applying little pressure to make it happen, one EU diplomat said.

For Reynaert however, the EU and G7 embargoes should come on top of one another.

"Let's do both," she said.

"We have to be clear — this trade in Russian diamonds relies on Alrosa, which is part of the Kremlin. The Kremlin owns 33 percent of it," she added.

"We know it's financing the war. And it's difficult to explain to other economic sectors in Belgium why they have to follow EU sanctions, suffering losses, but the diamond sector is doing nothing at all," the MP said.

Agenda

Visions of war and peace in Europe This WEEK

Russian president Vladimir Putin will cheer on a mini war-parade in Moscow on Tuesday, as German chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks of peace in Europe in Strasbourg.

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices
  2. Luxembourg denies blind spot on Nato security vetting
  3. Record rate-profits sees EU banks give shareholders €120bn
  4. Why the EU silence on why Orban's €10bn was unblocked?
  5. Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line
  6. More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK
  7. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  8. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us