22nd Sep 2023

Belgian mood turning against Russian diamonds

  • Consumer focus groups and MPs both unanimous, Belgian MP Vicky Reynaert said (Photo:
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

Become an expert on Europe

Get 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.


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.

EU’s €500m gender violence plan falls short, say auditors

The 'Spotlight Initiative' was launched in 2017 with a budget of €500 million to end all forms of violence or harmful practices against women and girls in partner countries, but so far it has had "little impact", say EU auditors.

Latest News

  1. Europe's energy strategy: A tale of competing priorities
  2. Why Greek state workers are protesting new labour law
  3. Gloves off, as Polish ruling party fights for power
  4. Here's the headline of every op-ed imploring something to stop
  5. Report: Tax richest 0.5%, raise €213bn for EU coffers
  6. EU aid for Africa risks violating spending rules, Oxfam says
  7. Activists push €40bn fossil subsidies into Dutch-election spotlight
  8. Europe must Trump-proof its Ukraine arms supplies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us