Wallonia does not exclude suspending licences for exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia if the country’s government is found to be involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Walloon President-Minister Willy Borsus spoke to television programs RTBF and RTL-TVi on Sunday. Their decision would be made in consultation with other countries.
Wallonia is backing the European request for a “serious and thorough” investigation. “We will consult with other European and non-European countries and base our position on the results of the investigation”, he said.
If the accusations levelled at Saudi Arabia are confirmed, “it is inexcusable”, says the Walloon President-Minister. “Action would need to be taken, which could include the suspension of weapons deliveries”. Mr Borsus told the Belga agency that Wallonia will take note of Germany’s reaction. “So long as the questions surrounding Mr Khashoggi’s death remain unanswered, I can’t imagine the German government will approve exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia”, the German Foreign Affairs minister Heiko Maas said during an interview with TV channel ARD on Saturday evening.
Saudi Arabia was the Walloon weapons industry’s biggest client in 2017, with a contract worth a total of 153 million euros. Mr Borsus will discuss the subject with Belgian Foreign Affairs minister Didier Reynders on Monday. The two MR ministers have accompanied the royal couple on their state visit to Portugal. In June 2017, the Chamber approved a bill on Saudi-Belgo relations. The bill asks regional authorities to no longer authorise the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. The MR, then in opposition in Wallonia, supported it.