Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has said Belgium never tried to block measures against the Russian diamond trade in response to circulating claims to this effect.
Within the federal government, there are an increasing number of calls to halt the import of Russian diamonds to Belgium. So far, the diamond sector has remained largely unaffected by the European sanctions against Russia. De Croo stressed that Belgium has not been working to block such measures.
"I would like to formally say that our country has never obstructed any measures regarding diamonds. Our country has never intervened in this respect," he told Radio 1 on Wednesday.
He added that Belgium recognises the decisions regarding sanctions are taken by the European Commission, and behind the decisions is that it will have more impact on Russia than on EU Member States. "We have never opposed this as a country," he said.
"The reasoning is also that when you take measures that involve all countries, so if the European Commission proposes that, our country is certainly not going to oppose it," he added.
Rest of the world should follow
On Tuesday, it was reported that Russian Russian state-owned company Alrosa, with which Antwerp diamond merchants regularly trade, is also closely involved in the Russian military apparatus and financing the country's war. It reportedly also has ties with the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, which develops nuclear weapons.
The Flemish Green party Groen and French-speaking socialist party PS have called on the federal government to advocate an import ban on Russian rough diamonds to the EU in light of revelations that Belgium is indirectly helping to finance the war through diamond purchases, according to reports from De Morgen.
- Antwerp diamond dealers linked to Russian nuclear weapons
- Sanctions against Russia: Flanders suspends almost €200 million exports
- Belgian companies refuse to leave Russia
"If Alrosa is involved in the arms industry, it is not logical that it can continue to operate and we need to see how we can intervene," said Federal Employment Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS).
Meanwhile, leader of the right-wing party N-VA Bart De Wever and Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon also want to cut diamond trade with Russia. However, De Wever stressed in an interview with VTM Nieuws that Belgium should not be the only one to do so, and that "the rest of the world should follow."