The debate around Belgian arms sales to Saudi Arabia, started on Sunday by the federal Minister for Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo, should not only be confined to this aspect. It should be taken to European level, including all forms of trade with Saudi Arabia. This is the view of the cdH (Humanist Democratic Centre).
Mr De Croo (of the Open Vld) on Sunday called for the cessation of deliveries to Saudi Arabia of weapons made in Belgium, specifically flagging up those made in the Walloon region, where the PS and cdH are jointly in government.
Joëlle Milquet, the ex-President of the cdH, supported the message from the Flemish Liberal on social media.
Questioned upon the position of the Centrist party, the office of the President, Benoît Lutgen, pointed out that the debate had now been opened at an internal level. “We are inviting Mr De Croo, in his capacity as federal Minister, to take the debate on ‘all’ forms of trade with Saudi Arabia to European level.”
Alexander De Croo had argued, on the “Zevende Dag” platform, that Wallonia represented some 60% of Belgian weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.
Recently, the Walloon Minister-President, Paul Magnette, had recalled that there were significant exports of Belgian armaments to Saudi Arabia in 2015. He emphasised that amongst these Walloon exports represented a value of some 287 million euros and Flemish exports in this sphere nearly three times that figure, or 887 million euros.
The growth in Belgian armament exports to Saudi Arabia has indeed not been happening in weapons and ammunition, but in the category of chemical and pharmaceutical products, as well as in machinery and equipment.
Mr De Croo had also mentioned on Sunday’s broadcast that this issue was outside of his jurisdiction based on the fact that arms licences fall under the jurisdiction of regional governments.