Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s criticism of Belgium’s continuing diamond trade with Russia, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that stopping the trade would only worsen the situation in Ukraine.
In 2021, recent reports revealed that Belgium had imported around €1.8 billion worth of rough Russian diamonds, indirectly financing President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
De Croo stated that while Zelenskyy puts pressure on the nation’s weak points, there should not be a complete end to the diamond trade.
As per the statement of De Croo, “We know that the diamond trade between Russia and Belgium is a difficult subject. But the sanctions are decided by the European Commission. The Commission always reasons that if we take measures, the impact of Russia must be much greater than us.”
According to De Croo, “Should Belgium stop importing diamonds, the trade would move to Dubai in one day. In that case, the impact on Russia would be zero, but the impact on Europe would be very great.”
During the speech in the Federal Parliament on Thursday, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was hard on Belgium and condemned the fact that Russian diamonds are still sold in Antwerp.
He said, “There are people for whom the diamonds sold in Antwerp are apparently more important than the battle we are waging. Peace is worth much more than diamonds. More than Russian ships in your ports.”
De Croo, however, rejected that Belgium was financing the war through the diamond trade. “The measures we take hit the Russian economy right in the heart. The last thing we need is for Europe to fall into a deep red economic crisis. That would only make the situation in Ukraine worse.”
However, he added that, “Should the European Commission decide to stop the diamond trade in Belgium, the authorities would not oppose that decision.”