The Belgium Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a resolution calling on the Belgian government to ban Russian diamonds from entering the country and to add Russian state-owned miner Alrosa to the next round of European Union (EU) sanctions.
Hans Merket, a researcher with the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) who testified in favor of the resolution, says the resolution’s passage will have no immediate consequences.
It “still has to go through the plenary of the parliament,” he says. “As it has the unanimous support of all parties in government, this is not expected to pose problems.
“It basically serves to signal Belgium’s support—and to give the prime minister the mandate—to promote incorporating a ban on Russian diamonds and the listing of Alrosa in the next EU sanctions package,” he says.
Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) spokesperson Tom Neys agrees the resolution will “have no immediate impact.”
He says: “It underscores how Antwerp and AWDC are looking to contribute to reasonable and watertight solutions to verify the origin of a diamond and exclude Russian diamonds from the G7 markets.”
But in what seems like a pivot away from proposals currently on the table, Neys says that “Belgium will not accept rubber-stamping solutions—like, for example, a system of declarations. A science-based solution will deliver the strongest guarantee for an equal playing field globally to enter the G7 markets.”
Diamonds have not appeared in any of the 10 sanctions packages announced by the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Critics say this has allowed Russian diamonds to continue to flow into Belgium.
Belgium’s government and local industry have generally argued that a ban would be counterproductive, as Russian diamonds would just go to Dubai, which would hurt Antwerp rather than Russia.
Belgium has instead touted a solution that encompasses the entire G7 and includes a mechanism for keeping diamonds out of major consumer markets, like the United States.
In March, ambassador James C. O’Brien, head of the U.S. Office of Sanctions Coordination, told JCK that the United States hoped to present a proposal for keeping Russian diamonds out of G7 markets at the group’s upcoming summit, which will be held in Hiroshima, Japan, from May 19 to 23.
(Photo courtesy of Belgium Parliament)
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