24 November 2023

The European Union (EU) adopted on Friday, February 24, a tenth “package” of sanctions against Russia, but one sector, that of diamonds, the country’s third export product after oil and gas, still escapes it. , while he also contributes to financing Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

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The European Commission has never proposed targeting this Russian sector, while an EU member state, Belgium, claims that such a measure “would not make economic sense” since she “would penalize a particular Member State” – namely itself –, while Russia “will always be able to sell his diamonds elsewhere”. An appeal launched in March 2022 by Volodymyr Zelensky, who addressed the Belgian deputies by videoconference, remained without effect.

“Peace is more important than Russian diamonds sold in Antwerp. Help us ! », had pleaded, in vain, the Ukrainian president. Lobbyists for the diamond industry in Antwerp, in the north of the country, the world’s largest, argue that depriving their sector of stones from Russia – the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds – would lead to a 30% drop in their turnover. of business and would threaten 10,000 direct jobs, while other world markets, which would not apply restrictive measures, would benefit from it.

G7-wide management request

Attentive to these demands, the government of liberal Alexander De Croo pleads for a more international approach and has been opposing for months an embargo demanded by other EU member countries (Poland, Ireland and the Baltic States ). Even if, within his majority, elected officials are pushing for the rapid adoption of sanctions, the Belgian Prime Minister has worked to ensure that the file is not considered only at European level, but at that of the G7, which brings together Canada , the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom in addition to the EU, France, Germany and Italy. Or 70% of the world diamond market.

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Mr. De Croo has achieved part of his goal. A press release published on February 24, following a meeting by videoconference of the leaders of the G7, indicated that“given the significant revenue that Russia derives from the export of diamonds”, Member States will work to “future measures including (Diamonds) raw and polished »with the aim of also involving “key partners”.

Concretely, Belgium hopes that the G7, and in particular the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, which have already targeted Russian diamonds, will be able to exert sufficient pressure on India, the United Arab Emirates or Qatar. so that they also play the game. A crucial theme, since it is in these countries that Russian diamonds could end up, more massively than today. “Do we want to strengthen less ethical and less transparent commercial circuits? », asks the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC), whose mission is to“to work to keep local industry at the forefront”.

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