BRUSSELS, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Five member countries of the European Union have proposed banning the import of diamonds mined in Russia as the EU-27 prepares a new round of sanctions against Moscow, but this measure which requires the unanimity has so far aroused reluctance in Belgium.
As the European Commission is due to present new sanctions proposals this week, in response to the military mobilization decreed by Vladimir Putin, Ireland, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have proposed adding diamonds to the list. from Russia, whose company Alrosa is the world’s leading producer of rough stones.
Such a measure would affect the interests of Belgium, whose diamond industry represents 5% of exports and employs 30,000 people.
The World Diamond Center in Antwerp, the largest diamond trading center in the world, estimates that it would lose 30% of its turnover if it could no longer sell diamonds from Russia, and that this would benefit other countries that do not apply sanctions against Moscow.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo himself estimated on September 14 that sanctions targeting Russian diamonds would represent a “big loss” for his country, while ensuring that he had “never blocked measures linked to the diamond sector”.
The Foreign Minister and the Belgian representation to the EU did not respond to inquiries from Reuters about the five-country proposal. (Report by Gabriela Baczynska and Philip Blenkinsop, French version Tangi Salan)