Yet again Flemish trade mission to Saudi Arabia, despite criticism of Bourgeois


Toch weer Vlaamse handelsmissie naar Saudi-Arabië, ondanks kritiek Bourgeois

In march there is a new economic mission to Saudi Arabia, despite earlier statements from Bourgeois. “This is purely economic, without politicians.’

‘Is your company active in the field of entertainment, sports, construction, or urban development? Explore together with Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT), the opportunities in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar’, says the official announcement of the groepszakenreis that the Flemish government agency are organising in march.

Saudi Arabia is a country that is strong bet on the development of the entertainment industry, including cinemacomplexen, amusement parks, and great live shows’. Only ride the FIT, of which the Flemish minister-president Bourgeois, the competent minister is, around the earlier message of the Flemish government.

Party N-VA pulled last year all the stops against the human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, when to rise from their seat in the UN Committee for the Rights of women. Bourgeois announced in parliament to no economic missions more to organise in the country. “It is the chambers of commerce of course free to do that, without the involvement of the Flemish Government. We can not intervene, but I certainly do not organize, ” she said.

Also, federal party leader Peter De Roover joined there at the time resounding. “The society is in Saudi Arabia are explicitly based on a wahabitische perception of islam. The gap with our basic rights is very large, and today, almost irreconcilable. In that respect multitudes we behind the decision of the Flemish minister-president Bourgeois order no longer Flemish trade missions to Saudi Arabia to organize, and we ask the same attitude of the federal government.’

  • READ ALSO. Peter De Roover: ‘Saudi Arabia can’t continue to hide

Since then, the political situation in Saudi Arabia there is not immediately improved. Bourgeois joined in October at the ‘moral outrage’ about the murder on the critical Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ‘brutal and very gruesome violation of human rights’.

However, Bourgeois today is not a hesitation in the trade mission of the FIT. “This is an autonomous decision of the FIT, at the request of the companies, for a purely economic mission. In that sense, it is the prime minister so not politically involved, and he remains so consistently, ” said his spokeswoman Lisa Lust.

About the earlier statements of Bourgeois she emphasizes that ” there are two types of economic missions’. ‘Those which he organizes itself, and the ones that FIT autonomous capture. He then spoke only about that first, that we had perhaps clearer to explain.’

The Flemish government can indeed the lines of the policy with the FIT, but Bourgeois is not going to be on the brake. “It’s about sectors, with the innocent products,” says Lust. “Flanders does not embargoes themselves, we also organize missions to China and Iran. Our reasoning was always that trade relations are better than us completely shut down a country.”

Also, the FIT itself is not evil and greedy. “As long as there is no general embargo come from Belgium, Europe, or the UN, and we have no weapons to export, there are no objections possible,” says project manager Mohsin Abbas.


The attitude of the Bourgeois does, however, raise questions as to the opposition parties. “It is incomprehensible that Flanders, the tires want to share with a country like Saudi Arabia, especially during a horrific conflict like that with Yemen. Our attitude would be totally, unequivocally should be, ” says Green member of parliament Wouter Van Besien.

SP.A-mp Tine Soens is a Bourgeois his word fulfil and the trip cancels. “In Saudi Arabia, people are openly executed, those who have a different political opinion is persecution, and torture, there are no taboo. There is a zakenonderonsje organize is also a mannenonderonsje, because women should only open their mouths without the permission of their husband, father or son. From Flanders this kind of zakenreisjes continue to organize, is the same as to condone what is happening there.’

Profile) CD&V see fewer objections. “It is not illogical that our companies a piece of the action like the action of a booming business,” says Flemish mp Ward Kennes, ” but we pray that the official guidance of the FIT in one way or another uses their contacts to our concerns about the human rights to convey’.