7sur7 accessed to emails of Belgium foreign ministry confirming the deliberate and conscious decision of the administration to vote for Saudi’s seat in U.N. commission despite its lack of respect for women’s rights in the Kingdom as reported by UN Watch.
At least nine hours passed between the time when the cabinet of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was informed of the request of a vote at the United Nations Commission for Women’s Rights and the time when it was answered, as confirmed Friday by the Ecologists’ party, based on internal emails.
According to the Green Party, the Belgian delegation to the United Nations in New York informed the cabinet of Didier Reynders on April 9 at 12:33 a.m. of the request for a vote from the United Nations about the entry of Saudi Arabia into the commission. The response was sent at 3:34 p.m. Uncertainty remains about the way the time delay should be considered, but at the very least, nine hours had passed.
According to these documents, the cabinet’s reply, written in the first person, mentions the following elements. The “clean slate” procedures should be followed and Belgium should, therefore, provide its support to the candidates for the various positions during the secret vote. Furthermore, the delegation was requested to inform the various candidates, including Saudi Arabia, of this support if possible.
According to the minutes from a meeting that took place at the foreign office yesterday (see the tweet from Kristof Calvo below), the administration complained about the communication about this affair and implied that Reynders was indeed aware of it. “Some press information insinuates that our Permanent Mission in New York may have acted on its own
“Some press information insinuates that our Permanent Mission in New York may have acted on its own initiative and that the Ministry may not have been aware of it. This gives a false image of the foreign office as a completely uncontrolled organization.”
Questioned Friday after the council of ministers, before this information came to light, Mr. Reynders indicates that three hours had passed and that it was not personally aware of this request for a vote.
“My cabinet and the delegation on site followed the usual procedure. I was not aware of it,” he said.
“What we fear since the revelation of this affair has turned out to be true. The cabinet of Didier Reynders gave the green light to a shameless vote, scorning women’s rights, with the aim of getting in the good books of a notoriously no-go country in order to facilitate the election of Belgium to the UN Security Council. Who is responsible for this decision? The Minister of Foreign Affairs himself,” accused Deputy Benoît Hellings.
Questioned Wednesday at the Chamber Committee, the minister indicated that he was not aware of the American request for a vote, “but saw that it was possible for our department to vote” before indicating the next day that he was not “personally aware of the voting procedure underway” but that “the departments and partners of Foreign Affairs applied the procedure in a very professional manner.” At the plenary session, Prime Minister Charles Michel spoke of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not the minister’s cabinet.
“Our diplomats applied formal orders and must not be used as a fuse to cover their minister,” said Deputy Jean-Marc Nollet, who asked the Prime Minister to clarify his position. “Either Didier Reynders misled him, or Charles Michel was hiding something from the deputies.”
Belgium’s support for Saudi Arabi is in contradiction with the reports of security and intelligence centers of the country. On February Belgium voiced concerns over the spread of Saudi-backed Wahhabism throughout the country and the rest of Europe. According to a report by De Standaard, the country’s OCAM national crisis center stressed that Wahhabism is being preached in an increasing number of the country’s mosques receiving financial support from Saudi Arabia.
“The Saudi authorities and the Wahhabist establishment have clearly settled on this method to reinforce the influence of the doctrine and practice of Wahhabism in Muslim communities in Europe,” it stressed.
According to officials, Belgium has the highest amount of extremists leaving the country and joining terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq in proportion to is population.
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