Belgium’s government decided yesterday to expel a Russian diplomat in solidarity over the nerve agent attack on British soil. Belgium becomes the 19th and latest European Union country to do so.
“Given the gravity of the Salisbury events and the high probability of Russia’s involvement in this attack, we consider this measure fully justified,” said Prime Minister Charles Michel. “The Russian Ambassador will be notified within 48 hours and the person concerned will have 14 days to leave the territory.”
At the same time, Belgium continues to advocate for the maintenance of a “frank and open dialogue” with Moscow on matters of common interest. “Russia will always be a big neighbor to the European Union,” Charles Michel told the European Parliament’s advisory committee on European issues.
Nous avons affirmé la solidarité avec UK. Nous avons aussi affirmé la nécessité de prendre des mesures de réactions proportionnelles à la gravité des faits constatés. Mais dans le même temps, nous avons intérêt à maintenir un canal de dialogue avec la Russie. #EuCo #Salisbury pic.twitter.com/gAwCXa0VDP
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) March 23, 2018
“If that is the decision of the Belgian government, then we can only regret it. Of course, Russia will react to this move,” said Ambassador Tokovinin to the RTBF. The Ambassador stressed that Moscow would be guided by the principle of reciprocity in its reaction and might expel diplomats in return.