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Source: NY Times

Sep 1, 2023

Nobel Foundation Invites Russia, Belarus and Iran to 2023 Prize Ceremony

The executive director of the Nobel Foundation said it was reversing course from a year ago in an effort lower tensions at a time of growing geopolitical divisions.

By Valeriya Safronova

Reversing course from last year, the Nobel Foundation has extended an invitation to the Nobel Prize ceremonies in December to representatives from Russia and Belarus, who were not invited in 2022 because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Iran, whose representatives were barred from last year’s ceremony because of what the foundation described as the “serious and escalating situation” there, has also been invited, along with the head of the Sweden Democrats, a far-right party with roots in neo-Nazism that is part of the government coalition, the foundation announced.

In a statement on Thursday, Vidar Helgesen, the executive director of the foundation, which administers the annual prizes, said the decision was intended to lower barriers between states and groups at a time of growing geopolitical division.“

It is clear that the world is increasingly divided into spheres, where dialogue between those with differing views is being reduced,” Mr. Helgesen said in a statement. The Nobel Prizes, he added, “represent the opposite of polarization, populism and nationalism.”

Not everyone was pleased at the decision. Karin Karlsbro, a Swedish member of the European Parliament, called the reversal “extremely inappropriate.”

“The decision undermines European unity against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Ms. Karlsbro said in an interview on Swedish radio.

The Nobel Prizes are given each year in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Last year, although Russian and Belarusian diplomats were not invited to the ceremony, the Peace Prize was awarded to Memorial, a Russian human rights organization, and Ales Bialiatski, a Belarusian activist, along with the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine.

At the ceremony, Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects the Peace Prize recipients, said the choices last year were meant to signal that the war in Ukraine must end. “Sometimes an effort for peace lies with civil society and not with state ambitions alone,” she said.

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