The Nobel Foundation reversed course on Saturday and said it would not invite the ambassadors of Russia and Belarus to this year’s award ceremony in Stockholm, after a decision to invite them back to the annual event drew objections in Sweden and Ukraine.
The private foundation had said it sought to invite everyone this year, even “those who do not share the values of the Nobel Prize,” in an effort to promote dialogue and counter a tendency of growing global polarization.
But a number of Swedish officials said as a result that they would boycott the event, which takes place on Dec. 10, the anniversary of scientist Alfred Nobel’s death.
“I was looking forward to participating,” Muharrem Demirok, the leader of Sweden’s Center Party, said Friday. “But as long as Russia is waging its war against Ukraine, I cannot attend the same celebration as their ambassador.”
A Swedish member of the European Parliament, Karin Karlsbro, called the invites “extremely inappropriate.” The move was also criticized by Kyiv, which said this would reinforce the Kremlin’s “feeling of impunity.”
The Nobel Foundation said Saturday that its decision to return to the practice of inviting all ambassadors, after last year’s exception, had “provoked strong reactions.”
“The basis for the decision is that we believe that it is important and right to reach out as widely as possible with the values and messages that the Nobel Prize stands for,” it said.
“We recognize the strong reactions in Sweden, which completely overshadowed this message,” the statement added.
Saturday’s announcement said Iran, which was also not invited last year, would not receive an invitation this year either.
The Nobel Foundation said all ambassadors would still be invited to the Oslo ceremony this year as they had been before.
Five of the six Nobel Prizes are awarded in ceremonies in Stockholm each year, while the Nobel Peace Prize is handed out in Oslo.
Marta Stenevi, a leader of Sweden’s Green Party, who had declared she would boycott the Stockholm ceremony over the invitations to Moscow and Minsk’s representatives, thanked the Nobel Foundation on Saturday for “reconsidering this decision.”