Wednesday

20th Sep 2017

Ashton declines MEP's appeal on Nobel gala

  • The prize ceremony in Oslo City Hall in 2007 (Photo: EUobserver)

EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton has brushed aside calls by a leading MEP for her to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on Friday (10 December) in defiance of Chinese diplomacy.

"Neither the High Representative/Vice President nor both presidents have been specifically invited. The EU will be represented in the normal way by the EU head of delegation who will be accompanied by all 27 EU ambassadors [to Norway]. This was agreed by all the member states and this is the normal position," Ms Ashton's spokesman Darren Ennis told EUobserver on Wednesday, referring also to EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The statement comes in response to a call by the co-leader of the Green group in the EU parliament, French MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, for Ms Ashton to show support to the winner, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

"If Ms Ashton says she wants to participate in the Nobel prize ceremony, the government in Oslo will not deny her entry to the country nor will the Nobel Prize Committee leave her standing out in the cold. It's a question of her will to go and to make a gesture that Europe stands for human rights and freedom of expression," he said in a riposte to the Ashton line.

The Norwegian Nobel Institute on Tuesday noted that 44 embassies have so far said they will send delegates to the gala, 19 embassies have declined invitations and two have not yet replied.

The 19 refuseniks are: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi-Arabia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq , Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco. Algeria and Sri Lanka are yet to confirm.

The European Commission on Wednesday said that it is "very disappointed" that Serbia, an EU applicant country, has chosen to align itself with countries such as Cuba and Iran against the joint EU line.

"We expect that a country which has the aspiration of joining the EU to fully share the values of the EU, and protection of human rights is one of the fundamental values of the EU, so we would expect Serbia to co-ordinate its position with that of our member states," commission spokeswoman Angela Filote said.

She added that enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele will meet with the Serbian prime minister on Thursday and that the issue is likely to come up. "We are going to speak with our counterparts to see if there is a possibility of a different decision," she said.

Ukraine, another pro-China country on the Nobel issue, is also an EU aspirant nation according to the statements of its President Viktor Yanukovych. It does not have EU candidate status, however.

China back in November sent letters to all the EU delegations in Oslo urging them to boycott the ceremony. High officials have in recent weeks also warned there would be "consequences' for countries that refuse to toe the line and called the Nobel committee "clowns."

China is the EU's largest trade partner after the US, with bilateral trade worth €82 billion a year. The EU, in the so-called E3+3 diplomatic group on Iran, is also seeking Chinese backing for potentially extending economic sanctions against Teheran if it does not back down on its alleged nuclear weapons programme.

Ms Ashton and envoys from the E3+3 group in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday held "detailed substantive" talks with Iran on the nuclear issue and agreed to meet again in Istanbul in January.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

Opinion

Ukraine: NGOs need EU help

EU governments should stop Ukraine from hampering the work of NGOs in revenge against their anti-corruption work.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary set for fresh campaign against public enemy Soros
  2. Iceland's PM leads in polls ahead of October elections
  3. Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds cancel referendum
  4. Ireland to hold referendum on ownership of water
  5. Report: May to offer €20bn as Brexit bill in Florence speech
  6. Merkel poised to win election despite CDU dip in polls
  7. EU unveils cyber security ideas
  8. EU must do more to cut emissions, auditors say

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  2. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  3. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  6. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  7. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  8. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  9. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  10. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  11. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted
  12. European Federation of Local Energy CompaniesClean Energy for All? On 10.10 Top-Level Speakers Present the Clean Energy Package