BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia's decision to boycott the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo triggered criticism Wednesday from human rights activists and the European Union — which expressed shock that the candidate for entry would abide by China's wishes.
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said Serbia "pays extreme attention to the violations of human rights," but that its bilateral relations with China have a priority.
China has vilified the 54-year-old democracy advocate, called the Nobel prize choice an effort by the West to contain its rise, disparaged his supporters as "clowns," and launched a campaign to persuade countries not to attend Friday's ceremony in Oslo. Eighteen countries, including Serbia, Russia and Pakistan, have turned down the Nobel committee's invitation.
Serbia fears its attendance could anger China, which has supported Belgrade in opposing the 2008 independence declaration of its former province of Kosovo.