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The 2021 timetable of the Sakharov Prize - what comes next?

Sakharov Prize Laureates
Sakharov Prize Laureates © European Union 2020 - EP
As part of its commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights, the European Parliament will award the Sakharov Prize of 2021 on Wednesday, the 15th of December. However, preceding the ceremony, there are a number of steps taken in selecting each year’s Laureate.

The first step is for the Members of the European Parliament to nominate the candidates until the 16th of September. Each nominee must have the support of at least 40 members, or of one political group. The nominations are then presented in a joint meeting to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development and the Subcommittee on Human Rights that takes place on the 27th of September.

On the 14th of October, a shortlist of three candidates is established in a meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Development. The Conference of Presidents, consisting of chairs of all Parliament's political groups, then decides on the Sakharov Prize Laureate during a meeting on the 21st of October. The award ceremony, attended by both the winner and the finalists, takes place in Strasbourg on the 15th of December.

Sakharov Prize awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus (Brussels, 16-12-2020)

the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by several laureates including opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by several laureates including opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya © European Union 2020 - EP
At the end of an exceptional year, the Sakharov Prize was exceptionally awarded in Brussels, to 6 members of the democratic opposition in Belarus (Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, also representing her husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Volha Kavalkova, Veranika Tsapkala, Ales Bialiatski, Siarhei Dyleuski and Stsiapan Putsila), and 2 representatives of laureates (Maria Adamovic, wife of Mikola Statkevich, and Tatiana Khomich, sister of Maryia Kalesnikava). Svetlana Alexievich followed the ceremony remotely.

Unfortunately, three of the 10 laureates representing the democratic opposition in Belarus, were not able to accept the prize in person due to being imprisoned in Belarus: Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Mikola Statkevich and Maryia Kalesnikava. Both the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli and the leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called for their release during their respective speeches at the award ceremony held this year in Brussels instead of Strasbourg, due to the covid19.

The European Parliament organised a rich program for the laureates in cooperation with the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU. Representatives of the opposition were able to meet with all the political groups in the EP, MEPs from foreign affairs, development and human rights committees, EU commissioners, as well as representatives of Belarussian diaspora, and took part in meetings with the media, youth and social media audience on Facebook live.

The European Parliament reiterated that it will continue to support the demands of the democratic opposition in Belarus for fair and transparent elections and join forces with the EU countries and institutions in putting pressure on the Belarussian authorities.

President Sassoli also greeted the other finalists who joined the ceremony remotely, the Guapinol activists and representatives of Berta Caceres from Honduras, and Najeeb Michael, Archbishop of Mosul in Iraq.

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