The decision by the Swedish Academy to award writer Peter Handke, who has denied the genocide in Bosnia, with the Nobel Prize for literature is a shocking move which should worry everyone in the political sphere, Albania’s PM, Edi Rama, wrote in an article published by the ATA news agency.
Rama wrote that Handke was a supporter of nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic and an apologist for the Serbian strongman’s “genocidal campaigns” in the war in Yugoslavia during the 1990s.
Despite clear evidence of the atrocities that took place, Hanke attended Milosevic’s trial at the war crimes court in the Hague, as well as his funeral, Rama wrote.
The Albanian PM argued that anyone who justifies the decision by the Swedish Academy to award the Austrian writer by saying that his literary work should be separated from his political opinions is making a “grave mistake.”
“Considering his approval of Milosevic’s regime and his occasional denial od genocide, ethnic cleansing and torture, Hanke’s work is deeply political,” Rama wrote, arguing that this can be seen best in the writer’s extended essay ‘A journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia’, published in 1997.
While the book describes the daily lives of common Serbs and consequences they suffered after the wars, Handke overlooked the tragedies of other ethnic groups in the region and intensified with that the narrative of Serbs as people who suffered an injustice, Rama argued, adding that this was the same narrative which Milosevic promoted.
Rama stressed that Handke also did not mention the central role Serbia played in the tragedy in the Balkans during the 1990s, including the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
“He presents the atrocities committed by Milosevic’s regime as false statements the West had made up, and not as facts which the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia documented,” he wrote.
Rama also accused Handke of trying to revise history and portraying Slovenia and Croatia as those who initiated the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
“There is no doubt that Handke’s work should be read, studied and talked about. But raising his work above the work of other Nobel Prize candidates, who deserved it more, represents a careless mistake,” the PM wrote.
“The Nobel Prize will not turn Handke into a brilliant writer. In choosing the Austrian writer, the Swedish Academy managed to decrease the value of the award and turn it into another scandal which will be detrimental to its reputation for generations to come,” Rama concluded.