Croatia Joins Literature Nobel Prize Boycott in Protest over Handke

By 9 December 2019

Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided on Monday that the Croatian Ambassador in Sweden will not participate at the Literature Nobel Prize ceremony in protest against 2019 laureate Peter Handke, who is best-known in Croatia for backing late Serbian President Slobodan Milošević and his genocidal policies.

Croatia thus joined a group of countries who have decided to boycott the event. The group, at the moment this article is being written, consists of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Northern Macedonia, and Turkey.

In 2019, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Peter Handke, explained by the Academy that it was awarded “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience”. The Swedish Academy’s choice of the Austrian writer for the award this year has been widely criticized, not because of his writing, but because of his support for Slobodan Milošević, former Serbian president who was instrumental in many wars in former Yugoslavia in the '90s. Handke has often spoken out in defense of Milošević, including stringent denials of concentration camps and war crimes in Bosnia, including Srebrenica. He was at Milošević's funeral in Belgrade as well, where he spoke kindly of the late tyrant - in Serbian! A defiant Handke refused to answer any questions regarding his support for Milošević during a news conference held on Friday in Stockholm.

Handke will be formally handed the 9 million crown ($935,000) award on Tuesday, before attending the traditional Nobel banquet later the same day. He will not be the only winner of the Literature Nobel Prize, as this year Poland's Olga Tokarczuk will also receive the award given to her for 2018 (which is also not without its own, completely different controversies). All ambassadors to Sweden are invited to the ceremony and the banquet.