Handke divides Bosnia and Herzegovina

Handke divides Bosnia and Herzegovina

The decision of the Nobel Prize Committee to award Austrian writer Peter Handke with a 2019 prize for literature triggered a lot of sparks in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In fact, as usual, the decision in different entities (Republika Srpska and Federation BiH) was accepted in quite the opposite manner. Republika Srpska welcomed the decision, but the authorities and NGOs from Federation BiH think that the decision is, at least, disgusting.

In BiH, Handke is more famous for the statements and defence of Serbs during wars in former Yugoslavia at the end of the last century, than for his novels. Often provocative, Handke showed support for the Serbs in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 war and on several occasions said that there was no genocide in Srebrenica. That is why Serbs love, but Bosniaks hate Handke.

Serb member of the BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik, congratulated Handke on the award saying that it came in the right hands.

„Thank you once again for the understanding you have shown in representing the true Serbian interests and thank you for your wonderful literature. The Nobel Prize you have received is proof that justice is not completely lost,“ said Dodik.

But, the other two members of the same institution have a different opinion.

Bosniak member, Šefik Džaferović, said that the “Nobel Prize Committee has completely lost the moral compass”.

“I consider it a scandalous and shameful decision of the Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to award the Nobel Prize to the writer Peter Handke, who justified war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-1995 and stood for the protection of their perpetrators”, Džaferović said.

He considers that it is a shame that the Nobel Committee has justified the fact that Handke stood for the protection of Slobodan Milošević and his executors Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić who were convicted of grave war crimes before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, including genocide.

“Years after the end of the war, Handke did not show the slightest sign of repentance or apologize to victims of genocide, rape, camps and other atrocity crimes, but to this day denies the truth about the Srebrenica genocide and claims that the people of Sarajevo staged massacres during the siege.

Awarding the Nobel Prize to such a person is an act of directly legitimizing his timeless intellectual and political engagement, which is not worthy of any institution that promotes civilizational values, not even the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,” Džaferović pointed out.

Croat member, Željko Komšić, who was elected based on the Bosniak votes on last elections, also condemned the decision but added that “we will send a letter of protest to the Nobel Prize Committee next week”.

“Can you imagine that after WWII somebody who denied the holocaust receiving the Nobel prize? This is totally inappropriate and contradicts all moral standards,” stated Komšić, who during the war served the mainly Bosniak Army of the Republic of the Bosnia and Herzegovina and received the biggest war medal “Golden Lily”.

The decision was condemned by many other Bosniak organizations, those who gather the families of the genocide victims, political parties and, interestingly enough, by the BiH Islamic Community./ibna