Turkey joins Nobel ceremony boycott in protest against Handke

Turkey joins Nobel ceremony boycott in protest against Handke

Turkey joins Nobel ceremony boycott in protest against Handke

Turkey's president on Dec. 10 condemned the awarding of the 2019 Nobel Literature Prize to writer Peter Handke, as the writer is a denier of the 1992-1995 Bosnian genocide.

“Awarding Nobel Literature Prize to a racist individual will not mean anything other than awarding human rights violations," Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a message marking Human Rights Day.  

Meanwhile, Hakkı Emre Yunt, Turkey’s ambassador to Sweden, on Dec. 9 told state-run Anadolu Agency that he would not attend the awards ceremony on Dec. 10,  joining Kosovo and Albania in the action.

Turkish presidential spokesperson on Dec. 7 also on the Swedish Academy to revert its decision to award Handke, dubbing it as a “shameless decision.” İbrahim Kalın also warned that the decision would encourage new genocides.

"Consistent with our initial reaction, we have also instructed the Ambassador of Albania to Sweden to boycott the Nobel Prize ceremony for (Peter) Handke," Acting Albanian Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj said in a tweet.

"Justification of war atrocities during the Yugoslavia break-up must not be rewarded. This will solely strengthen the state of denial that must be overcome and strongly condemned," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Albanian Foreign Ministry confirmed it was the country's official position.

Kosovo's Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli also announced on social media that he would boycott the prize ceremony.

Croatia joined the award ceremony boycott in protest against the award being given to Handke, the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry said on Twitter.

Resignation in Nobel committee

Last week, Gun-Britt Sundstrom, now a former Nobel Literature Prize committee member, announced her resignation over the controversial decision to award Handke.

Sundstrom said in a statement published in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter that the committee interpreted their choice of Handke as if literature stood above politics and that she did not share that “ideology”.

The former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy and current member, Peter Englund, also announced last week that he would boycott this year's ceremonies over the election of Handke as 2019 literature laureate.

Also speaking to Dagens Nyheter, Englund said: “to celebrate Peter Handke's Nobel prize would be gross hypocrisy on my part.”

Englund's announcement came a day before Handke gave laureate's lecture on Dec. 7 and the ceremony on Dec. 10 when he will also receive 9 million Swedish kronor ($944,000) as well as a medal and diploma.

During Dec. 7's  speech, Handke reiterated his denial of the genocide and answered a journalist's question on the issue by saying: “I prefer toilet paper, an anonymous letter with toilet paper inside, to your empty and ignorant questions.”

In an interview with Sweden's state television SVT, Handke also refused to use the term genocide for what happened in Srebrenica and called it a “brother murder”.

Handke is known as a great admirer of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 at the international tribunal in The Hague on trial for war crimes and genocide.

"Stand up if you support the Serbs," he said in an article he published during the war in Kosovo.

He claimed that the Muslim Bosniaks in Sarajevo killed themselves and put the blame on the Serbs, and added that he never believed the Serbs committed genocide in Srebrenica.

Also, Handke visited former Serbian leader Milosevic in prison and made attempts to testify in his favor.

"I am here for Yugoslavia, for Serbia, for Slobodan Milosevic," Handke said, attending Milosevic's funeral in 2006.