The Swedish Academy defended its decision, Thursday, to award the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature to Austrian writer Peter Handke, saying he did make provocative comments regarding the Srebrenica genocide but that he never supported it, Reuters reported.
Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter published an article, on Thursday, in which Mats Malm, the head of the Swedish Academy, recognised that Handke made “provocative, unsuitable and unclear comments in political questions,” but added that the author never glorified the bloodshed and had clearly condemned the Srebrenica genocide.
“The Academy ... has not found anything in his writing that constitutes an attack on civil society or on the respect for the equality of all people,” Malm wrote.
They also quoted a 2006 article from the German Suddeutsche Zeitung in which Handke said the Srebrenica massacre was the worst crime against humanity in Europe since World War Two.
Handke’s prize was highly criticised by many political leaders, intellectuals, dignitaries and survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, calling on the academy to revoke the award it announced last week.
In 2006, Handke spoke at the funeral of late Serbian nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic, who died while in detention awaiting trial at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague for his role in the wars in Balkans in the 1990s.
Handke also voiced his support for Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, who were convicted of genocide for the killing of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the United Nations protected enclave of Srebrenica.
The Academy's decision to award Handke was rejected by Bosnia's Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, the Mothers of Srebrenica Association, Croatian Foreign Ministry, and the Croatian P.E.N. Centre, among others.