Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday joined Albania, Kosovo, and Turkey in boycotting the Tuesday's Nobel Prize ceremony in protest over the Academy's 2019 literature laureate Peter Handke, who they claim is an apologist of the politics of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
Croatian Foreign Ministry announced on Twitter on Monday that the Croatia’s Ambassador to Sweden, Sinisa Grgic, would not attend the ceremony because Handke "was politically engaged in giving support to Slobodan Milosevic's Great Serbia policy in the 1990s."
All ambassadors accredited in Sweden have been invited to the award-giving ceremony.
The decision of the Swedish Academy to award the Nobel Prize for Literature to Handke was met with harsh backlash in the region, with the critics claiming the Austrian writer was a supporter of Slobodan Milosevic, the late Serbian nationalist leader who died in 2006 in detention, while awaiting trial at the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague for his role in the 1990s wars in the Balkans. Handke spoke at Milosevic’s funeral.
Additionally, a feature published by 'The Guardian' in 1999 carried Handke's words saying that Muslims had staged their own massacres in Sarajevo and that he did not believe the Serb troops killed thousands of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995.
The Swedish Academy's decision was also condemned by associations of writers PEN Croatia, PEN International, and PEN America.
PEN Croatia said the decision to award the 2019 Literature Nobel to Handke went against the original idea of the Nobel prize, while PEN International described Handke as an author who had called into question well-documented war crimes.
PEN America said that he had publicly supported perpetrators of genocide - former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
"At a moment of rising nationalism, autocratic leadership, and widespread disinformation around the world, the literary community deserves better than this," PEN America said.
The Academy however rejected the criticism, with the Academy’s head Mats Malm saying that, while it is true that Handke had made provocative statements on political issues, the author had never glorified bloodshed.
“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.
Handke refused to answer questions about his views of Milosevic at a news conference held in Stockholm last Friday.
Representatives of associations that bring together Bosniak victims of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina have travelled to Stockholm to protest the decision to award the Nobel Prize to Handke. Representatives of some Bosnian Serb associations, however, have travelled there to hold counter-rallies in support of the Austrian writer.