Handke takes Nobel Literature Prize amid protest over Serb war crimes

By David Keyton and Jim Heintz, Associated Press

Author Peter Handke has received his Nobel Literature Prize amid criticism of him in Sweden and abroad as an apologist for Serb war crimes in the 1990s.

Handke accepted the 9 million kronor (£718,000) award from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm with the winners of other Nobels except for the peace prize, which was presented in Oslo.

Peter Handke receives the Nobel Literature Prize from King Carl Gustaf (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/AP)

He has been a staunch supporter of the Serbs and has denied that the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica was genocide.

Representatives of seven countries boycotted the awards ceremony in protest, as did a member of the Swedish Academy that chooses the literature prize winner.

A member of the committee that nominates candidates for the prize resigned his post.

Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Croatia, North Macedonia, Turkey and Afghanistan boycotted the awards ceremony and some of those country’s leaders denounced the prize.

“To give the Nobel Literature Prize to a racist personality can have no other meaning than to reward human rights violations,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Daniel Leal-Olivas/ AP)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said: “Justice will prevail, not lies, denial and fake Nobel prizes.”

In the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, a war victims’ association erected a large electronic display portraying Handke as a villain standing next to skulls.

“As a citizen of Sarajevo I am horrified with this. He is genocide denier. He claims genocide did not happen in Bosnia. We will never forget this,” said Sarajevo resident Senka Tinjak.

Protesters plan to demonstrate later in a Stockholm square.

Many journalists who covered the Bosnian war took to Twitter to denounce Handke receiving the award.

One of them, Peter Maas, told the Associated Press in Stockholm: “The ideas that Peter Handke has are extremist ideas, they are held by a discarded minority of people.

“The Swedish Academy, the Nobel Prize Foundation, and today the royal family of Sweden – they are the ones now throwing their weight behind these extremist ideas.”