News ID: 262686
Published: 0339 GMT December 08, 2019

Kosovo to boycott Nobel awards over controversial laureate

Kosovo to boycott Nobel awards over controversial laureate

The Kosovar government said it would boycott upcoming Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden in protest against Peter Handke, an Austrian laureate whose support for Serbs in the 90s war in former Yugoslavia sparked controversy.

Now the Kosovar envoy is set to boycott the awards ceremony in Stockholm.

With the Nobel Prize for literature due to be handed to controversial author Peter Handke, Kosovan Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli said that his country will not take part in the award ceremony. Handke is due to receive his award in the Swedish capital on Tuesday.

"I can confirm that our ambassador … will boycott this event," Pacolli said on Facebook on Saturday, Deutsche Welle reported.

The reason, according to the foreign minister, is that Handke is a "friend and supporter" of policies carried out by former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. The nationalist politician led Serbia and controlled its army during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, including the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. The war saw Kosovo, mostly populated by Albanians, break away from Serbia.

"I expect the Albanian ambassador to act in a similar way," Pacolli added.

Milosevic died in 2006 while on trial for war crimes.

Handke has repeatedly expressed support for Serbia during the wars and gave a eulogy at Milosevic's funeral. He once described the Srebrenica genocide, in which Serbian forces commanded by Bosnian Serb Ratko Mladic killed about 8,000 Bosnian men and boys, as a "massacre of Muslim soldiers," but later revised this position and described it as "the worst crime against humanity" in post WWII Europe.

The decision to award Handke this year's literature prize caused uproar across Europe and prompted two members of the Nobel committee to resign earlier this week. A member of the Swedish academy, historian and writer Peter Englund, also announced he would be boycotting the ceremony.

After he was declared winner last month, Handke publicly denied being a Milosevic sympathizer. He also repeatedly grew verbally aggressive when asked about his more controversial opinions on the Yugoslav war.

The 77-year-old Handke also dropped an interview and told a different reporter to leave his house last month after he was asked about taking a Yugoslav passport in 1999.



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