BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia on Sunday honored 2019 Nobel Literature Prize winner Peter Handke, who is known for his apologist views over Serbia’s nationalist policies and Serb war crimes during the 1990s wars in the Balkans.
The Austrian novelist and screenwriter received a state decoration from Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic, a former ultranationalist who now says he wants his country to join the European Union. On Friday, Handke also received honors from Bosnian Serbs.
“Thank you for everything you have done for Serbia,” Vucic said. “Serbia is showing gratitude to its friend with this (decoration).”
The RTS television said Handke was awarded for “special contribution in representing Serbia and its citizens in the area of public and cultural activities and for personal persistence in uncompromising responsibility toward the truth.”
Handke is adored by Serbs for support during the wars of the 1990s’ and the era of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic when Serbs were widely blamed for fomenting the conflict that killed more than 100,000 people. Handke is considered persona non grata in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and in Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.
Handke also has disputed that the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in the town of Srebrenica was genocide. That runs counter to several rulings by international courts, which have proclaimed the carnage in the eastern Bosnian enclave a genocide.
The writer said in Belgrade that he was didn’t expect to receive Serbia’s state awards, the official RTS television reported.
“I was not prepared,” he said.