The decision to award the Austrian playwright Peter Handke the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature has sparked outrage after he previously denied the Srebrenica genocide.
In 1995, during the Bosnian war, the Serbian army entered the town of Srebrenica and killed over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims over five days, the biggest war crime in Europe since World War II.
Albania’s Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj said on Twitter it was shameful that the award had been given to a “genocide denier”. Albanian Prime Minister wrote: “Never thought would feel to vomit because of a Nobel Prize.”
Handke, who in 2006 attended and spoke at former President of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic’s funeral, will receive nine million Swedish kroner ($917,000).
Milosevic was indicted in 1999 for war crimes he committed during the Kosovo war including the genocide of thousands of ethnic Albanians.
Kosovo’s ambassador to the United States has called it a “preposterous and shameful decision” and Kosovan President Hashim Thaci said that “the decision of the Nobel Prize brought immense pain to countless victims.”
Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek has called him an apologist for war crimes.
However, not everyone is opposed to his win. Serbian media called him a “great friend” and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said “we have a lot to thank Peter Handle for. I hope he knows that.”
The Swedish Academy that awards the prize is still reeling from a scandal after former winner and husband of an academy member Jean-Claude Arnault was jailed for rape.
The Nobel Foundation threatened to strip the academy of its right to give the prize after Arnault was accused of rape and sexual assault by 18 women and given a two-year jail sentence.
The academy has also been accused of focusing on European and male writers.
In 2014 Handke himself called for the prize to be abolished on the grounds that it brought the winner “false canonisation”.