SARAJEVO (neweurope.eu) — Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo has dropped an earlier decision to make famed Turkish writer and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk an “honorary citizen” after coming under heavy pressure from the government of authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Pamuk, 65, who is a vocal critic of Erdogan, was nominated by Sarajevo for his writing screenplay dealing with the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.
Sarajevo’s leading newspaper Oslobodenje reported on February 14 that city council members from the ruling Our Party political faction in the Bosnian capital had concluded that the decision to honor Pamuk’s would be withdrawn after coming under pressure from Ankara.
The City Council Commission had initially voted 7:0 in support of a proposal by Sarajevan publisher Buybook and NGO Amadeus to proclaim Pamuk an honorary citizen, which was to be presented to him in April in Sarajevo.
Sarajevo is governed by the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), whose leader Bakir Izetbegovic, is known to be close to Erdogan, having even attended the wedding of his daughter in 2016.
Authorities in Sarajevo have announced that former Croatian President Stipe Mesic will be named honorary citizen in Pamuk’s place.
Much beloved abroad as one of the world’s leading literary figures, Pamuk is a highly controversial figure in Turkey. He was tried and sentenced to prison by the Erdogan regime of “insulting Turkishness” after publicly discussing the mass killing of Kurds by Turkish forces and the 1915 Armenian Genocide – and event that saw nearly 2 million Armenians killed or deported by the Turks in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire.
Any mention of the genocide or atrocities against its Kurdish population are illegal in Turkey and is subject to stiff prison sentences.
Pamuk, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2006, has denounced what he called “a climate of “fear” under Erdogan and has warned that the authoritarian leader and his Islamist AK party are steering Turkey towards a “regime of terror”.