ZAGREB, April 3, 2018 – Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesić has declined to accept the title of honorary citizen of Sarajevo and will not visit the Bosnian capital on April 6 when the city authorities still plan to confer the honour on him despite his refusal, the Dnevni Avaz newspaper said on its website on Tuesday.
Mesić’s office has confirmed that the former president will be visiting Macedonia and the southern Serbian region of Sandžak later this week and will certainly not be in Sarajevo on April 6, when the city commemorates its liberation from occupation at the end of the Second World War in 1945.
Mesić was nominated for the award after the Sarajevo City Council Commission on Elections and Appointments reviewed its initial unanimous decision to confer the honour on world-renowned Turkish novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, which caused a scandal. The commission said they had changed their decision because Pamuk had not done enough for Sarajevo.
The Buybook publishing house, which nominated Pamuk, said that the commission had changed their mind because the city authorities, controlled by the predominantly Muslim SDA party, were trying to curry favour with the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is openly criticised by Pamuk.
Mesić’s office said that Mesić had written to Pamuk to find out what the novelist thought of this whole situation, but has not received a reply yet.
The chairman of the Sarajevo City Council Commission on Elections and Appointments Velija Katica said he had no doubt that Mesić would come to the award presenting ceremony. “He is a serious person. He has been notified that he will be presented with the honour. If he had had anything against it, he would have said it then,” Katica said.
City Council chairman Igor Gavrić said he had heard that Mesić was waiting for a reply from Pamuk before he decided what to do. “Even if he does not come, the award is his and it can be presented to him on November 25 (Statehood Day) or April 6 next year,” Gavrić said.