ZAGREB, April 18, 2019 – Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić on Thursday accepted the title of honorary citizen of Sarajevo after he refused the title last year when the city government withdrew its decision to declare renowned Turkish novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk also an honorary citizen.
“There was a misunderstanding with Orhan Pamuk, one of the greatest living writers today. But I established contact with Mr Pamuk and he wrote to me congratulating me,” Mesić said, explaining why he accepted the title one year on.
Mesić was presented with the award by Sarajevo Mayor Abdulah Skaka.
The former Croatian president said that he was pleased to once again be in Sarajevo where he was attending the Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) organised by the Bosna Bank International (BBI) in cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
Last year, the Sarajevo City Council Commission on Elections and Appointments initially supported a proposal by the Sarajevo book publisher Buybook and the non-governmental organisation Amadeus to name Pamuk an honorary citizen of Sarajevo. However, a few days later that decision was withdrawn and it was decided to award the title to Mesić.
The city authorities predominantly dominated by the Party of Democratic Actions (SDA) are believed to be behind the withdrawal of the title for Pamuk as they reportedly did not want to cause tension with the Turkish authorities. Pamuk is known for criticising the government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
After the scandal erupted, Mesić sent a letter to the Sarajevo city authorities declining to accept the award and explaining that under the circumstances, he could not accept the award. “When I heard how the decision was made and that the title was withdrawn from Orhan Pamuk to be conferred on me, I thought that it was wrong and I refused the title,” Mesić said then.
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