Former Croatian President Refuses Sarajevo Citizenship Offer

Stjepan Mesic. Photo: EPA/Valdrin Xhemaj

Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic has turned down an offer to be made an Honorary Citizen of Sarajevo - after the Bosnian capital rescinded an earlier decision to award the Turkish Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk.

"First of all, I should have been informed that I was nominated for the Honorary Citizen award, because I didn't even know it. I have not officially got any information that I was chosen," he said.

"And then... when I heard that the procedure was completely different, that Orhan Pamuk once got all the votes of the [awards] commission, and then suddenly there is me being announced as an honorary citizen ... this all together did not fit with me," Mesic told Al Jazeera Balkans.

The Bosnian publisher and bookshop Buybook nominated Pamuk for the citizenship award, noting that Pamuk was planning to visit the Bosnian capital this spring while working on a screenplay about Bosnia during the 1992-5 war.

Buybook director Damir Uzunovic told the UK Guardian on February 20 that the city council's awards commission initially unanimously supported a proposal to make the Turkish writer an honorary citizen.

However, a second vote held on February 14 saw Pamuk's nomination rejected by four votes to three.

"The council commission explanation was that Pamuk did nothing or almost nothing for the city of Sarajevo. Some members of the ruling party estimated also that awarding Pamuk might anger Turkey's current government," Uzunovic told the Guardian.

Bosnia's main Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] party, the Party for Democratic Action, SDA, is close to the Turkish government, and to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Samir Fazlic, from the opposition Nasa Stranka party, told AFP on February 16 that the outcome of the second vote was...

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