Peter Handke becomes honorary citizen of Belgrade
Austrian writer and humanitarian Peter Handke was presented with the Charter of Honorary Citizen Of Belgrade by Mayor Sinisa Mali on Thursday.Source: B92, Tanjug
Mali said during the ceremony the charter was "a stamp on the friendship of a city and a man, a writer and humanitarian who has a special commitment to Belgrade," Tanjug reported.
The ceremony was held as Belgrade celebrated its patron saint day, the Orthodox Christian holiday of Ascension, which the mayor said has for centuries been a symbol of the city's rebuilding and development.
Mali said that the Austrian author "with his diligent work promotes Belgrade and Serbia in the world."
"There is no writer to whom we owe more than to Peter Handke. You chose the harder road - the road of struggle and truth and for that Serbia and Belgrade appreciate you," Mali said, and reminded of Handke's essays about Serbia, and the disapproval he met with for standing against the discrimination of the Serb people.
Handke addressed the ceremony speaking in Serbian to say he would remain faithful to Belgrade - "a tragic city, but one that is bright on the inside and on the outside."
"My history is with a tragic people, and my place is in the tragic and bright Belgrade. It is a city that has been bombarded three times in one century," he remarked, and noted that despite this, Belgrade was never "the dark nest of the Balkans, like some have seen it."
"I don't deserve this honor, but I accept it on behalf of my children," Handke, who was on Friday received by President Tomislav Nikolic, said.
This year the city of Belgrade announced that three foreigners would become its honorary citizens: beside Handke, they are Russian filmmaker Nikita Mikhailkov and Norway's former politician Thorvald Stoltenberg.