news 01 Aug 13

Sarajevo Honours Croatian Writer for ‘Spreading Truth’

Well-known Croatian writer Predrag Matvejevic has been proclaimed an honorary citizen of Sarajevo because of his writing about the Bosnian conflict and his anti-war activism.

Boris Pavelic
BIRN
Zagreb

Sarajevo city council declared Matvejevic an honorary citizen on Wednesday, saying the he had made an “immeasurable contribution” to “spreading the truth about the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Matvejevic, now 81, is the most translated contemporary Croatian writer, renowned for his anti-war activism and for advocating a united Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war.

"I am touched by the honour that Sarajevo gave me. There are many others who deserve it more than me,” Matvejevic told BIRN on Thursday.

“I remember going to Sarajevo during the war, I remember how brave Sarajevo people defended themselves and their city. Today, unfortunately, Sarajevo isn't the city we dreamed of during the war,” he said.

As well as visiting Sarajevo while it was under siege, he also wrote a lot for the international press, particularly France’s Le Monde, about the situation in the former Yugoslavia, openly criticising the policy of then Croatian president Franjo Tudjman for his attempts to create the Croat-run statelet called Herzeg-Bosnia in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina.

When the war started, he left Croatia after receiving threats and lived abroad for almost 15 years, later describing the period as “life between asylum and exile”.

Matvejevic was born in 1932 in Mostar to a Russian emigre father and a Catholic mother from Herzegovina.

He has written several dozen books, among which the most popular is ‘Mediterranean Breviary’, which was translated into more than 12 languages.

Until 1991, he was professor of Roman literatures at Zagreb University, and after leaving Croatia he taught at the New Sorbonne University in Paris and at La Sapienza University in Rome.

The presidents of Croatia, France, Slovenia and Italy have also honoured him for his writing and anti-war activism.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy was also proclaimed an honorary citizen of Sarajevo on Wednesday.

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