“Without involvement in the wounds of the Balkans I would not be a true writer”.
“There are no human rights, nor democratic guarantees. The remaining Serbs are not even allowed to tend their graves, they are living in terror. And the EU, headed by the Slovene Janez Janza, a leading criminal of the Yugoslav drama, will recognise its independence, otherwise the Albanians are threatening a new war”
By Tommaso Di Francesco, Paris
Wary but frank, Peter Handke receives us into his house on the remote outskirts of Paris. Diaphanous, tall and bony, in a white shirt which he wears when he comes to meet us despite the cold, he appears like one of the angels from “Sky Above Berlin” [aka Wings of Desire (1988)], the film by Wim Wenders for which he wrote the screenplay.
For many years he has lived here, he popped up in these parts like one of the mushrooms for which he looks during his long walks in the woods near his house. He is one of the most politically incorrect of writers, practically persecuted by the cultural institutions of the world, as when two years ago in Germany his award of the “Heinrich Heine” prize was rescinded, or straight afterwards in France La Comédie Française dropped one of his plays from their programme. Moreover only two months ago Handke has won a case for defamation against Il Nouvel Observateur which had written, mendaciously, that he had laid a red rose on the grave of Milosevic.
What is his crime? Peter Handke is accused of being pro-Serb, now, during Nato’s bloody “humanitarian” bombing of former Yugoslavia and in the period of the interethnic war. We are meeting him while he prepares to leave on a new “winter journey” to Serbia where he will take part in the Festival of Cinematographic Schools which takes place in the city of cinema planned by Emir Kusturica in Mokra Gora, meanwhile the battle over the status of Kosovo rages and everyone waits for the presidential elections in Belgrade on 20 January.