DOTYKY, a well-known Slovak literary magazine which receives public funding, has published poems by the controversial Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadžić. Karadžić is awaiting trial at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague on charge of crimes against humanity and genocide.
Karadžić wrote the poems in jail. The editor-in-chief of Dotyky, Boris Brendza, denied that anything other than artistic intention was behind publication of the poems.
“The poems are very good and the whole editorial staff stands behind them, because it would be a shame not to show them or present them to the Slovak reader,” Brendza said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.
It is not the only time the poems have been published in Slovakia. They appeared last year in Dotyky, which is published by the Association of Slovak Writers (SSP), and then again, a month ago, in Slovenské Pohľady, a magazine published by Matica Slovenská, a cultural organisation which also receives state financing.
“The Ministry of Culture does not see it as being appropriate to publish the poems of Radovan Karadžić in these two periodicals, the more so because there are a lot of other Serbian poets who would have been much more interesting for Slovak readers from a literary viewpoint,” Jozef Bednár, the Culture Ministry’s spokesman, told The Slovak Spectator.
But he added that the fact that grants are provided to publishers of books or periodicals cannot be seen as giving the Ministry the right to control their editorial plans or the contents of their periodicals.
“Subventions are not granted in order to give the right to the Culture Ministry to control the content of the magazines,” he said. “If it was so, we would be returning some decades back.
Obviously, if the publishers have violated the law or there is a complaint filed in this respect, the responsible authorities should act.”
Miroslav Lajčák, the minister for foreign affairs, condemned the publication of Karadžić’s poetry by Slovak periodicals at a press conference after a meeting with his Serbian counterpart, Vuk Jeremić, SITA reported.
“I see it as a regrettable and unfortunate decision by those who published his works in Slovakia and I hope they will take responsibility,” Lajčák said, as quoted by the Sme daily. “We should think of the thousands of people who to this day have not found the remains of their murdered family members for whose death [Karadžić] bears responsibility.”
“I think it’s no incidence that Karadžić today [stands] accused of the worst crimes against humanity. Genocide is connected to his name,” he said. Lajčák served as International High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina until February this year.