Pamuk Praised by European Leaders and Contemporaries

Deutsche Welle, Germany
Oct 13 2006

Pamuk Praised by European Leaders and Contemporaries

Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Orhan Panuk’s Nobel
Prize for Literature win was widely praised

European officials and writers reacted with delight to the news on
Thursday that Orhan Pamuk had won the 2006 Nobel Literature prize,
becoming the first Turk to win the coveted award.

Praise was particularly effusive in Turkey itself, where the
political dissident has often clashed with the establishment.

"It is great happiness for us all that a Turkish writer has won such
a prestigious award," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül told reporters at
a joint press conference with his visiting Afghan counterpart Rangin
Dadfar Spanta.

In an apparent reference to the controversies Pamuk has stirred up,
Gul said: "Many day-to-day things are soon forgotten but the fact
that a Turkish writer has won the Nobel award will echo throughout
the world… It is great publicity for Turkey."

"This is a historic day," said Metin Celal, chairman of the Turkish
Publishers’ Union, forecasting that Pamuk’s success would put Turkish
literature firmly on the world map.

Author delighted with prize

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:
Pamuk was congratulated by the Turkish government
France, Germany and the European Commission also hailed the news,
while Pamuk himself said he was delighted.

"It’s such a great honor, such a great pleasure," Pamuk told
journalists at Columbia University in New York. "I think that this is
first of all an honor bestowed upon the Turkish language, Turkish
culture, Turkey and also recognition of my labors … my humble
devotion to that great art of the novel."

Turkey’s congratulations came despite bad blood between the
establishment and the 54-year-old author, who has challenged official
policies and rejected the accolade of "State Artist".

The timing of the award was ironic.

Just hours before the Swedish Academy announced the award, the French
parliament approved a bill making it an offense punishable by prison
to deny that the Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians
during World War I.

Pamuk himself was put on trial earlier this year for challenging the
official line on the massacres, which Turkey denies were genocide.

Pamuk praised by those who once damned him

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:
Chirac was said to be delighted for Pamuk
French President Jacques Chirac said he was "delighted" that Pamuk
had won the Nobel Literature prize. Chirac said he was "particularly
delighted" saying Pamuk’s "reflection on society is… intelligent,
strong and liberal".

The case against Pamuk was dropped on a technicality but not before a
provincial official ordered the destruction of Pamuk’s books. Ankara
swiftly stopped the move, wary of undermining its democratic
credentials in European Union eyes.

In Brussels EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn called the award a
victory for "artistic freedom and for freedom of expression."

A prize for freedom of speech

"It is good news for all those who want to speak, search, learn the
truth, pursue dialogue, exchange thoughts and knowledge — not just
in Turkey but everywhere else," the Finnish commissioner said.
"Artists … need freedom of expression as desperately as life needs
water and air. Orhan knows more than others how precious and fragile
such freedom is."

Rehn recalled Pamuk telling him during his legal woes he just wanted
to "write books again and free my mind from all this harassment."

Pamuk’s novels, which include "Snow" and "My Name is Red," regularly
tackle Turkey’s decades-old internal struggle between Islam and

"In his home country, Pamuk has a reputation as a social commentator
even though he sees himself principally as a fiction writer with no
political agenda," the Nobel jury commented.

"A builder of bridges"

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:
Steinmeier acknowledged Pamuk’s cultural influence
In Germany, whose 2.5-million-strong Turkish community is the biggest
outside Turkey itself, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
hailed Pamuk as a "builder of bridges.

"He is a symbol for the wish of large parts of Turkish society to
become a part of Europe," said Steinmeier, who supports Turkey’s bid
to join the EU.

Pamuk’s editor in France, Jean Mattern, said the Nobel panel had
rewarded "the quality of his writing and the force of his message.

"His work has always tackled political and historical issues head
on," he told reporters.

Pamuk’s Turkish publisher, Iletisim, was also delighted.

"We are very happy," said academic and Iletisim editor Ahmet Insel.
"Pamuk is an important representative of the modern novel in the
world," he told NTV.

Of the writer’s political views, Insel said: "If we take a look at
the long history of the Nobel Literature Prize, we see that the
authors who won the award have made important political statements on
the future of their countries and the world."

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