Representatives of the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide hold a picture of the winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature Peter Handke in Srebrenica, during a protest in front of Sweden embassy in Sarajevo. File picture: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Stockholm - Shortly before Tuesday's Nobel award ceremony, Turkey and Croatia criticized the Nobel literature award to Austrian author Peter Handke.

Croatia said it would not attend, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature as "racist."

The Foreign Ministry of Croatia tweeted it will not attend the ceremony for Handke, "a person supportive of Slobodan Milosevic's Greater Serbian policy during the 1990s."

Earlier, diplomats representing Albania, Kosovo and Turkey said they would boycott the Stockholm ceremony.

The Nobel Foundation, which manages the assets of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel who endowed the literature prize and other Nobel awards, had no comment on the stayaways.

Croatia had to fight Belgrade's forces for independence between 1991 and 1995, as well as ethnic Serb rebels who were backed by Milosevic.

As in Bosnia, the conflict had been marred by atrocities against the population.

Protests against the award to Handke were planned in Stockholm later Tuesday.

Co-organizer Teufika Sabanovic, who lost her father in the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia 1995, told dpa she hoped at least 500 people would attend.

"I think it's important to do this," she said. "We must stand up."

Handke "is rewriting history, he's questioning genocide. This has been proven," added Sabanovic, who came to Sweden in 1998.

Literature laureate Peter Handke speaks during his Nobel Lecture at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. Picture: Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/via Reuters

Members of the Mothers of Srebrenica, who for years have been fighting against what they see as complacency in relation to the Srebrenica massacre and other war crimes, were to take part in the rally.

"Genocide has been carried out," Kadira Hotic, one of the prominent Mothers, told a news conference in Stockholm late Monday. "No eraser can erase the truth."

Hotic lost a son, husband and two brothers, along with other relatives in Srebrencia.

The Serbs, commanded by the armed forces chief Ratko Mladic, summarily executed around 8,000 boys and men after rolling into the Srebrenica enclave, though it was a UN-protected safe haven.

The UN International Court of Justice ruled in 2007 that the massacre was genocide. 

Mladic and the wartime Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, along with several others, were found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica and other atrocities at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Miolsevic died in detention in 2006 while facing a war crimes trial at the UN tribunal in The Hague. Handke spoke at his funeral.

Last week, Swedish Academy member Peter Englund, a former academy spokesman, said he would not take part in the events for Handke, saying it would be "hypocritical."

dpa