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news 29 Jun 14

Bosnia Marks World War One Centennial

Bosnia marked the centenary of the 1914 assassination that helped to trigger World War I with a range of cultural events intended to send out a message of peace, organisers said.

Elvira M. Jukic
Concert of Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Vijecnica/ Photo EBU  

A concert by the Vienna Philharmonic in the recently re-opened Vijecnica, the historic Sarajevo City Hall which was recently refurbished after being shelled in the 1990s war, was the central event to mark the centenary of the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914.

A few hundred people followed the concert from the other side of the river Miljacka.

  People watching the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra concert outside Vijecnica / Photo BIRN  


  Banners saying 'we are occupied again' / Photo AP


However several dozen people protested wearing Gavrilo Princip masks and banners with the message that “we are still occupied”, accusing nationalist politics, financial institutions and the international community of continuing to dominate the country. 

The Sarajevo assassination was seen as a key trigger of World War I a hundred years ago.

Bosnia was then part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Opinions about the killing are divided with some condemning Princip and others praising him a hero.

Bosnina Serb politicians and officials from Belgrade marked the Sarajevo assassination in a separate set of events in Visegrad in eastern Bosnia.

    Mosaic in Visegrad showing Gavrilo Princip / Photo AP

The central event which was held in Andricgrad, the mini-town within Visegrad created by film-maker Emir Kusturica, was unveiling of a mosaic celebrating Princip.

  Image of Gavrilo Princip / Photo AP

In the town of Grahovo in north-west Bosnia, Princip’s birthplace, the Serb authorities opened his reconstructed family house, after a new statue of Princip was unveiled in East Sarajevo on Friday.

Many other events were held in Sarajevo to mark the historic gunshot. Alongside several exhibitions which dealt with the period, a 'message of peace' from Sarajevo was sent in a musical performance set on the Latin bridge or so-called 'Princip bridge' metres from where the assassination took place.

  Replica of Franz Ferdinand car in Sarajevo / Photo AP

The performance on the bridge, which involved around 300 participants, was watched by hundreds of people.

While many Serbs see Princip as a hero, many Croats consider him a terrorist, and schools in former Yugoslav countries teach different histories about the causes of the 1914-18 war, reflecting more recent conflicts in the region, as a recent BIRN investigation showed.

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