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news 05 Nov 13

Bosnian Serbs Oppose Sarajevo WW1 Centenary

Milorad Dodik says Republika Srpska will not participate in plans to mark the centenary of the start of World War I in Sarajevo - and plans its own events in tandem with Serbia.

Elvira M. Jukic

Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska, on November 4 said that Bosnia's mainly Serbian entity will not take part in events planned in Sarajevo to mark 100 years from the outbreak of the First World War.

He said this was because the events in Sarajevo would not be well grounded, historically, and would not contribute to reconciliation among peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dodik added that the entity would instead collaborate with neighbouring Serbia over a programme of events.

Sarajevo is gearing up for events planned to mark the centenary of the assassination in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie.

Bosnia was then part of Austria-Hungary, and the Archduke's assassination by a Bosnian Serb nationalist named Gavrilo Pincip led directly to the outbreak of war between the Habsburg Empire and Serbia, when then drew in Russia, Germany, France, Britain, and others.

“A few days ago in Serbia we talked to their leaderss about this matter," Dodik said. "We are dealing with ways to centrally mark this event, probably ... on St Vitus Day next year,” he said.

Referring to a plan by Serbs in the Bosnian town of Grahovo to reconstruct Princip's house, Dodik said that he supported the idea.

Different cultural events are planned for Sarajevo next June, including debates and historical conferences. The central event will be a concert performed by the Vienna Philharmonic on 28 June.

Much of the cash for this is coming from France and Germany. Beyond Sarajevo there will be events dedicated to the centenary in other towns too.

Tension over the centenary in Bosnia reflects the fact that Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks [Muslims] view Princip's action and legacy differently.

To most Serbs, Princip was a national hero whose memory is to be celebrated. Many Croats, on the other hand, recall Princip as a terrorist and do not rejoice in the destruction of Austria-Hungary, which was a direct consequence of the war.

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