June 28 is a momentous day in Bosnian capital Sarajevo’s history, for it was here 100 years ago Serbian activist Gavrilo Princip fired shots that killed the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, shots that began the first world war.
On Sunday amateur and professional cyclists held a race to commemorate the event, put together by the Tour de France organisers, as the assassination also co-incided with the start of that year’s tour.
“If there was anything good about the war it is that we learned our lesson. We are now making a century of peace here. This is how I see this day today – the beginning of a century of peace in the Balkans and in Europe,” said the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic.
This optimism follows a century during which war never seemed far away for the Balkans, as just 20 years ago the region was engulfed in conflict as Yugoslavia broke up.
For Serbs Princip was a hero fighting for independence, but for many Croats and Muslims he was a terrorist, and represented a Serbian nationalism that would have eventually turned on them.
In the war Serbia fought on the allied side, at first all but destroyed by Bulgaria, its army by 1918 was victorious, with French and British help.
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