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Sarajevo: Final touches ahead of WW1 commemoration

Sarajevo: Final touches ahead of WW1 commemoration
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Sarajevo is putting the finishing touches to preparations for the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of World War One.

Later on Saturday the Vienna Philharmonic will be playing from a repertoire harking back to the heyday of the Habsburg Empire.

It will take place in the city hall, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand attended a reception on the same day in 1914 before being fatally shot in an incident which triggered the Great War.

Those who live in the town the have mixed feelings about the commemorations.

“I don’t like any war so I don’t like these commemorations either. I would like to see a commemoration marking 100 years of peace instead,” said Sabahudin Seleskovic, a pensioner from Sarajevo.

Another man spoke of the grandeur of the event.

“We never had anything like this, and it looks like it will be impressive. So, we’ll see tonight (how it turns out),” he said.

Differing interpretations of the past reflect the divisions which continue to haunt the country. The man who fired the shot which triggered the first world war is considered both an assassin and a freedom fighter.

Gavrilo Princip is a revered by some Bosnian Serbs as a hero fighting against foreign occupation of the Balkans, and they unveiled a statue to him on Friday in East Sarajevo.

They have decided to boycott Saturday’s official celebrations, preferring to hold their own.