The Mayor of Sarajevo, Ivo Komsic

Transcript Mayor of Sarajevo's interview with Centenary News

Posted on on 28 June 2013
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A transcript of the interview the Mayor of Sarajevo, Ivo Komsic, gave to Centenary News on the 99th anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination. The interview was carried out and translated by Centenary News' Tanja Bonny.

How does Sarajevo plan to commemorate the Centenary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand?

The City of Sarajevo, working with Austria, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, most probably joined by other countries in the region too, will participate in the “Sarajevo 2014” cultural programme to mark the Centenary of the First World War.

As part of this programme to mark the Centenary, we are planning a number of cultural, commemorative, scientific and sporting events for the period of 21st to the 28th of June 2014.

Can you provide some details about the events which have been planned so far?

What has been confirmed so far is a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for the reopening of Sarajevo Library; exhibitions of contemporary art; and a cycling competition in partnership with the Tour de France and Cyclists’ Union of BiH. The cycling event should be attended by some of the former winners of this famous French sporting event.

Furthermore, sixteen directors are already working on a film entitled “The Bridges of Sarajevo”, in co-operation with the French production company Cinteve and Sarajevo Film Festival.

The programme will be funded by the European Union, as well as by the countries marking the Centenary of the First World War independently – France, the United Kingdom, Austria and Germany. All of us wish to promote peace, freedom, co-existence and togetherness in Europe and the world.

Approximately 45 international projects have been applied for, out of which 12 have been selected for further consideration. The final selection of events will be made by the governing board of the Sarajevo – heart of Europe foundation, which was established on the 14th February 2013 to co-ordinate the activities surrounding the Centenary.

Furthermore, our city is hosting a cultural programme in 2014 called Sarajevo – European bridge of cultures 2014, which will enable Sarajevo to re-establish its identity as a European cultural capital, as well as open the possibility for national projects with a call for proposals to be announced in September.

Do you think it is important that the world remembers the role Sarajevo played at the beginning of the First World War?

A hundred years ago, the shots in Sarajevo marked the beginning of the First World War, which caused the greatest number of casualties in history up until that point and caused incredible suffering and misery.

It was the war which brought the whole world into conflict. It was the war which brought the most radical changes to the map of Europe and practically provided the basis for further political divisions later on. The consequences of these divisions were the Second World War and to an extent, even today’s situation in Europe.

After the war, we saw the creation of Yugoslavia, which despite its transformations lasted until the 1990s. Its disintegration caused a new conflict in Europe after the Second World. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sarajevo are the greatest victims of that war.

From a historical perspective, it is equally important to mark those events for Europe as well as Sarajevo. From a political perspective, it is important to remind ourselves of the tragic consequences of war and send a message of peace.

For Sarajevo, which was the subject of great media focus both 100 years ago and 20 years ago, it is very important to become the focus of completely different events. Sarajevo in 2014 will have the attention of the whole world. The media should provide Sarajevo with an entrance to every home, but not because of tragedy, but because of something completely new.

Sarajevo needs to send an encouraging message of peace, hope for us and the whole world; the message of overcoming disagreements and difficulties, of solidarity in the world, of living in peace and tolerance.

These messages are important for young people, who we need to equip with new awareness, values and perspectives. They need to have faith and hope in the future, not only here, but in the rest of the world where people are living with desperation, conflict and mistrust.

© Centenary Digital Ltd