Bosnian Serbs unveil statue honoring Archduke Ferdunand's assassin

This is pretty bizarre - even for the Balkans.

Bosnian Serbs unveiled a statue yesterday honoring Gavrilo Princip, the teenager who pulled the trigger in Sarajevo 100 years ago today killing Archduke Ferdinand - heir to the throne of the Hapsburg Empire - and his wife. The event touched off a series of blunders, misjudgements, and misadventures that culminated in the great powers stumbling into a war that few of them wanted and none could foresee the consequences for.

By the time the dust settled in November, 1918, the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires had disintegrated, Russia had gone Communist, and Germany, Great Britain, and France had been bled white. Nearly 40 million died, both soldiers and non-combatants. Ands yet, the man who is largely responsible for starting the conflict is honored as a hero?

You have to be pretty obtuse to ignore the massive bloodletting and celebrate the national impulses that drove Princip and his Clown Car Posse of hapless conspirators to carry out their shocking murders.

Associated Press:

Marking the eve of the centennial of the beginning of World War I, Bosnian Serbs on Friday unveiled a monument in Sarajevo to the man who ignited the war by assassinating the Austro-Hungarian crown prince on June 28, 1914.

At the other end of the city, the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra was rehearsing for Saturday’s grand EU-sponsored performance, planned as a symbolic start of a new century of peace at the place where decades of war in Europe started 100 years ago.

The two events testify to the depth of lingering divisions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where one side performed works of Austrian, German and French composers in a salute to European integration while the other celebrated as a national hero the man who assassinated the emperor’s heir.

Saturday’s concert aims to emphasize the transformation Europe has gone through, said Clemens Hellsberg, the president of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. “We feel obliged to do things in a better way than it was done in the past,” the Austrian said, adding the orchestra would deliver a message of humanity to those who want to listen.

It will start with the Bosnian anthem and finish with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the official European anthem, which symbolizes where Europe sees Bosnia’s future, he said.

In East Sarajevo, made up mostly of Bosnian Serbs, they have a different view of Bosnia’s future: to divide the country so that the Serb part can join neighboring Serbia.

During the unveiling ceremony Friday, a young actor dressed as shooter Gavrilo Pricip ran onto the stage and fired two shots in the air. He then cited a poem Princip wrote in captivity. A Serbian folk dance followed. Later the actor pointed his gun into the air while posing in front of Princip’s statue as people in the crowd shouted he should “shoot at NATO” or “shoot at the EU.”

“Gavrilo Princip was a freedom fighter, and the Austro-Hungarian empire was an occupier here,” said the president of the Bosnian Serb half of the country, Milorad Dodik, after he unveiled the 2-meter-tall bronze statue. “People who live here have never been on the same side of history and are still divided. We are sending different messages, and that says it all about this country, which is being held together by international violence,” he said.

Yeah - so much has changed in 100 years.

Bosnia is the EU's tar baby now. As an indication of what's to come, no Serbs are taking part in the EU ceremonies. The Bosnian Serbs still pine for annexation by Serbia and Princip's statue says more about where their hearts lay than all the feel-good ministrations of the multi-culturalists at the EU.