APRIL 19 2013 19:46h

French embassy dismisses Dodik's accusations

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The French Embassy in Sarajevo on Friday dismissed the accusations made by Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik against the French government for planning to mark the 100 anniversary of the outbreak of World War One in Sarajevo next year.

"We cannot be accused of partiality and we will continue working on this project with all well-meaning people," the embassy said in a statement that was circulated to local media.

Earlier this month French Ambassador Roland Gilles announced that the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI would be marked in a special way in Sarajevo in June 2014. The project was designed by the French government and will be carried out with the financial support of Germany and with the assistance of the authorities in Sarajevo. For that purpose, the "Sarajevo, the Heart of Europe" foundation has been established.

Gilles said that it was no coincidence that two countries that had lost four million of their inhabitants in the First World War were cooperating on this project. "Our aim is to send out a message of peace," he said, announcing a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for June 28, 2014 in Sarajevo.

Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie on June 28, 1914 during their visit to Sarajevo, which sparked the First World War.

The Mayor of Sarajevo, Ivo Komsic, has said that events planned for 2014 could be the first political project that would be supported by the whole country since the end of its 1992-1995 war. His expectations were undermined by Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik, who issued a statement on Thursday banning all people from the Bosnian Serb entity, known as Republika Srpska, from participating in the planned events in Sarajevo next year.

Dodik said that he issued the ban because the organisation of which Gavrilo Princip had been a member, called Mlada Bosna or Young Bosnia, was considered a terrorist organisation in Sarajevo. "Gavrilo Princip was a freedom fighter and not a perfidious terrorist as slanderously portrayed by Sarajevo," he said. (Hina)