"In 2014 it will be 100 years ago that the atentat of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo triggered the start of the First World War. It is important to mark this tragic historic event, a devastating war that lead to many deaths, suffering, division and horrors throughout Europe and the world. But it is even more important to mark and celebrate European unity and peace today. To reaffirm Europe's message of peace and stability, I believe it would send a very important message if Sarajevo would be proclaimed the European Capital of Culture of 2014. Not just because it was where the First World War started, but because in Europe, it is in Bosnia and Herzegovina that we had the most recent war in the nineties. During the bloody war and the siege of Sarajevo that lasted three years, citizens of Sarajevo have endured a lot. Today it is a city where despite everything that happened, it has maintained its multicultural spirit and strength. In order to recognize this, it would be a strong symbolic gesture to name Sarajevo the European Capitol of Culture 2014." says Emine Bozkurt prior to the debate that will be held this week in Strasbourg in the plenary session of the European Parliament on Thursday.
The European Parliament, with the support of the Social and Democrats will ask the European Commission whether they will support the request by the city of Sarajevo to be named, by exception, the European Capitol of Culture in 2014.
Emine Bozkurt adds: "War is devastating and leaves marks on people's lives. Sometimes it seems easier for people to forget the past to be able to go on with their lives. But it is only when we deal with our past, when we recognize and face history that we can look openly to the future. Today, we celebrate Europe Day! BiH wants to be part of the European Union. Therefore, it needs positive peaceful messages of peace and reconciliation between its peoples. Not only in Sarajevo, but throughout the country and with its neighbours.
"Today, at the place of the former concentration camp Omarska, people from Bosnia and Serbia have commemorated the deaths and sufferings that happened there, together for the first time since the beginning of the war. The sufferings of civilians during the wars in the nineties must be honourably commemorated so as to become part of public memory. Memorial initiatives, with positive messages of peace, hope and togetherness of all peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and together with its neighbours can be an important step towards reconciliation and a multiethnic society and progress on the path towards the EU."