PARIS – The Latest on World War I armistice commemorations (all times local):
Serbia is holding large military drills to mark 100 years since the end of World War I in an apparent show of force amid rising tensions with Kosovo.
The live-ammunition maneuvers on Saturday, dubbed “The Century of Winners,” include 8,000 soldiers, 100 battle tanks and MiG-29 fighter jets supplied by Russia.
Tensions recently have increased in the region, with Serbia and Kosovo accusing each other of undermining efforts at reconciliation following a 1998-99 war which ended after NATO intervention. The former Serbian province declared independence in 2008 which Belgrade doesn’t recognize.
Serbia is often wrongly accused of starting World War I after a Serb nationalist assassinated the Austrian archduke in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1914. Serbia suffered the worst losses proportional to the size of its army during the war.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has paid homage to veterans at a World War I centennial commemoration in a cemetery in northern France, thanking soldiers for their service as he stood amid row upon row of silent graves.
With medal-bedecked veterans in attendance Saturday morning, Trudeau spoke of the “history for which you bled and fought, a history built on your sacrifice.”
He said Canada owes its veterans “a tremendous debt of gratitude” and added: “From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you.”
Clutching a red chrysanthemum, Trudeau also walked among the white gravestones at the Canadian Cemetery No. 2, in Neuville-St.Vaast in northern France. It holds the remains of 820 casualties from the 1914-1918 war.
A weekend of commemorations involving dozens of world leaders to mark 100 years since the end of World War I is underway, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicking off the events in France and elsewhere with a visit to a cemetery.
Trudeau met veterans and laid a wreath Saturday at a Canadian cemetery in northern France containing the remains of 820 casualties from the 1914-1918 conflict, many unidentified and lying under white headstones marked simply: A soldier of the Great War.
More than 60 heads of state and government are converging on France for the commemorations that will crescendo Sunday with ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, exactly a century after the armistice.