A Serbian village unveiled what it said was Europe's first statue to the late Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley on Saturday, to promote tolerance in a region still recovering from war.

Two Balkan musicians, one from Croatia and one from Serbia, unveiled the monument in the village of Banatski Sokolac at midnight during a gathering of rock bands from the Balkans.

Serbian Bob Marley Statue
©Reuters/Nebojsa Markovic
Fireworks explode in the sky above a statue of late Jamaican reggae music legend Bob Marley during the opening ceremony of a rock festival in the Serbian village of Banatski Sokolac.

"Bob Marley promoted peace and tolerance in his music," said Mirko Miljus, an organiser.

The event continued a trend of raising monuments to popular Western icons instead of local historical figures. Bosnians have erected a monument to Bruce Lee in the town of Mostar and Serbs have put up a statue to Rocky Balboa in northern Serbia.

Following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and the bloodshed of the 1990s, people can rarely agree on their role models and prefer figures not linked to the region.