NENAD KECMANOVIC’S ROLE IN THE BH PRESIDENCY// 06. 1992. • STJEPAN KLJUJIC// MEMBER OF THE BH PRESIDENCY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Member of the BH Presidency
NENAD KECMANOVIC’S ROLE IN THE BH PRESIDENCY
‘Nenad Kecmanovic joined the BH Presidency in fear for his own life. But I must admit that, without consciously meaning that he played a very positive role. When, in line with world public opinion, we completed the Presidency with legal Serb representatives from the election list, that is with Kecmanovic, and Professor Pejanovic, we gained legitimacy with world public opinion. We then adopted a document called Platform of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was an AVNOJ-like document, it could still today serve for a basis for the future of BH, and I must admit that Kecmanovic took an active part in drawing it up. But he could hardly wait to get out. And he considered that as a member of the Presidency he could. Of course there were people who could hardly wait to get out. At meetings he showed a characteristic lack of interest because he wasn’t a politician but a bon vivant that had learned to live, and privately I must tell you that he drank a lot. I don’t drink and so I had alcohol and when we left the Presidency he would ask me to lend him a bottle of whiskey. I said to him: ‘Mr. Kecmanovic you can’t return it. I won’t lend you a bottle I’ll give you one.’ So he could hardly wait to get out of the Presidency. He was very important for us because we could show to the international community that we respected the constitutionality of the country. Unfortunately our Platform had more publicity abroad than it did at home. Those who came to power later in Sarajevo betrayed the Platform and that’s another side of the medal. In short, Kecmanovic became a member of the Presidency in order to get out. He went to Pale and made lying promises to them. Then he went to Belgrade thinking that Milosevic would use him in some way or other, but he has no political future, he’s a dead man in the political sense.’
• A home for the blind becomes a perch for armed Serb paramilitary troops.
• The JNA leaves the largest barracks, “Marsal Tito,” in the city center.
• Telephone connection cut: Sarajevo – the World.
• The citizens, shut in their apartment blocks and basements because of the unending shelling, begin organizing block events.
• The city faces severe food shortages. The local community creates a mini farm at Buljakov stream to survive.
• When the aggressor attacks Aerodromsko naselje citizens turn their radios up to the song, “Don’t give up, Bosnia!”
• The UN leads negotiations on reclaiming the airport, which is under the control of the JNA and Serb terrorists.
• Sarajevan psychiatrists give advice to citizens on how to mentally survive: establish as many contacts as possible, avoid isolation, show solidarity, share everything with others, and do as much as possible – invent tasks rather than sit with folded arms.
• Methadone runs out, a treatment for narcotics addicts.
• The electrical power system in BiH is divided up.
• The Presidency of BiH proclaims a state of war and general mobilization.
• Louis Mackenzie, UNPROFOR Commander, brokers a two day truce as a condition for opening the airport.
• The building of the "Oslobodjenje" newspaper burns, under heavy artillery attacks.
• JNA planes target the TV transmitter in Mostre near Visoko, in the vicinity of Sarajevo.
• Serb paramilitary troop expel Muslim and Croat citizens from the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza.
• The President of the Presidency of BiH announces that he will leave for a conference in Strasbourg on April 25 if the airport is opened and if UNPROFOR secures the road to the airport.
• Before the conference in Strasbourg, special units of MUP petition against a cantonized and divided Bosnia.
• The Public Prosecutor’s Office of BiH in Sarajevo issues a ban on the SDS. The proceedings are initiated by the Center for Antiwar Activities and the Prosecutor’s office makes the ruling.
• SDS barricades halt BiH Olympians on their way to the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
• "Gras" tram conductors transport Sarajevans, and a fifth column inquires as to the departure times of trams which are then told to SDS terrorists so that they can fire upon them fro the hills.
• Klaus Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister, feels helpless rage and falls into a deep depression over the inability of the international community to help Bosnia and Sarajevo.
• Strasbourg, June 25, 1992. A summit on BiH begins in Strasbourg. Presiding over the summit is Lord Carrington. Participants: Haris Silajdzic, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman.
• Waiting for a ceasefire before opening the airport, Louis Mackenzie: the BiH government has an effective military in the city, while the Serbs state they will not fire at civilian targets, meaning they can fire at military targets.
• Sarajevans, being heavy smokers, smoke a variety of types of cigarettes in the besieged city; the healthiest are the KOKTEL cigarettes.
• MUP issues guidelines for safe movement in the city amid shelling and sniper fire.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Alipasino polje, B block, a chess competition is held.
• The peace conference in Strasbourg collapses.
• Abandoned house pets roam the city because their owners have fled.
• Sarajevo′s “Velepekara” (mass bakery) no longer produces bread, the staple food of Sarajevo, because it lacks yeast.
• Table tennis players from Sarajevo go to Crkvenica to prepare for a European tournament.
• French President François Mitterand, makes a completely unannounced landing at the closed Sarajevo airport, and later goes on a tour of the besieged city. He visits the State and Military Hospitals, and on this visit resolves the crisis over the delivery of humanitarian aid, just as he later blocks eventual air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions.
• The Presidency decides to implement work quotas for all civilians.
• The blue UN flag flaps over the runway of Sarajevo airport, three minutes before the UN Security Council convenes at the deadline of the ultimatum given the Bosnian Serbs. The first planes carrying humanitarian aid arrive in Sarajevo.
• All contact with the outside world is cut off.
• New York, June 30, 1992. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 761 which authorizes the Secretary General to employ UNPROFOR to establish the security and functioning of Sarajevo airport. Article 2 of the Resolution urges all parties to maintain an absolute and unconditional ceasefire.
THE PRESIDENCY BUILDING
The building was located in the city center. It was built in 1885 in the Neo-renaissance style and it was modeled on 15th century Florence palaces. It was the favorite target. A great number of people was killed or wounded in the streets near the building. The Presidency remained in the building throughout the war and foreign politicians or delegations were always welcomed because their visits meant a temporary respite from shelling.