THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SARAJEVO’S PARKS// 09. 1992. • MUHAMED KRESEVLJAKOVIC// MAYOR OF SARAJEVO
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Mayor of Sarajevo
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SARAJEVO’S PARKS
‘You know, that was one decision for which I was much criticized: why did I allow the parks of Sarajevo to disappear? And around the 10th of September I gave a statement in which I said that I thought it was much more important to have that wood, which at that moment was used to make food, and which would be used later for heating during those long Sarajevo winters. I felt that one human life was worth more than all that greenery, than those trees of ours.’
• The Presidency of BiH decides the evacuation of children by the organization Children’s Embassy will only be carried out under the strictest security.
• Slobodan Milosevic dismisses Milan Panic, the new president of the government of Yugoslavia.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Stup, the site of a bustling market, the situation grows tense. The HVO, BiH Territorial Defense and Bosnian Serbs erect barricades against each another.
• The city’s government battles epidemics of entercolitis and dysentery.
• Sarajevo’s Jewish community announces: “We want to be Bosnian Jews. During the Second World War, the Muslims acted the most justly. They protected the Jews.”
• Russian media blames the Muslims for all of the Serbs′ actions.
• Serb snipers fire at journalists from “Oslobodjenje” as they enter their office.
• An overland corridor is established between Split and Sarajevo.
• The Serbs agree to place their heavy artillery under UNPROFOR control after the expiration of the deadline of the ultimatum.
• Associations are established in Sarajevo for citizens expelled from other towns in BiH.
• An Italian humanitarian flight is shot down.
• Geneva, September 4, 1992. In Geneva, under the auspices of the UN and EC, in the Palace of Nations, an international conference begins on the former Yugoslavia.
• Humanitarian aid networks bring the citizens of Sarajevo 400 kg of food daily.
• The Children’s Embassy convoy is put on hold.
• The Ministry of Education issues a statement that enrolment in school is dependent on security conditions.
• Geneva, September 6, 1992. At the international conference, the aggressor’s side is asked to place all of its heavy artillery around Sarajevo, Gorazde, Bihac and Jajce under UN control by September 12. Karadzic doesn’t sign the agreement on placing heavy artillery under UNPROFOR control.
• Despite the deadline given Radovan Karadzic on handing over arms to UNPROFOR control, he continues to negotiate over the size of artillery pieces to be confiscated.
• Robbery of the “Fruktal” warehouse in Stup. HVO units and Juka’s unit compete over who will take more. The headquarters of the HVO in Mostar is given an ultimatum by the Armed Forces of BiH in Sarajevo to withdraw from Stup within 48 hours.
• Premier performance of the play “Skloniste” at the War Theatre “Sartr.”
• The “Holiday Inn” Hotel makes $230,000 in two months because it is the only hotel that can receive foreign journalists and supply them with food, water and electricity.
• Citizens rip out seesaws and benches from parks to survive the winter.
• The citizens of Sarajevo can buy a barrel of water up to 30 liters for 10 Deutsche Marks. Those that are able to get water from one of the rare sources in the city know that one canister of water could cost them their lives because of exposure to snipers and shelling.
• Dr Mario Landeka, at the “Paleta” gallery, displays 22 paintings on the theme of water.
• Bosnian Serb forces place their arms under UNPROFOR control at 11 positions.
• The Bosnian Serbs launch a heavy offensive. HVO units flee Stup, retreating from the city’s line of defense.
• The BiH delegation travels to Geneva for peace negotiations.
• The city lacks chlorine for the chlorination of drinking water, leading to negotations with UNPROFOR.
• The Bosnian Serb offensive on Stup continues, in an attempt to enter the city through its weakened defensive lines.
• The children’s choir “Palcici” writes to Princess Diana to tell her what’s happening to them.
• 20 authors display a portfolio of prints “SA 92”.
• Football league matches are held in Sarajevo under the slogan “It’s important to participate.”
• The city is ravaged by hunger, illness, despair and death.
• Muslims and Croats flee Grbavica, the occupied part of the city, paying ransoms on their own lives to the Serbs.
• A match is played between Sarajevo and UNPROFOR. The final score is 12 - 3.
Sarajevo got its first park at the end of the last century. That was the Big Park, modeled by some governmental figure during the reign of the Austro- Hungarian Empire Later, dozens of parks were planted with different trees and bushes, flowers and grass. They first suffered through the shelling, and then fell during the cold days and nights, cut by people who loved them but wanted to survive the winter. They did not believe anyone who reassured them that there would be electricity and that the heating systems would work. They were right.
In 1992 and 1993 the price of wood in Sarajevo was 350 DM per cubic meter. Parks were places where citizens got their wood. The wood from Sarajevo parks could be bought at markets, neatly cut and packed in bags. The prices varied according to the weather forecasts. Even the park benches ended up in the hand-made stoves. The best preserved city park is the first park established in the city - the Central Park. Parks appeared relatively late in Sarajevo, during the period of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, because there were so many green areas that there was no need for them. The first parks were actually redesigned old Muslim cemeteries.