December 1992

Irfan Durmic
Director of the Electric Company

‘At that time we started operating a small power plant. It was a museum piece even then, let alone now. It had been made in 1917. And we got some 160 kilowatts out of that plant, which was enough to supply one hospital, i.e. that which was most needed in the hospital.’



• Due to the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina and the siege of Sarajevo, the prevailing general attitude of the international community is that "the Serbs should be reasoned with, but not be defeated by us; we should leave them room for an honorable exit from a situation they themselves have created."
• Satish Nambiar, Chief of Staff of the United Nations for Bosnia, says: "This is a vicious circle. I do not really see a solution. "
• A conference of Islamic countries is held. The decision is made to request the repeal of the arms embargo on BiH. The oil reserves controlled by Islamic countries give power to this request
• Religious, scientific and literary institutions in Sarajevo send a letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton; these include ANUBiH, "La Benevolencija", "the Pen Centre", “Napredak”, “Preporod”, and the University of Sarajevo.
• Geneva, December 2nd, 1992. A resolution by the Commission on Human Rights is adopted unanimously that clearly identifies the aggressor and its atrocities.
• Bosnian Serb forces launch a heavy attack on Otes, a suburb of Sarajevo.
• Each Sarajevan is entitled to 0.333 kg of bread; 0.174 kg of flour is delivered instead to those parts of the city where bread can’t be delivered.
• Croatia ultimately abolishes the transit visa.
• OSBiH General Stjepan Siber protests UN organizations allowing Bosnian Serb soldiers to use white UN vehicles to drive across the airport runway.
• City’s Red Cross Center tends to refugees in refugee camps.
• The OSBiH is forced to retreat from the suburb of Otes in the face of the aggressor’s artillery attacks. Residents are evacuated. As they flee they cross the Dobrinja river.
• The Sarajevo branch of the HVO organizes a Christmas tournament for indoor soccer. Sixteen teams participate, the tournament lasts 17 days.
• Through the humanitarian organization "Adra" a large shipment of packages arrives from Belgrade.
• Russia does not want to deliver gas to Sarajevo because of its large debt for gas. The BiH delegation is in Moscow negotiating the release of gas.

• At the peace conference in Geneva, the delegations are working on maps. The BiH Foreign Minister suggests that BiH be divided into 13 cantons.
• The airport is closed. Sarajevo awaits a new round of humanitarian aid.
• Due to the difficult situation in the city, a ban is passed on coffee shops and bars staying open after 6pm.
• OSBiH soldiers take back a position on Zuc hill 850 meters high. This hill was one of the fiercest Serb strongholds for shooting at the citizens of Sarajevo.
• In Sarajevo the 'Blessed builders of peace' arrive. At the "Radnik" cinema they hold an ecumenical gathering
• At the peace conference in Geneva all three sides give written guarantees that they will not shoot at planes so that Sarajevo airport can be opened again.

• The President of the Croat-formed Herzeg-Bosnia, Mate Boban, blocks the entry of weapons for OSBiH before Sarajevo. Sarajevo is now besieged by three layers: the Bosnian Serbs, the UN, and Herzeg-Bosnia.
• The leader of the SDS, Radovan Karadzic, in Geneva makes a statement on ending the war on December 17th, but his assembly needs to adopt a resolution on the termination of the war.
• In order to be published daily, the newspaper "Oslobodjenje" needs a barrel of oil for its electrical generator, while journalists have one hour to prepare the news. Due to the small number of copies of the newspaper, citizens post copies on city walls.

• Counterfeit banknotes are noticed in the city in denominations of 5,000 BiH dinars. 1.2 million counterfeit banknotes have entered the city.
• The Bosnian Serb television network in Pale, "Srna", exerts constant pressure on Serbs in Sarajevo to leave the city.
• "Spiders" (tow-trucks) tow away improperly parked cars. The utility company "Rad" urges the public to stop parking on the streets.
• Geneva, December 18, 1992. A ministerial conference on the former Yugoslavia is completed on December 18th, 1992.
• Lawrence Eagleburger says that Milosevic and Karadzic systematically violate the agreements that they themselves have signed; pledges to punish all war criminals, naming some of them; suggests that the UN Security Council review the arms embargo on Bosnia; says that pressure must be exerted to open up pathways for humanitarian aid and efforts to prevent the spread of the war, particularly in Kosovo, should be stepped up; and that sanctions in order to stop the war as soon as possible should be strengthened
• New York, December 18th, 1992. The UN General Assembly adopts a resolution in wich they request the Security Council to lift the embargo on arms exports in Bosnia and to authorize military intervention if Serbia and Montenegro continue after January 15th with their violations of previous Security Council resolutions. 102 countries vote in favor of this resolution, with 57 abstentions and none against.
• At a session of the BiH Presidency it is decided that Alija Izetbegovic will remain president during the war.

• The first ambassador to BiH is appointed, Croatian Ambassador, Dr. Sancevic.

• The BiH airline "Air BiH" is established, comprised of former JAT employees. A company representative says: "Given that the Sarajevo airport is under UN control, the people of Sarajevo will have to use other airports to travel but all the reservations can be made through the newly formed company Air BiH."
• Three maps for demilitarization are made in Geneva.

• "Velepekara" asks for gas burners from the Medical school in order to enable another line of production of bread because its situation with oil is critical.
• Celebration of Christmas at the UNPROFOR base. The French Battalion, sings "We pray for peace in Sarajevo."
• The headquarters of UNPROFOR is shelled. General Morillon, the UNPROFOR Commander, wants to withdraw because of these events in Sarajevo. The government of BiH gives him guarantees that they will investigate the shelling.
• In Geneva on December 28th, 1992 a peace conference on the former Yugoslavia begins.
• Curfew abolished for New Year‘s celebrations.
• UNPROFOR sends a proposal to the BiH goverment that UNPROFOR can return men who try to run across the airport runway in order to flee the city. They propose to organize joint control with the BiH government over the corridor.


People of Sarajevo put daylight to maximum use. They go to sleep early in order not to use heating or electricity. They go to sleep early, because they don’t see in the dark. They go to sleep early because the curfew starts at 10 p.m. and ends at 5 a.m. They wake up at any time during the night if there is a sing that water, or electricity, has come. These moments never last too long.

Sarajevo by Night

SARAJEVO BY NIGHT means that life follows the line or the sun. Without civilization based on inventions of two Americans - Tesla, who was born in the neighborhood and who we are proud of, and Edison, who they are proud of - you have to learn to go to sleep early and to wake up early. So many evenings are spent in envy of those who have electricity. But Sarajevans have mastered the art of making kandilo, which is the light, usually hanging before an icon. To the Greeks have given the name - kandelos.
Recipe: Fill a glass jar, or a glass, half with water and a quarter with oil. Ten cut five to seven millimeters of a cork, and drag through it cotton string, or a carpet fringe, or any piece of burning material. In order for the wick to stay above the oil and burn, a tin strip of some two centimeters is used and placed above the jar. Through that strip runs the wick soaked in oil. Candles have burned long ago, even decorative ones. People who have saved petroleum lamps are very rare, and for them a liter of petroleum costs 30 DM. Batteries ran out at the beginning of the war. Still, they are being revived by cooking in salt water, five to ten minutes. They can come to life if connected to an automobile battery, if that one can be fed with electricity. All these tricks make batteries live five or six lives.
Of 1800 transformer stations in Sarajevo, more than half are out of use. To steal fuses is a regular thing. Three such fuses will cost you about 700 DM on the black market. Their real value is no more than 15 DM. Foreign currency is needed if you want to bring electricity from the station to the lobby of your house. To plug into a system, in all kinds of weird ways, is very fashionable. Another way is to run cables. You can steal the electricity from the houses which have it - on the right side of the street, and bring in to the houses which don’t on the left side. That has its price too, sometimes a deadly one. Some steal oil from the transformer stations to replace car fuel. To have a car battery in the apartment, that is a real treat. A radio can be plugged into it - and turned on ever hour, for the news. This battery is the source of light, too. Those less capable attach to it stronger bulbs and soon understand that the battery is drained too quickly. As time goes by, we all learned, and here is the advice - take the smallest bulb, like the one from the inside of a car. And carefully watch your lighter. You’ll need it, it, if not for lighting a cigarette, then surely to climb the staircases.


Electricity was a rare guest in the city. The citizens made do with car batteries, candles given by humanitarian organizations, home- made oil lamps which required small amounts of edible oil and bits of shoestring, and with a variety of more or less successful inventions. Some people used battery and the so called “SOROS” lamps which required solar energy. Although there was plenty of solar energy the lamps had little capacity and quickly broke down. In the hilly parts of the city people built mini power-generating plants. The “Elektroprivreda” building was on the front line, next to the bridge which borders with the occupied Grbavica district and it was frequently shelled.