THE AIRPORT IS SHUT DOWN // 12. 1992.
MUHAMED ZLATAR // CITY ASSEMBLY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

December 1992

Muhamed Zlatar
City Assembly
THE AIRPORT IS SHUT DOWN

‘It was a very difficult month. A winter time. One of the most difficult problem was a shortage of all power-supplies. The city was entirely rounded up. Those who rounded up the city were trying to close all the paths; they wanted to raise a total blockade around the city. I used to say that if they were able to shut the air, they would have done it.’

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DECEMBER 1992


• 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.

Airport runway

Crossing the airport runway...It is necessary to cross the barricade which blocks the neighborhood of Dobrinja. You need a dark night. Wounded, or those who look like that, are taken by car. The control procedure of the Blue Helmets is very kind. With a financial agreement, one can pass in the first try. The airport runway is the only city promenade. True, in one night, the Blue Helmets may return no less than 260 people, but one can do it somehow. The attempt to run costs between 100 and 200 DM. Still, there are some tips to be remembered. The runway is equipped with photo-cells and sensors which detect anyone who might be walking by. This trap, installed by UNPROFOR, may surprise you with alarms or spotlights which go on immediately after you are spotted. Different divisions of the UN force - the Blue Helmets - react in accordance with their national, regional and personal sense of humor. The French are amused by our wit. Ukrainians are made nervous by our stubbornness, but they can be talked into a deal. The best guys are the Egyptians. They are running after the old lady who is smuggling a carton of bananas from Hrasnica to Dobrinja. They forgive the guy who is running with crutches. One such guy was forced to return no less then eight times: the ninth time he wrote his own obituary in French. Since the French have respect for the dead, he left the city on the air-transport. All sides catch smugglers, but also those who manage to crawl across half the runway. In short, the journey is hard, but once the basics are completed, and you are on the right side, everything is a matter of superstructure - skill, papers, money. It is no secret that for 1000 to 2000 DM one can fly out on a humanitarian aid plane. The only drawback is that there are no guarantees at which airport you are going to land.

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