THE CITY IS DIVIDED // 02. 1993.
ADIL KULENOVIC // STUDIO 99
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

February 1993

Adil Kulenovic
Studio 99
THE CITY IS DIVIDED

‘Vance-Owen’s mediator came to town on 8 February 1993, and we knew that something was up. Of course, as reporters we couldn’t immediately guess what was going on, because politicians always use general phrases, and a person never knows the practical measures. Then an SDA official came to Studio 99, who was obviously a liberal and who was also a native of Sarajevo, and he told us, gave us inside information, that there really was a plan to divide Sarajevo, with maps, places where the dividing line would run. This means, to turn Sarajevo into a New Berlin, with a New Berlin wall. We therefore had completely reliable information, and I saw all those maps personally, of course, I couldn’t lay my hands on a document, but I was completely sure there was a plan to divide Sarajevo. We immediately broadcast this in our program; told our viewers, at that time they were our listeners, Studio 99. Vehement reaction followed. In the first place from people who were absolutely against the idea, and on the other hand also from the political establishment who denied that there was any such idea. A statement was even issued from President Izetbegovic’s office saying that Studio 99 was alarming the public, that this was not reliable and true information. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also issued a statement repeating that Studio 99 was alarming the public. However, we were completely sure of the reliability of our information, and in the next 24 hours we continued to work without leaving the studio so that we, perhaps, escaped being imprisoned for alarming the public. Next day, on February 9, the Sarajevo Mayor Kresevljakovic held a press conference and answered the direct question of a Studio 99 reporter about whether there had been talk of division, affirmatively.’

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FEBRUARY 1993


• The Geneva negotiations move to New York.
• Sarajevo is surrounded by five rings :
1. The Bosnian Serb Army 2.The UN 3. The HVO 4. The black market 5. The current government


• The Bosnian Serbs shell mourning processions, funerals and hospitals in Sarajevo.
• Vinko Puljic, head of the Catholic church in BiH, meets with the Pope. From Sarajevo he conveys the Pope’s message to the world: “Stop the savagery, let humanity prevail!”


• Lord Robert Owen comes out against the USA, who had rejected a plan that favored the Bosnian Serbs.
• SUBNOR, an association of soldiers from the Second World War, makes an appeal to its members to fight against facism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and for communal life.
• Advice to patients: If you go to the clinic, bring a log, because the heating situation is critical.


• The city is struck by wartime hyperinflation .
• The International Center for Peace receives representatives from the Helsinki Citizens Forum from France who need to monitor the situation in Sarajevo, and then report to the European and world public whether civil society exists in Sarajevo.


• The UNHCR suspends flights.
• High schools begin to operate at neighborhood council centers, business premises, apartments.
• Radio “Studio 99” reports news on the division of the city. Panicked listeners contact the program. Vance-Owen mediators are in the city; this information originates from them.


• Killed and wounded lay on the airport runway. During the run across the tarmac UNPROFOR reflect lights on it, giving Bosnian Serbs the chance to aim at the moving target. Afterward UN procedures are followed – those caught are placed in UN vehicles and the blue-helmets take them back to wherever they came from.


• The best sportsmen are announced for BiH in '92: chess players Vesna Basagic and Ivan Sokolov.


• The City Assembly decides that Sarajevans, in a gesture of solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Bosnia, will not accept humanitarian aid until a humanitarian convoy reaches Eastern Bosnia.


• The first wartime cinema opens, “Obala”. Screenings are held in Sarajevo basements.
• Because of the city government’s refusal to accept humanitarian aid, supplies are left lying on the airport runway. Pilots refuse to land because of the piles of undelivered food.


• “Oslobodjenje” is visited by Bianca Jagger.
• The UNHCR decides in Geneva: Government officials cannot be transported on UN planes. The previous month, Geneva had approved local reporters’ use of UN planes from the besieged city.
• The Civil Defense requests two containers from the city authorities to protect Sarajevans from snipers at intersections. The Civil Defense is unable to tow them because they have no fuel.


• Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), halts humanitarian aid to BiH, while the executive council sticks to its decision to refuse humanitarian aid out of solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Bosnia. Once this decision is reversed the air bridge is reestablished.
• New York, February 20, 1993. The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a new resolution extending the mandate of the 13,000 blue-helmets in Croatia. This resolution provides for the temporary extension of the UN mandate through March 31st. Resolution 807 urges the UN Secretary General to provide additional arms in order to enhance defense capabilities and allows the use of arms in the event of an attack on the peacekeepers, under paragraph 7 of the UN Charter. In addition, the temporary extension of the mandate includes the same tasks as the previous two terms, meaning the neutralization of heavy arms and the corresponding withdrawal of warring sides.


• “Oslobodjenje” proclaimed the world’s newspaper of the year.
• The information blockade of TVBiH is broken – the programming includes Studio Zenica live during the TV news.


• At gatherings across the world, amid protests against the impotence of the EC and UN to halt the bloody aggression in Bosnia, posters appear: “In Bosnia, Europe dies”.
• New York, February 22, 1993. The UN Security Council adopts a new resolution on the formation of an international court for war crimes within the territory of the former Yugoslavia. According to the text of the resolution, all war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia from the first of January 1991 will be reviewed. All those charged with war crimes, mass killings and rapes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity will be brought before this court.
• The executive council of the city halts the boycott of humanitarian aid.
• The “Alsace shipment” arrives in Sarajevo. It is at the time the largest humanitarian convoy to arrive in Sarajevo.


News

The only papers you can buy during the siege are OSLOBODJENJE and VECERNJE NOVINE Once upon a time, OSLOBODJENJE had a format like the Times or Frankfurter Allgemeine. It had thirty-two, twenty- four or sixteen pages. Since June of 1991, its size started to diminish. Now it is of a mini-format, with eight or, more often, four pages. People who sell it are the journalists themselves - between 7:30 and 9:00 a.m. Due to the shortage of paper, editions came down to 10,000 copies. After November 1992, they came down to 5,000, which makes the time of distribution no longer then twenty minutes. Stronger readers seem to be winning. Radio Bosnia and Herzegovina, Studio Sarajevo, is broadcasting 24 hours a day. When there is electricity, one listens to more than just news. The news is broadcast every hour and everyone is waiting for it. Television today is no more than a few informative broadcasts, live programs and a press-conference held daily in the International Press Center.

Radio

The independent radio station „Radio Zid“ (Wall) founded and managed by Zdravko Grebo, is a station concerned with propagating an urban mentality. To be urban in Sarajevo means to participate in Sarajevo as an urban community. The station addresses itself primarily to the people who constitute the urban population but it also tries to create and educate such audience. It transmits around the clock.
„Radio 99“, managed by Adil Kulenović, is privately owned radio station which gained its popularity during the war. It brings together young journalists and those who were not journalists before the war, but became attracted by the spirit of civil resistance.
The station operates from a basement and is powered by a battery.
The troupe „Surrealists“ was one of the most popular satirical comedy troupes in the former Yugoslavia. They have a show „Microphone on Duty“, produced by Boro Kontić, on the Radio Sarajevo First Program. Their satire on the radio, transmitted every Sunday, is a smash hit with a society at war. „Mustering up humour in the face of death and despair has been an antidote for the war. Members of the comedy troupe Surrealist Hit Parade are applying the medicine in Sarajevo, lobbing barbs on the radio while all around them shells are falling“

(The New York Times, July 6, 1993).

Adil Kulenovic
He was born on November 15, 1949 in Bihac, Bosnia. Occupation: Professor of philosophy and sociology. He published works in scientific magazines and daily and weekly newspapers. He initiated the magazine “Slobodna Bosna,” and he is one of the founders of the Association of Independent Intellectuals “Krug 99.”

THE SIEGE
He has worked as the editor-in-chief of the Independent Radio “Studio 99” since the beginning of the war. He hosts the show “Interview of the Day” in which he has interviewed during the war more than 400 public figures in Bosnia and the rest of the world. He initiated the Independent Television “99” and the magazine “Free Thoughts 99.” He is one of the initiators of the Declaration on a Free and United Sarajevo, signed by over 180,000 Sarajevans and more than 100,000 people outside of Bosnia.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
In the same shape I am in now.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
To be on a path toward a goal that is being achieved.

What is you biggest loss?
Naiveness, I don’t live with my children.

What is your biggest gain?
The disappearance of taboo, the feeling of freedom.

When and where were you happiest?
In February 1993 on the Sarajevo airport when I first left and came.

What are your lost illusions?
That I know people.

Describe your day at work.
Between 8 and 9 I get up with the first phone calls. Between 9 and 10 the disgusting morning shaving. Between 10 and 14 at least 50 different conversations and contacts. From 14 to 17 conversations, plans for the next day and the analysis of the previous. From 17 to 19 the interview of the day with personalities. From 21 to 23 listening to news and reading of the paper. From 23 to 1 finally for myself, reading and writing.

Sarajevo?
The truth of the modern European civilization.

What words don’t you use anymore?
General well-being, collective interests, people are always right.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Morale is, unfortunately, a cry of the helpless.

Where would you like to live?
Still in Sarajevo.

How have you survived?
Persistence, risk, luck.

What are you afraid of?
Of weakness to resist something.

Does the past exist for you?
Yes, like a nice dream from the previous life.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
Orwell was right.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
Work on the move.

How would you like to die?
While on the move.

Do you need hope to live?
Hope is one of the conditions for survival.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
In 1992 I believed in the world of human rights, in 1993, I thought that the world powers will decide upon our fate, in 1994, I thought that force and violence are only lasting factor that determines history.

How would you call this period of your life?
A period of maturing.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
A rebellion is the only true condition when a man is worth freedom.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
Yes, I do love it. Life is when you are thrown into the world without sense and goal, and when the individual bas to make it work.

THE BORDERS

Apart from the trenches which were used for fighting there were many trenches within the city which served primarily the civilian population. By using those labyrinths between buildings the citizens were protected against sniper fire when going to fetch water, when going to work or to meet each.

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