REVIVING THE BENTBASA // 04. 1993.
FERHAT GURDA // THE OLD TOWN MUNICIPALITY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

April 1993

Ferhat Gurda
The Old Town Municipality
REVIVING THE BENTBASA

‘We had the opinion that the elaboration of the project documentation was a predominant factor for the inevitable restoration after such a horrible war. Sarajevo should have a closer sports area, closer than Ilidza and Zetra. Therefore, according to these criteria, that place was at an advantage. Before the decision about the regulative plan was made, experts did an elaboration on various environmental, historical, biological and other characteristics of that place. In spite of the difficult circumstances, people got down to work on that project very seriously.’

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APRIL 1993


• Kosevsko cemetery is reopened after 27 years due to the lack of space for the burials of victims of snipers and shells.
• New York, April 1, 1993. The UN Security Council passes a resolution approving the use of force in enforcing a no-fly zone over BiH. At the insistence of the Russian delegation, a paragraph in the resolution is modified so that the use of force applies only to air and not ground targets.


• Cyrus Vance withdraws from his role as mediator in the peace negotiations over BiH. He is succeeded by Thorvald Stoltenberg.
• PTT reaches an agreement with UNHCR on sending and receiving letters through its weekly humanitarian flights on the Sarajevo-Split route.


• The Bosnian Serb Parliament rejects the Vance-Owen plan. The EC gives them a new deadline, April 15th, to accept the plan.


• In Sarajevo the Jewish holiday of Passover is celebrated.


• 5,000,000 copies of “Oslobodjenje” are released over several continents.


• In the midst of an offensive by Bosnian Serbs on Srebrenica the international community proposes stronger pressure on the Serbs.


• UNHCR report on the airport runway: six killed while crossing.
• The PTT secures a satellite telephone exchange but cannot transport it into the city.
• In the city business spaces are stolen so that cafes and pubs can be opened. This is the most sought after asset on the market in the besieged city.


• Susan Sontag arrives to Sarajevo and meets with artists and intellectuals.


• George Soros’ foundation establishes a satellite telephone exchange for communication between Sarajevo and the outside world, through America.
• MUP establishes a new traffic system due to the large number of snipers on Strahimir Kranjcevic street.
• Joan Baez comes to Sarajevo. Her arrival is part of a campaign to bring world-famous people to Sarajevo to bear witness on behalf of the world to the fate of a European city at the end of the 20th century.
• Start of the Easter football cup. The football club “Bosna” wins the cup, and in reward receive the cup and a box of eggs.
• In Zvornik, which is under the control of the Bosnian Serbs, Serbian women dressed in black block the arrival of humanitarian aid for Srebrenica, headed by General Morillon.


• The George Soros’ foundation” distributes 16,000 bags of seed for the citizens of Sarajevo to plant in “gardens of survival”. The municipal headquarters of the Civil Defense in Novi Grad allocates plots of arable land to citizens, but without compensation.
• Easter mass is held at the Sarajevo Cathedral.
• Dr William Wagman donates his collection of phonograph records to RTVBiH.


• In an attack by the Bosnian Serb Army in Srebrenica, hundreds are killed in Srebrenica. The UN removes General Morillon from duty.
• OSBiH Commander Sefer Halilovic sends a letter to Croatian Army generals Bobetko and Petkovic. It concerns a convoy of arms for the OSBiH, which had been blocked by HVO forces, and which were intended for the rescue of Srebrenica: “You got 25 % of the arms, by agreement, and because of that you will be complicit in the crimes against Srebrenica.”


• Islam Dzugum, a marathon runner, trains for the Mediterranean Games in Montpelier for the 25 km race.


• The transportation company “Gras” prepares for peace, with reconstruction projects on shattered Trebevic.
• New York, April 18, 1993. The UN Security Council adopts the text of a resolution declaring Srebrenica a protected zone. This decision anticipates that the aggressor forces, the Bosnian Serbs, will withdraw, while peacekeepers will assume responsibility for the defense of the civilian population.
• The Canadian UNPROFOR battalion arrives in Srebrenica. Bosnia lives from one threat to the next, from one promise to the next.
• New York, April 19, 1993.
The UN Security Council adopts a new resolution which imposes tougher sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro if by April 26th Karadzic has not signed the Vance-Owen plan. According to this resolution, the marine transport of goods to or from the SR Yugoslavia is forbidden, aside from humanitarian aid with the requisite approval of the UN Committee for Sanction. Land transport can only take place at only a limited number of road and railway border crossings, also only with the permission of the UN Committee for Sanctions. River traffic on the Danube outside of Yugoslav borders is also banned. Foreign vessels that enter through the Danube into the FR Yugoslavia must be inspected and receive approval by the UN Committee for Sanctions. Twelve miles from the Adriatic coast a sailing prohibition is imposed on the FR Yugoslavia, meaning that no ship will be able to enter its territorial waters except under extraordinary circumstances and with special permission. All funds held abroad by the FR Yugoslavia are frozen. All traffic and transport vehicles found outside the borders of the FR Yugoslavia are retained and possibly subject to confiscation if found in violation of the sanctions. The same measures also apply to transport vehicles of other countries that violate the sanctions. The resolution further prohibits financial or any other ties with the FR Yugoslavia with the exception of telecommunications, legal ties or its postal system. Services related to humanitarian assistance or any other special occurrence must be undertaken with the approval of the UN Committee for Sanctions.


• Process of demilitarization in Srebrenica. Working group meeting at the Sarajevo airport. If the Bosnian Serbs attack, the UN will protect its people.
• Start of the “Sarajevo Winter” festival.
• The HVO fires at the hydroelectric plant in Jablanica, breaking off power lines to Sarajevo.


• The HVO commits war crimes against the Muslim citizens in Central Bosnia.


• The President of the self-proclaimed state of Herzeg-Bosnia, Mate Boban, and the President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, sign a new peace agreement.
• Radovan Karadzic, leader of the SDS announces: “If tonight we decide to sign the peace plan, the Serbian people will triumph, but if we decide not to, the Serbs will triumph regardless.”


• The Bosnian Serb Assembly rejects the peace agreement. This elicits the following reactions: the Secretary General of NATO Manfred Woerner advocates bombing the Bosnian Serb Army. Russian President Boris Yeltsin announces: “The Russian Federation will not protect someone confronted by the entire world community.” The Minister of Foreign Affairs BiH, Haris Silajdzic: “We cannot expect to fight against tanks with kitchen knives.”
• In Sarajevo an initiative is undertaken to revitalize the “Bentbasa” pool. Plans are immediately drawn up.


• The sanctions against the FR Yugoslavia are carried out: its borders are closed, assets and property frozen, and control is established over traffic on the Danube.
• Lord Owen: “It’s too early to bomb the Serb positions.”


• Meeting in London: Haris Silajdzic: “Let us defend ourselves. No one has the right to deny us that.”
• Slobodan Milosevic asks Radovan Karadzic and Momcilo Krajisnik to reconsider the decision of parliament, threatening to cut off economic aid. A new meeting of the parliament is scheduled for May 5th.

Recreation

Everyone is in sports clothes, for they are warmer, more comfortable and enable you to run quicker. Most of the members of the Bosnian Armed Forces wear deep white sneakers with the logo Yugosport. Their uniform, at the beginning, consisted of jeans, masking parts, ingenious improvisations made of bright colors. Bulletproof jackets are very rare They can be found at the price of 200 DM. Citizens renew wear and footwear by moving into abandoned apartments.

Walking
Six kilometers a day-that is the average for those who don’t need to go far. Some believe it helps you to keep in good shape.

Running
That is the favorite sport, practiced by everyone in Sarajevo. All cross-roads are run through as are all the dangerous neighborhoods. One runs with stolen wood, to the line where others are standing. Something is on sale, and you will know it only when you join the line.

Rock-climbing
Urban rock-climbing is a compulsory sports discipline. Instead of adequate ropes, one uses sheets. Climbers are solving distances between balconies, from higher to the lower ones which are not yet reached by fire.

Soccer
Often played with soldiers of UNPROFOR. On the other side - Bosnian Armed Forces, police and professional city players who are still here. Games take place in the hall of the burned Skenderija. The game is hard, masculine, with lots of injuries. Foreigners lose here, as they always did.

Chess
Played on staircases, in basements and in shelters. Sometimes even in the chess club Bosna, which has a good and very expensive buffet.

Tree-cutting
An entirely new city discipline. Tools for this sport are an electric saw and axes, small and big. One gets trained by cutting, trimming, splitting and piling the wood on the balcony or in the room, where they don’t suffer so much humidity. Wood is stacked in the bedroom, hall, living room, in the next apartment whose owners have left of disappeared.

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