May 1993

Mirsad Brajlovic
The Electric Company

‘As soon as some places got electric power, the people, how shall I say, tried to get to that power especially in those wartime circumstances when it was impossible to have full control over the network, especially during night hours. So those priority places were exploited and secret cables were attached either above the ground or below.’


MAY 1993

• The first international wedding is announced in Sarajevo. The wedding cake is made from potatoes. The groom, Stephen Peterson, a UN employee, says: “I have a wife, Zorica, we’re renting a house in Sarajevo, we have a garden, our own plums, we even have a dog.”
• Athens, May 1, 1993. A two-day conference on BiH begins in Athens. The co-chairs of the peace conference are Cyrus Vance and Lord David Owen. Present at the meeting are: Alija Izetbegovic, Franjo Tudjman, Slobodan Milosevic, Momir Bulatovic, Mate Boban and Radovan Karadzic. Haris Silajdzic, the Foreign Minister of BiH, announces: “The Serbs are buying time by coming to Athens.” Before Athens, General Morillon shows Alija Izetbegovic corrections to the map agreed upon in Geneva. Izetbegovic refuses to discuss the corrections. In Athens, Radovan Karadzic signs an agreement on the condition that the Bosnian Serb Assembly approves it. Alija Izetbegovic: “This signature is a great victory for our country.”

• Officially Washington will not rule out military intervention if the Serbs continue as before.
• MUP Sarajevo issues the proclamation: “If you come across unexploded shells call 985.”

• The textile firm “Alhos” clads BiH athletes at the Mediterranean Games in Montpelier.

• The Bosnian Serb Army launches an offensive against Yepa Alija Izetbegovic requests that Zepa immediately be placed under UN protection. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees recommends that a UNHCR convoy be sent in without the armed protection of UNPROFOR, as this would not provoke the Bosnian Serbs, while if the Bosnian Serbs did stop the convoy they could negotiate for peace.
• The City Assembly appeals to the world for food assistance.
• Drugs enter the city from Posusje, Zenica and Split.
• The Swimming Association of BiH holds a promotion with the aim of raising awareness among citizens on the importance of swimming with the construction of a Sarajevo swimming pool.

• U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher embarks on a trip to Europe.
• The Bosnian Serb Assembly sets nine conditions for the UN. The deadline now is three weeks.
• The first wartime kindergarten is opened in Alipasino polje.

• The Bosnian Serb assembly rejects the peace plan. The Serbian government announces the suspension of all humanitarian aid to the Bosnian Serbs after their reckless voting.
• The “Hare-Krisna” festival begins, a wartime peace festival, with traditional music, Swedish drama and lectures.

• A meeting is held between General Morillon and Alija Izetbegovic. General Morillon: “If we or any other UN Safe Zone is attacked, we have the right and the duty to return fire.”
• The Bosnian Serbs hold a referendum. Russia supports this decision. Madeleine Albright, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, isn’t ready to support the decision, believing it a trick by the Serbs to buy time to win further territory. U.S. President Bill Clinton announces: “Ethnic cleansing is savage cynicism, an outrage to the world’s conscience and our standards of conduct.”

• Former Yugoslav Premier, communist hardliner and president of the Olympic Committee of BiH, Branko Mikulic, sends a letter to the President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch: “Our thinking about the future is an act of defiance in itself. We will not be crushed!”
• The director of Kamerni teatar 55, Gradimir Gojer, makes an appeal to dramatic artists across the world to halt performances and bring attention to the birth of fascism in the Balkans.
• Haris Silajdzic formally requests the withdrawal of UNPROFOR personnel from BiH out of concern for the safety of UN soldiers and their impediment to the defense of sovereign countries.
• NATO holds exercises on the issue: “Responding to regional conflicts.”
• Mostar bathed in blood and flames. Fighting breaks out between the HVO and the Army of BiH. A ceasefire is reached over telephone by Alija Izetbegovic and Mate Boban. The conflict between Croats and Muslims receives greater attention from American media, and further complicates decisions on military intervention and lifting the arms embargo on BiH.
• Serbia punishes the Bosnian Serbs for their refusal to sign the peace agreement by closing the border with Bosnia for 120 km. Biljana Plavsic, one of the Bosnian Serb leaders, is sent back at the border.

• European leaders decided to wait on military intervention until the results of the Bosnian Serb referendum. Lord Owen: “Americans view Europeans as weaklings, and Europeans view Americans as cowboys.”

• A meeting of the BH government is held. They decide “Croat troops must withdraw from BiH, otherwise BiH will seek protection from aggression.”
• Bosnian Serb offensive against Brcko.
• Croat troops destroy the bridge in Bijela (Herzegovina), preventing the arrival of convoys to Sarajevo and Central Bosnia.

• Chetnik Vojvoda Vojislav Seselj announces: “In retaliation for any Italian participation in an allied campaign, we will bombard civilian targets in Italy.” France develops a plan for UN “Safe Zones.”
• General Ratko Mladic, Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, on the possibility of military intervention, announces: “In the case of intervention, Washington will suffer bomb attacks in its large cities. Serb immigrants will carry those attacks out. No foreign soldier that comes to Bosnia will come out alive.”

• Smuggling at the airport runway thrives: one crossing with 10kg of food can earn 1,000DM.

• At the Sarajevo airport HVO and Bosnian Serb representatives meet, without the knowledge of the Army of BiH, an example of their open collaboration.
• Josip Magdic, a Sarajevan composer, promotes “Wartime notes 92”, through the Croat Cultural Society “Napredak”.
• Kamerni teatar 55 holds a performance of “A Prayer for Peace”. They perform the composition “Ave Maria”.
• The “Miss City Under Siege” is selected, Inela Nogic.
• News from “Bosnalijek”: pharmacist Saša Pilipovic produces a drug that had run out - Dexamethasone. Infusion solutions are manufactured.

• Only 105 dogs in the city are vaccinated against rabies.
• Theatre blossoms in the city.
• Pest exterminations are carried out in the city.

• Military patrols of the Army of the Republic of BiH (ARBiH) hold control over the streets. Whoever lacks the necessary paperwork is summoned immediately to the army and placed in a unit.

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.