SARAJEVO ‘SAFE HAVEN’ // 05. 1993.
JOVAN DIVJAK // DEPUTY COMMANDER OF THE ARBH HQ
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

May 1993

Jovan Divjak
Deputy commander of the BH Army HQ
SARAJEVO ‘SAFE HAVEN’

‘Concerning the fact that many warnings to the aggressor were not taken seriously, and the fact that the aggressor has specially conducted attacks, destruction, and killings in the region of Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Bihac, Tuzla, and especially after the negotiations between the BH Army and the command of Bosnian Serb forces concerning Srebrenica, the Security Council later on the UN creates a safe havens resolution. That entailed that the aggressor has to withdraw its heavy artillery on such a distance that it would not be able to induce loses on to safe havens. That is being prevented from any maneuvers with the equipment and simply in that way secures the survival of the population that was in this five cities. For Sarajevo that meant more gas, more fuel, more food. As one of the mandates set forth to the organizations, the units as part of the UN were to secure the humanitarian aid. And, as I said the first time that they did not respected the 1992 withdraw in 96 days neither have their complied with these resolutions either – the Security Council’s resolution of Sarajevo’s safe haven. The Bosnian Serb Army ignoring the warnings and threats has continued the siege while even reinforcing heavy artillery, sniping, shelling of Sarajevo and killings of the population.’

TOPIC RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS
TOPIC RELATED TEXT

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.

Dart Game

On the fifth of April, 1992, around Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had about 500,000 inhabitants, around the city in the valley of the river Miljacka surrounded by mountains which made in the host of 1984 Winter Olympics, in the very center of what was Yugoslavia, appeared: two-hundred-sixty tanks, one-hundred-twenty mortars, and innumerable anti-aircraft cannons, sniper rifles and other small arms. All of that was entrenched around the city, facing it. At any moment, from any of these spots, any of these arms can hit any target in the city. And they did hit, indeed - civilian housing, museums, churches, mosques, hospitals, cemeteries, people on the streets. Everything became a target. All exits from the city, all points of entry, were blocked.

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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