MISS SARAJEVO ‘93 // 05. 1993.
SAKIB PUSKA // COMMANDER OF THE SECOND HILL BRIGADE
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

May 1993

Sakib Puska
Commander of the Second Hill Brigade
MISS SARAJEVO ‘93

‘The beauty contest was held on the 23rd of May 1993. They all agreed on that date, I mean the people at Headquarter, they decided to hold the contest in order to raise morale in the city. They came to me with a proposal. They came with a proposal for what we could do for the city. Because of how things were in the town. All of us know what it was like in Sarajevo. At that time people were being killed and there was shooting and all kinds of things were going on in this city. And I told them to go ahead and do it, to see if they could hold a beauty contest and not have it look ridiculous in such a situation. They came to me with the proposal. I remember that even Gordana Magas was here. My brigade were all for it, including the command. So we all sat down, it wasn’t just my doing, everybody cooperated so that it would be a success. People realized that the city needed something special to raise morale among the population. Something nice, something to show that life goes on here. And then we all decided that we would have it in a movie theater, I can’t remember here in the Djuro Djakovic Theater. That’s where we decided to hold it. We had the contest mainly to make the people not think so much about mortar fire and all the terrible things that had happened to us.’

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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.

Entertainment and accommodations

Tourism in Sarajevo comes down to foreign journalists and politicians. The latter ones stay in the city only for a few hours and run away. Soldiers and journalists stay longer, but are regularly replaced. Only for the people of Sarajevo is there no exit. They don’t live in shifts. Journalists are either in the Holiday Inn, or with friends who have a good basement. They travel the city in protected cars, and with obligatory bullet-proof vests. Sarajevo has numerous hotels. They are all full, except for the Bristol and Posta. They became homes for refugees. The same goes for the oldest and the most famous hotel, Evropa, in the part which has not burned. With war, the Evropa was completely emptied - of its kitchen, silverware, crystal glasses, tablecloths, paintings, furniture. Food and drinks are gone since April, too.
Guests are accepted only in the HOLIDAY INN, a hotel with two directors. One was appointed by the City Parliament, the other one by the Republic. Of course, not all of the rooms are available, for some no longer exist. During stronger shelling, guests leave their rooms and sleep collectively in the basement, armed with their cellular phones. The hotel is well supplied with alcoholic drinks and refreshments. Only there can you try the best of local couisine - big selections of Viennese and Oriental delights.
Guests are, of course, foreign journalists. There are some locals, too. These are private businessmen, merchants, people for all times and all imaginable businesses. Prices are war-like. The average menu is 50 DM per person. If ready for the black market rates, you may try to pay in the local currency. Service is decent.
At night, the hotel resembles Casablanca.
Culinary specialties are offered, since last October, in the following places:
GURMAN (Gourmet). Location: Corner of Titova and Radojke Lakic Street.
BUJRUM (Welcome). Location: Above the Cathedral, in the Vuk Karadzic Street.
KRALJICA DUNAVA (Queen of Danube). Location: Kata Govorusic Street.
KLUB NOVINARA (Journalist’s Club). Location: Pavle Goranin Street.
The selection of drinks is very limited. As for the food-aside from soup one can get cooked veal, hamburgers (domestic version is called pljeskavica). How the food actually gets there is kept as the biggest professional secret. Silent are both those who order and those who deliver. And those who eat.
There are private clubs, too. In case you have someone to take you there, look for:
MONIK: (behind the Post office at Dolac Malta)
MAZESTIK (close to jugobanka) RAGUZA (next to the main market - Markale)
JEZ (neighborhood of the seat of the Yugoslav People’s Army)
Modern, prewar life of cafes, in which mingled the youth of the city, and its business circles... Good music, excellent coffee, whiskey, home-made brandy. Since November they re-emerged, protected with thick slabs and UNHCR foils, with generators for their own electricity. Their names: Bugatti, Piere, Stefanel, Charlie, Sky, Indi, Holland, 501, S.O.S., GoGo, Tvin...They start working at 11 a.m. and close at nightfall. Some work until the curfew-visit only if you have a friend who knows the city well. Some are open as long as there are guests. All are armed.
There are places where you can gamble, playing cards. It is convenient for foreigners - payment is in hard currency anyway. One shouldn’t have too much self-confidence. Sarajevo gamblers cannot reach Italy or Cote de Azure any more. Their skilled passion has to be fulfilled here.

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