NO WATER, NO GAS, NO ELECTRICITY… // 06. 1993.
IRFAN DURMIC // DIRECTOR OF THE ELECTRIC COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

June 1993

Irfan Durmic
Director of the Electric Company
NO WATER, NO GAS, NO ELECTRICITY…

‘That was the time when we were left completely without electrical power and that was the period from June to August. If I remember correctly from June 16 to August 23. All in all 53 days without electricity. Not only was it the longest period in our city but it must be a world record and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone to have to break it.’

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JUNE 1993


• Bosnian Serb offensive against Gorazde.


• Massacre at a playing field in Dobrinja. 13 people are killed.


• Dobrica Cosic, President of the Yugoslav government, is relieved of duty.
• Moscow: BH Consul Ibrahim Djikic addresses Moscow’s biased behavior. He is contacted by the head of a Russian center for recruiting mercenaries, who promises to withdraw his men from BiH if the bodies of the three Russian mercenaries who had been killed in combat around Visegrad are retrieved.


• Mustafa Pamuk, of the City Assembly : “Many entrepreneurs have left with the intention of securing a means of getting food into the city; none of them have returned.”


• Viktor Jakovich becomes the first American ambassador to BiH.
• New York, June 5, 1993. The UN Security Council adopts a resolution on the creation of “Safe Areas.” According to this resolution, Sarajevo, Zepa, Bihac, Tuzla, Gorazde and Srebrenica are proclaimed secure areas. Members of UNPROFOR will be authorized to retaliate for any attacks on the “Safe Areas”; to monitor ceasefires; to encourage the withdrawal of military and paramilitary units; as well as to take hold of certain positions. With this resolution UNPROFOR is authorized to defend itself using any necessary measures, including the use of force, as well as to retaliate for the bombing of the “safe areas,” and any obstruction to its own freedom of movement and that of humanitarian convoys. UN members, in this case NATO members, are authorized, in cooperation with UNPROFOR and the Secretary General, to use air power to protect the “safe areas” and the mandate of UNPROFOR.


• Croats increase pressure on the Catholic Archbishop Vinko Puljic to leave Sarajevo.


• Rasim Delic appointed Commander of the ARBiH Main Staff, replacing Sefer Halilović, previous commander of the ARBiH. The head of MUP, Jusuf Pusina, is dismissed and replaced by Bakir Alispahic.


• Klaus Kinkel, German Foreign Minister: “Sanctions should be introduced against Croatia.”


• U.S. Marines enter Somalia, to prevent the spread of the conflict.


• In Geneva a joint session is held of the Presidency of BiH.


• To a question on possible military intervention in Bosnia, U.S. President Bill Clinton replies: “I can’t without allies, but I haven’t changed my mind.”
• The Bosnian Serb Army fires on people praying at a funeral. Eight people are killed at Budakovic cemetery. Mesihat: “It’s only possible to hold funerals at night.”


• Statement from Croatia: “Bosnian politicians must announce their arrivals to Croatia in advance. Visits of a private nature will not be allowed."


• Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic suggest a new map for Bosnia and Herzegovina.


• Geneva, June 18, 1993. Peace negotiations in Geneva: Alija Izetbegovic, President of the Presidency of BiH rejects the peace plan.
• Athletes travelling to the Mediterreanean Games in Montpelier are stopped in Jablanica. Twenty athletes manage to get through.


• Bill Clinton wishes for an intact BiH, “…but if they agree otherwise, we will accept it.”


• The Children’s Embassy celebrates its second year with acrobatics, rock and roll, songs, contests and games.
• New York, June 20, 1993. The UN adopts a new resolution implementing the protection of the “safe areas.” The UN Security Council, with the key provisions of Resolution 844, "decide to authorize an increase of UNPROFOR forces in order to meet the UN Secretary General’s report on engaging 7,500 new soldiers.


• Geneva: Lord Owen announces: “Our biggest problem is how to coax the Muslims into continuing negotiations.”


• President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, returns to Sarajevo from negotiations in Geneva. Other members of the presidency remain in Geneva to see what it will offer. After fifteen months Abdic, Lazovic, Lasic, Akmadzic, and Boras meet for the first time.


• Transmission lines are destroyed, power plants lack materials, the hydroelecrtic plant is held by the HVO and gas is at the mercy of the Bosnian Serb. There is neither water nor electricity.


• Head Commander of UNPROFOR General Morillon is dismissed.


• Members of the BH Presidency Alija Izetbegovic and Ejup Ganic will not travel to Geneva to continue negotiations because of urgent business. The other members of the Presidency are expected to return from Zagreb.
• The team behind the song entry for “Eurovision 93” sprint across the airport runway in order to reach the competition.


• A fashion show is held at the Hotel “Holiday inn”. The fashion collection is made from UNHCR bags and tarpaulins used to cover broken windows.
• The U.S. bombs Baghdad.
• Pavarotti sings in Central Park in New York.


• Various members of the Presidency of BiH discuss the partitioning of BiH at a meeting held at Sarajevo airport.
• At a session of the UN Security Council a suggestion by Islamic and non-aligned countries to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia and Herzegovina is rejected. The U.S. votes in favor; France, the U.K. and Russia against.
• Dr Bakir Nakas, a physician from the state hospital in Sarajevo: “This year was easier, though it was still terribly difficult. I know what I have, and what I can expect,what I have at my disposal and how long it’s going to last.”

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.

THE “ELEKTROPRIVREDA” BUILDING

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.

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