THE KEYBOARD IS SIBERIAN COLD // 08. 1993.
NEDA STANKOVIC // PROFESSOR AT THE MUSIC ACADEMY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

August 1993

Neda Stankovic
Professor at the Music Academy
THE KEYBOARD IS SIBERIAN COLD

‘I don't remember I cannot tell myself how we managed to go to the Music School, because it was almost impossible. Mortar shells blew my apartment away, so we could not work there. We were troubled by the shelling, the coldness, by the cold piano keys that were our basic occupation, black and white piano keys that we adored but that were cold as a Siberian winter. Sometimes some of my students would bring firewood, and some of the students would run around to keep warm. We would all get wet feet during our trips to Alipasino Polje, but the music kept us alive. It was our ultimate joy. But the greatest thing was when we performed in public. All musical events took place at the Chamber Theatre 55, in a dark cold room lit by candles, and we played on badly conditioned instruments. But my students played with pleasure, and so did I. The best thing was that the audience attended concerts with pleasure. The concerts were held in the afternoon, not in the evening, as they would be normally. People would come to this oasis of peace and they enjoyed it. We were able to feel that, we felt that the audience was together with us and we were honored that they came and risked their lives to be in that temple of art.’

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AUGUST 1993


• The Association of Pensioners sends a letter to embassies in 30 countries asking them for help in surviving this most tragic, difficult of periods.


• Geneva: Bosnian Serbs are willing to give up 22% of the territory of BiH, while they currently control 72%; of what remains, 29% would go to the Muslims, and 21% to the Croats.
• Bill Clinton, U.S. president: “We can undertake nothing without the consent of our allies.”


• The BH delegation establishes this condition for the continuation of negotiations in Geneva: the Bosnian Serbs must withdraw from Bjelasnica, a mountain above Sarajevo, by 5pm.
• The market has its own logic. Prices invariably correspond to the arrival of humanitarian aid, the disappearance of electricity and gas; the distribution of cigarettes to soldiers; and political events.


• City library of Sarajevo: “We have more readers than ever, but 130,000 books were destroyed, as well as part of the archives and our technical equipment.”
• The Bosnian Serb Army introduces air-bomb attacks on the city.


• NATO is ready for airstrikes. Warren Christopher and Manfred Woerner reach an agreement. Colin Powell: “Bosnia needs a political solution to end the killing.”


• Premier of the play “Alkestis”.


• NATO unanimously adopts a plan for air strikes on Serb positions around Sarajevo. Now it is up to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary General. UNPROFOR needs to set up at the Serb positions on Mt. Igman.
• Thieves from Sarajevo steal 100,000 liters of oil from a transformer station, which it needed to operate. Mayor Kresevljakovic proposes the death penalty for such crimes.
• The sounds of a piano echo in the city’s deserted streets. Alma, a student at the Music Academy, walks there and in the afternoon practices at her own home.


• No sign of a Bosnian Serb withdrawal from Mt. Igman. Boutros Boutros-Ghali: “The decision on airstrikes can only be made by the UN Security Council.”


• The Bosnian Serbs are given a deadline for their withdrawal from Igman and Bjelasnica, so that peace negotiations can continue in Geneva. If they do not withdraw, NATO will launch airstrikes.
• Prices on the market: peppers go from 35 to 40 DM.
• Warren Christopher: “Breaking the siege of Sarajevo is in the U.S. national interest.”
• Geneva, Radovan Karadzic: “If they strike, the Serbs will start a nuclear war.”
• Part of the “Mir” convoy arrives in Sarajevo. On the Split-Sarajevo road, everything is taken from them. A concert for the pacifists under the name “Dry your tears, Sarajevo sings”.


• Pacifists leave the city.


• Five cisterns of oil arrive in the city.


• The Bosnian Serb Army leaves its positions on Igman and Bjelasnica, burning and looting hotels, bungalows, houses and woods.
• Watermelons from Serbia appear at the market.
• A young girl, Irma Hadzimuratovic, is hit by sniper fire. Under great international pressure she is transported to England for treatment.
• Geneva: Alija Izetbegovic announces: “We accept the division imposed by the West. The world is not ready for military intervention. We must no longer base our actions on those presumptions.”
• Actor Admir Glamocak, who acts in the play “Waiting for Godot”, loses 2 kg between every performance. The play is put on by candlelight.
• Sales begin of “Tahebo” tea in the city.


• Geneva, August 17, 1993. Peace negotiations in Geneva: Alija Izetbegovic demands access to the sea and at least 40% of the territory.
• Departure of the Bosnian Serb Army from Igman, which the world media interprets as the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo.
Brigadier UNPROFOR, Haze: “Humanitarian aid has been blockaded from Sarajevo because of the Muslim offensive in Gornji Vakuf.”
Bosnian Serbs: “Sarajevo has never been under siege.”
Fruer: “Sarajevo is no longer besieged, but surrounded by an army.”
Ejup Ganic, member of the Presidency of BiH: “After this statement Fruer has been deemed a persona non grata.”
• Football match played between SARAJEVO- UNPROFOR. Final score: 9 - 5.


• Geneva, August 18, 1993. Peace negotiations in Geneva: Three delegations make recommendations on the status of Sarajevo.
• The Ministry of Education in Sarajevo tells the city’s inhabitants: “The textbooks have been prepared, but we lack the materials for printing them.”


• The Bosnian Serb Assembly weighs over a plan on the division of BiH. Karadzic warns the BiH government to unconditionally accept the proposed division of the country or face military defeat.
• Ivo Komsic, president of the HSS: “Bosnia has no allies, only verbal support, no one has actually helped. Advisors came to the Serbs and Croats, primary individuals from countries on the Security Council.”
• Herzeg-Bosnia proclaimed in Livno.


• Russia shuts off its gas supply to Bosnia over unpaid bills. Hungary is prepared to deliver 10,000 cubic meters of natural gas an hour from its own supplies.
• At a meeting of the Presidency of BiH a decision is made on the movement of convoys. Already for eight months, people have been waiting with their suitcases packed for a signal for departure. Eighty-seven of them die while waiting..


• New York, August 26, 1993.
The UN Security Council adopts resolution 859, reaffirming the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Republic of BiH
The Security Council confirms that the solution to the conflict in the Republic of BiH must conform to the UN charter and principles of international law. It further affirms the continuing relevance in this context of:
a) the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
b) the fact that neither a change in the name of the State nor changes regarding the internal organization of the State such as those contained in the constitutional agreement annexed to the Co-Chairmen's report would affect the continued membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the United Nations;
c) the principles adopted by the London International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, including the need for a cessation of hostilities, the principle of a negotiated solution freely arrived at, and the unacceptability of the acquisition of territory by force or by 'ethnic cleansing' and the right of refugees and others who have suffered losses to compensation in accordance with the statement on Bosnia adopted by the London Conference;
d) recognition and respect for the right of all displaced persons to return in their homes in safety and honour;
e) the maintenance of Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a united city and a mulicultural, multi-ethnic and pluri-religious centre.


• Alain Little, BBC reporter: “In Geneva their signature marks surrender, but there’s no other way out for the Bosnian people. Their surrender has been dictated by the international community.”

Cultural survival

The besieged city defends itself by culture and thus survives. Groups and individuals create whatever they used to create before the siege In impossible circumstances they produce films, write books, publish newspapers, produce radio programs, design postcards, stage exhibitions, performances, make blueprints for rebuilding the city, found new banks, organize fashion shows, shoot photographs, celebrate holidays, put on make up... Sarajevo is the city of the future and of the life in the post-cataclysm. In it on the ruins of the old civilization a new one is sprouting, an alternative one, composed of remains of urban elements Sarajevo lives a life of futuristic comics and science fiction movies.

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