‘WE MUST SAVE THE PEOPLE, WE WILL OPEN A CORRIDOR THROUGH THE SERBIA, IF WE CAN’T THROUGH CROATIA!’// 11. 1993. • STJEPAN KLJUJIC// MEMBER OF THE BH PRESIDENCY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Member of the BH Presidency
‘WE MUST SAVE THE PEOPLE, WE WILL OPEN A CORRIDOR THROUGH THE SERBIA, IF WE CAN’T THROUGH CROATIA!’
‘On 3 Nov ’93, at a meeting of the Presidency I proposed that we should trade with black Gypsies and with Serbia if we needed to import food to keep people alive. The situation in Bosnia was catastrophic. There was terrible hunger. The only people who could get work were those who had connections. Later developments showed that all three Mafia groups were working together and that nationality and aggression and statehood played no part at all. I was so insistent that I urged that if need be we should trade with Serbia if that meant to keep alive. In the first place this was in answer to Boban and some of his people who put a stop to traffic. And also against some local power brokers who stockpiled things and didn’t want to sell them - and certainly not for the normal price. The whole situation was made worse by UNPROFOR who were mainly engaged in black marketing. The situation at that time was incredibly difficult. Coffee 120 marks, naphtha 30, sugar 60, oil 60. Sarajevo was hostage to all enemies of Bosnia, including those who presented themselves to the world as friends. Including some powerful people here. That’s why I was so insistent in urging breaking the blockade to get the people food.’
• The French UN battalion helps residents of Alipasino polje with repairs, house painting, expelling water from their basements, and bringing materials for the supply of gas.
• Death of the great Italian director Federico Fellini.
• ARBiH in conflict with the troops of Fikret Abdic in the area of Velika Kladusa.
• For weeks the city is without electricity, water, gas and humanitarian aid. The situation is worsened by the BiH delegation’s refusal to sign the peace agreement.
• The First Corps of the ARBiH issues a decision to abolish the HVO General Headquarters in Sarajevo, integrating the HVO brigade “Kralj Tvrtko” into the ARBiH 1st Corps. George Soros visits Sarajevo.
• George Soros visits Sarajevo.
• The HVO destroys the old bridge in Mostar.
• Massacre of students in Sarajevo. Classes are suspended until security measures are introduced
• UNPROFOR discontinues its service of accepting and sending letters on behalf of Sarajevans. In Split, 50 sacks of letters addressed to the people of Sarajevo are thrown into the sea.
• Another massacre of the citizens of Sarajevo.
• Presidency member Ejup Ganic refuses to receive Thorvald Stoltenberg.
• On the occasion of the massacre, American President Bill Clinton states: “The only thing we can do, if Sarajevo is shelled heavily is to receive approval by the UN for NATO and the U.S. to use airstrikes.”
• Rules introduced for the holding of classes: school sessions last 15 minutes. From December 24th till March 1st the students will have a break. Regardless there is no heating.
• Exhibition of the Sarajevan paintings “Witnesses of Existence” at the BiH Art Gallery.
• U.S. Embassy on November 10th relocates to Vienna.
• A joint declaration signed on the free movement of humanitarian convoys.
• A convoy carrying food for Sarajevo from Macedonia is held up because of ice and snow on Vlasenica. It consists of around 20 trucks. The Children’s Embassy appeals to UNPROFOR for aid.
• Symposium held on war medicine: “Medicine during War '92-'93”.
• A package arrives in Sarajevo of 960,000 candles from the Czech Republic worth about $48,000.
• The convoy of food from Macedonia is stopped in Pale.
• In Geneva, negotiations continue.
200 DM for 1 cubic mater of wood, but you have to pay 50 DM more for the delivery.
170 DM for a bottle of whiskey, or of French cognac.
120 DM for a kilo of garlic.
100 DM for a hare (white, weighing about 3 kilos), or 1 kilo of dried meat.
40 DM - for this you can get 10 packs of cigarettes, or 1 liter of oil, or 1 kilo of beans, or
children’s bicycle, or 1 can of fish and 1 can of pate, or 1 lunch package, or half a kilo of tobacco.
30 DM for a wool sweater (hand made) or 1 jar of fat.
20 DM for 1 kilo of onions, or 2 kilos of cabbage, or a big pumpkin.
10 DM is the price of four batteries of 1,5 V, or of 5 liters of water - at all times except the summer.
Then the price of 5 liters of water raises to 30 DM.
3 DM for a chocolate bar, or a bunch of parsley. A circular saw is worth as much as seven kilos onions. One liter of milk is between 2,5 and 5 DM, but can be gotten for a pack of cigarettes. This is the best exchange between babies and smokers known in history.
What functions best is bartering. For two kilos of raw coffee, you can get a propane gas bottle of 12 kilos. A package of antibiotics is worth two local phone-calls. For a liter of cooking oil you can get a carton of cigarettes and a liter of cheap liquor, or three liters of cherry-syrup. For two liters of oil you can wear almost new Reeboks. A used male winter jacket costs 3 kilos of onions. A once-standard package of 18 kilos of paint is being exchanged for any kind and amount of food. 10 liters of oil, the amount which supplies energy for the two-hour shooting of a TV broadcast about the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is exchanged for 12 cans which supply energy for your private survival.
In handwritten ads on Tito’s street, one finds supply and demand ranging from gas stoves, jackets, shoes to messages such is this: “I am looking for a woman to help me survive the winter.”
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.