GAS IS THE KEY TO SURVIVAL// 11. 1993. • MUHAMED ZLATAR// CITY ASSEMBLY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
GAS IS THE KEY TO SURVIVAL
‘During the entire wartime we had a low pressure in the power grid due to different reasons. On the one hand there was a small amount of gas, which would come in Sarajevo. On the other hand we had those famous, primitive burners, for we did not have anything more suitable. These were simple pipes, pierced pipes because of which we lost some gas. We also lost more gas owing to the fact that there were some illegal hook-ups on the power grid. Therefore we were constantly forced to reduce the gas-supply. We tried to ensure that every consumer gets at least a minimum amount of gas, but we failed. Later on we decided to supply one day one part of the city, another day the other part.’
• 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.
Cold weather and the arrival of winter brought about new arrangements in the apartments. Chimney outlets were opened even in houses with central heating. From the basements and from the attics, from friends are acquaintances, old stoves were brought. Boiler-rooms are not working. In the absence of chimneys, people fix extra flues and stick them out of their windows. Flues are lurking on streets, smoking. Cooking still continues on the balconies, among empty flower-pots, housewives stirring the fire with newspapers. The basic stove is a tin one - furuna, made by craftsmen on Bascarsija or even by self-taught masters. Material and imagination define the form, size and the purpose (for coffee, cooking, or heating). Furuna are being sold on several markets, but only for DMs. But the major problem is fuel. You cannot buy wood or coal.
During the first summer, all dry benches, trees and wooden material were collected. This fall, parks, alleys, courtyard and cemetery trees started to fall birches, poplars, ash-trees, plane-trees, plum- trees, apple-trees, cherry-trees, pear-trees, all the way down to brushwood. Wooden backs of benches in parks were taken away, frames and doors of ruined apartments, handrails from the hallways, shelves from abandoned stores and kiosks, wooden stools and bars from restaurants, even the crosses and pyramids from the cemeteries. All bombed houses and barracks were dismantled with enviable speed. But fuel is still scarce. Those who were wise took scrap wood from their garages early in the summer. Now paper versions are being manufactured. Plastic bags, a part of US lunch packages - a leftover from the Persian Gulf War - can heat five liters of water... UNHCR supplied the city with a numerous but not sufficient thermal foils for windows. On every window, from the outside, one can read their name: UNHCR - they are the owners of our lives. November temperatures were very nice. Meteorologists have informed us they were very high, by comparison with times no one remembers any more: about 9 degrees C (Centigrade) in the apartment. It was warmer to take a walk then to sit inside. Fortunately, everyone can get warm while searching for water and wood.