YASUSHI AKASHI BECOMES THE SPECIAL UN REPRESENTATIVE// 12. 1993. • HASAN MURATOVIC// MINISTER OF FORESTRY/STATE REPRESENTATIVE FOR UN RELATIONS
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Minister of Forestry/State representative for UN relations
YASUSHI AKASHI BECOMES THE SPECIAL UN REPRESENTATIVE
‘We have told him that the success of its mission depends on lifting the Sarajevo siege. Which has proven to be correct later on. We have requested that he take a stand that will speed up the resolution of the problems that may bring the end to the war. But, Akashi had its own ideas at the time, and was dedicated in implementing them later on, on so called neutrality of the UN in BH. Which proved to be one of the most disastrous policies that the UN could implement by playing a neutral party towards the fascism and towards the fight for survival, democracy, and the multiethnic society. Beside that, he immediately made his point that for him the most important is that the UNPROFOR, that is the UN personnel has to be comfortable in BH, and in order to assure that comfort he has passed on the resolution of all the problems on the war-in parties. During his later involvement there were two long periods during which we did not had any contact with him, and the end its was obvious that he has made fatal mistakes. One day I have personally called up a press conference, I have prepared a couple sentences, and the key one was ‘Akashi is dead for us!’ And all the newspapers have published that.’
• Peace negotiations in Geneva: negotiations on maps and percentages of territory. The BiH delegation requests: access to the sea, to the Sava and to a harbor.
• Yasushi Akashi appointed Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the former Yugoslavia.
• UNICEF helps establish a radio-school. Classes are held over this medium.
• Rounds of humanitarian aid to the citizens of Sarajevo include: a liter of cooking oil, 300 grams of beans, 200 grams of sugar, 400 grams of mackarel, 200 grams of detergent, and 2 candles per household.
• “Opresa” opens a small store in the city with the slogan “Life is about the small things”.
• The Soros Foundation donates a piano to the organization “Nasa djeca”.
• Mate Boban, President of “Herzeg-Bosnia”, promises to close camps holding Muslims.
• Founding of counseling for psychological help: “Staying Sane in Bosnia”.
• The theft of electricity in the city goes on in different ways: setting up of illegal connections, underground cables, connecting to prioritized sources and transformers.
• The Soros Foundation finances the production of 10 tons of rat poison. The active toxin is “Sanofarm”, but because the poison is not registered by law it cannot be distributed.
• “Oslobodjenje” receives the “Sakharov” award. Zlatko Dizdarevic, journalist and editor, receives the award at the European Parliament.
• The fairytale “A Dragon in Love” is shown in one of the apartment blocks in Alipasino polje.
• The bobsled team trains for the Olympic Games in Lillehammer, but do not know how to leave Sarajevo. They train every day, lift weights and run, depending on the shelling. On average they lose 5 kg of weight. The team must borrow a bobsled because theirs is burnt.
• The Russians reveal their own peace plan. Foreign Minister Vitali Churkin travels extensively in major European cities.
• Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, and Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, present a plan on the division of BiH. 33.33% would go to the Muslims and 17.5% to the Croats. Lord Owen must convey this plan to the President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic.
• The Sarajevo Tobacco Factory wraps cigarettes in book pages. “Toward the History of BiH Literature” is next in line”.
• In Sarajevo Cathedral a ceremonial Christmas concert is held.
• On the occasion of Catholic Christmas, the Pope sends a message: “Let light shine on upon the suffering peoples.”
• The city lacks electricity, water and salt for bread.
• The Festival “Sarajevo Winter” organizes screening of cartoons for children.
• A kitchen opened for people working in the public and culture sectors. UNPROFOR gives them food.
UNPROFOR, or for those who don’t know them: United Nations Protection Forces, were awaited as saviors when they first arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina with their white vehicles and blue berets. As time went on, they proved to be powerless. Now they are helping in repairs of the infrastructure, in cleaning the city. They are also establishing bureaucratic rules of their own. In some instances proven to be good merchants, they are driving around in trucks, jeeps transporters. Children are climbing onto their vehicles, and soldiers are throwing them sweets. They transport wounded, bring humanitarian aid, drive from and to the airport. In short, nothing is done without them. UNPROFOR Headquarters is in the building of Communication Engineering at Alipasino polje. Soldiers are in the barracks which were formerly inhabited by the soldiers of the Yugoslav Peoples Army. The main Headquarters of the UNPROFOR’s commander is in a private villa. All these successions seem to be very natural.
THE UNPROFOR (the United Nations Protection Forces)
The role of the UNPROFOR was manifold. They served as hostages to the aggressor, they cleared the garbage, they rode in trams as a protection against snipers, they gave out sweets, brought flour, destroyed the surface of Sarajevo streets with their tanks and transporters, representing the only city transportation throughout a long period, they repaired electrical transmission lines, they controlled the airport... The most important form of the protection of citizens was driving the transporters next to them shielding them from the sniper fire while they were crossing the Tito street. For a long time they were the most significant part of the city’s commercial life because they were trading the goods available to them.