December 1993

Ines Fancovic

‘One day an official of the local committee came to tell me that for the next two months it was my turn to get food from UNPROFOR that they distributed three times a week. It made me feel sick. I had to go for that food, and not only me but also I think everybody felt humiliated.’



• 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.


The main dishes of 1992 are macaroni and rice. You wouldn’t believe in how many different ways they can be prepared! They can’t be bought, except on the black market. That was the case during the first months of the siege. Now everyone is saving them, jealously, if they still have any. By additions and with a lot of imagination, one USA lunch package can feed five people. Rice, macaroni and bread are often eaten together - otherwise it is difficult to survive. For one resident of Sarajevo, during the first seven months of war, you couldn’t count more than six packages of humanitarian aid. One had to invent ways to preserve and eat for as long as possible what is normally envisioned for one person, one meal, one use. In spring, summer and fall, all leaves it is possible to find were used as ingredients - from parks, gardens, fields and hills which were not dangerous to visit. Combined with rice, and well seasoned, everything becomes edible. Each person in Sarajevo is very close to an ideal macrobiotician, a real role-model for the health-conscious, diet-troubled West. A war cookbook emerged spontaneously, as a survival bestseller. Recipes spread throughout the city very quickly. People are healthy, in spite of everything, far no one eats animal fat anymore, nor meat, nor cheese - meals are made without eggs, without milk, onions, meat, vegetables. We eat a precious mix of wild imagination.


Sarajevo is a unique city on the planet. It is the site where our civilization has been dismantled in the course of intentional violence.
But Sarajevo is also the symbol of civil defense, the site where violence has been fought back with tolerance, fascism with art and culture, destruction with rebuilding, death with humour, the outburst of rural culture with the one that's urban terror with stubborn maintaining of normal city lifestyle.
Sarajevo has been deprived of all the civil, existential and social rights. It has been deprived of the right to live. Everything that makes normal urban living has been taken away from Sarajevo and its citizens, everything that could have been taken away has been taken away, all except for the right to survive by maintaining the right to culture.
But among all that destruction and dying, kids are being born, birthdays celebrated, weddings carried out. In the city surrounded by the deadly circle of primitivism the exhibitions are being opened, movies made, festivals organized, theatre plays and musicals performed.
Sarajevo lives the post-cataclysm. It is the picture of civilization emerging out of cataclysm, making something out of nothing, giving messages for the future.
Not because the future is necessarily a future of wars and disasters, but because humans are growing older and being born into a world which is ever less secure.
All that has been left under the ruins of Sarajevo, all that has survived the shelling of our civilization is the spirit of the cultural survival. The reconstruction of that spirit, the spirit of Sarajevo must start – now. Otherwise – Sarajevo will become the graveyard of the principles of multiethnicity and human rights.

Ines Fancovic
She was born on October 5, 1925 in Sibenik, Croatia. After the Second World War, she played in theater for the first time. Since then she played in numerous plays, from the classical to modern repertoires.

During the siege she played in ten premieres, which she claims kept her alive. “Despite the danger of shelling and snipers, and in between bullets, I ran to the theater, where I rehearsed throughout the whole day and forgot about the horrors that we were living in”. At the beginning of 1995, in the p0lay “Chained Ibi” by Massimo Schuster she celebrated her 50th year of work in the theater. She is ready for new roles.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
As fire.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
It does not exist.

What is you biggest loss?

What is your biggest gain?

When and where were you happiest?
In Sarajevo.

What are your lost illusions?
I don’t have any.

Describe your day at work.
Work, work, work...

My love!

What words don’t you use anymore?
Heating, light.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?

Where would you like to live?
Right here where I am now.

How have you survived?
By working.

What are you afraid of?
Of primitivism.

Does the past exist for you?
No. Only the present time.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
That depends on us.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
Intensive work.

How would you like to die?

Do you need hope to live?

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
Shocking, adjustment, endurance.

How would you call this period of your life?

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
Preserve your dignity.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
Yes. Love. Beauty.