FRENCH INTELLECTUALS GIVE UP THE SARAJEVO LIST // 05. 1994.
IBRAHIM SPAHIC // DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL PEACE CENTER
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

May 1994

Ibro Spahic
Director of the International Peace Center
FRENCH INTELLECTUALS GIVE UP THE SARAJEVO LIST

‘On one hand there was Levi and one group of intellectuals, on the other another group of intellectuals who were associated with the Avignon Festival, for Sarajevo as the cultural center of Europe. The arguments in fact were a lot concerned with the intellectual scene in France and Europe and in a way the question of the fate of BH. This group of some of the most important intellectuals, independently of the fact that it was a question this time not just of signatures but of personal European engagement over Sarajevo and lifting the blockade. It was a sign that a lot would change in relation to our city and our country. After those lists another lists came from Sweden for Sarajevo and BH and finally came the hunger strike. Francois Tangu and a group of famous Paris intellectuals took part. One must say that that action was one of the most important, concrete political acts, because from that moment humanitarian and cultural and pacifist action stopped being a protest of citizens and moved up to politicians by the direct will of the intellectuals.’

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MAY 1994


• Andrei Kozyrev, Russian Foreign Minister, proposes a four-month truce.


• On the occasion of Easter, a solemn liturgy is held at the Church of the Holy Transfiguration.
• The famous Formula 1 driver Aerton Senna is killed in an accident.


• On Poljine, a hill above Sarajevo, the Bosnian Serb army requests to take a 122mm artillery piece from a UN checkpoint. The French soldiers refuse to hand over the weapon, which is under UN control, which leads to an argument. The UNPROFOR calls for NATO assistance. NATO planes fly low above the UN checkpoint.


• Taxi fares in Sarajevo: From the city center to "Kosevo" hospital – a can of fish; from the center to the neighborhood of Otoka- 1 liter of oil and 1 kilogram of sugar.
• Sarajevans fish in the city’s small river, the Miljacka, in order to survive.


• Akashi makes a secret deal with the Bosnian Serbs so that they can transport their tanks through the exclusion zone; in return they will allow through a convoy of British UN soldiers near Rogatica. The Bosnian Serbs do not hold up their end of this agreement.


• Huge lines of people in front of the Croatian Embassy wait for visas.


• A bus from Visoko arrives with 87 passengers.
• The Iranian Embassy opens.


• "The Guardian": "The destruction of Sarajevo as an ideal, the concept of Sarajevo, makes captives of us all."


• Vienna: Ongoing negotiations between Muslims and Croats over the constitution of the Federation of BH.


• UNICEF report on "Children and War in Bosnia": 79% of children have seen a wounded person, 55% of children have been shot at by a sniper; 96% of children have been shelled, 23% of children think that life has no value, 29% of children do not have feelings of sadness, 34% children have nervous stomach problems.
• Geneva, May 13th, 1994. In Geneva, a new round of peace negotiations starts.


• The new mayor of Sarajevo, Tarik Kupusovic, goes to Venice to mark the establishment of its sister city status with Sarajevo. He brings with him seven children from Sarajevo, all of them of different nationalities.


• Vienna: A document on the constitution of the Federation between Muslims and Croats is signed
• The event "Days of the National Museum" takes place in Sarajevo.
• Because of the open roads and larger supplies, prices in the market are dropping. Problems with the exchange rate due to a lack of small bills and coins. Until now, people did not use these because of the high prices at the markets; now there is a lack of small change.


• The administration of U.S. deals on three levels: 1. With the general public, 2. with the Arabs, 3. with their European allies.
• A Joint Staff is formed for the establishment of a federal army.
• Huge mass of vouchers circulates on the market, which dictates the price of the Deutsch mark. 1 DM. = 1 million bh vouchers


• Street stalls with books no longer exist - they're now a fantasy amid the current terror. An Encyclopedia cost 1 egg; today an Encyclopedia costs 5 eggs.


• The amount of $44,000 in ransom money is paid to the Bosnian Serbs for the release of imprisoned French soldiers.


• The U.K. will withdraw their troops if the warring parties do not reach an agreement within eight weeks. "The Muslims need to admit defeat," says Douglas Hogg.


• In Sarajevo water rationing is in effect. An appeal is sent to the citizens: "Do not wash carpets, do not water gardens!"
• Goats appear on Sarajevo trams. The goat has proven to be very useful for survival in Sarajevo.
• Jacqueline Onassis dies.
• France: French intellectuals lead an election campaign for the European Parliament under the slogan: "Europe begins in Sarajevo." A "List for Sarajevo" is formed. Bernard-Henri Lévy: "European values are being buried in Sarajevo."


• The first gas station reopens.
• Veterans of the Second World War lay flowers at the bust of Tito, on the occasion of his birthday.


• The Bosnian Serbs shoot at the bus to Visoko. A woman is killed but UNPROFOR manages to protect the bus.
• The U.S. Senate proposes airstrikes. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is against the attack, as is France.
• Geneva: agreement on the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina: 51% of the territory to the Federation, 49% of territory to the Bosnian Serbs.
• Dobrinja: Bosnian Serbs fire on a bus with passengers. The decision is made for UNPROFOR soldiers to ride on buses with passengers on the "blue routes."


• General Michael Rose: "This is a stalemate: the Serbs in the long run are losing the war, and the Muslims cannot reclaim the territory."
• Departure of convoy for Belgrade is expected : Passengers may bring only two bags, not weighing more than 15 kg., and no more than 1,000 DM in cash


• Water: no water in the city due to excessive spending on garden irrigation and washing carpets.
• Alexander Solzhenitsin returns to Russia after 20 years in exile.


• The "Botanical Garden", re-opens after two years. Museum workers have saved it from woodcutters during severe winters.


• Mariofil Ljubic appointed for president of the Constituent Assembly of the Federation.


• French intellectuals abandon the idea for the "List for Sarajevo."
• Marketplace: Chicken is cheaper than cabbage; cabbage is 8 DM.
• World No Tobacco Day


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.

Experience of Survival

During two years of war, Sarajevo has stabilized within its post-cataclysmic environment. Sarajevo became a new city with a new way and philosophy of living. The 4,000 shells falling per day onto and into this urban landscape brought destruction, but it also brought another insight into the understanding of humanity; the answer to the question of how individuals can create a community out of nothing, and how this particular community in Sarajevo can create a new social group for the 21st Century.
This new philosophy exists in Sarajevo. It is called Survival. It is a philosophy created as a response to terror, a way of recapturing freedom by retaining the fundamentals of humanity; a set of morals, a culture, creativity, tolerance, a clarity of mind, a lack of fear. Humour and innovation have been integrated into every part of life. Even without the hardware of buildings, water, electricity or gas, Sarajevo has not become a dead city. It actually – and in spite of everything – has the software the rest of the world needs.
Sarajevo became a self-contained model of how an urban structure can survive a modern cataclysm. The time of the Warsaw ghetto entered history. The siege of Leningrad has been almost forgotten. The siege of Sarajevo, its 900 days under siege, surpassed all the horrors we've seen in documentaries and read about in history books. Sarajevo's fate, its actual day to day life has become something we've only seen in science fiction movies. Sarajevo's The Day After has proved that the city holds the skills and the knowledge needed to respond to the greatest degree of change in life, using human instincts and keeping the ideals of humanity on a practical level. The knowledge and the skills Sarajevo has accumulated are the knowledge the rest of the world needs in preparation for the 21st Century.
Everything is possible. Subsisting on the bare necessities, Sarajevo doesn't use pesticides or create pollution. It has become the greatest of all green cities on Earth. The entire city is trying to realize the New Age objectives of health, ecological, agricultural awareness, recycling and self sufficiency.
But, this perfect model of Survival can only be realized through the support of the international community. Sarajevo needs technology, education, and cultural information from the rest of the World.
The World needs Sarajevo's experience of Survival.

Ibrahim Spahic
He was born on May 10, 1952 in Sarajevo. He graduated from the Philosophy College (comparative literature and theater science). He has been the director of the festival Sarajevo Winter since 1984. He is the president of the Sarajevo International Peace Center, the president of the Sarajevo Citizens Forum and the president of the Bosnian Civic Democratic Party. He is into publishing and the editor of the magazine for human rights and freedoms “Why.”

THE SIEGE
He received many peace, human rights and humanism prizes from various international organizations. He says his biggest acknowledgement is that a European family named its child Ibrahim.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
In the same shape.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
As happiness of perfectionism.

What is you biggest loss?
The deportation of my family.

What is your biggest gain?
The return of my family.

When and where were you happiest?
In Sarajevo April 28, 1984.

What are your lost illusions?
Illusions about the values of the European “human rights.”

Describe your day at work.
Meetings visits, designing, coordination, reading, listening.

Sarajevo?
Sarajevo!

What words don’t you use anymore?
I hate the misuse of words and people.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Yes, if virtue is moral.

Where would you like to live?
In Sarajevo.

How have you survived?
As a Sarajevan.

What are you afraid of?
Of women’s weaknesses.

Does the past exist for you?
Just like the future.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
The one who knows that this is the end of one civilization knows what the next one will look like.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
You cannot give a recipe for mental health.

How would you like to die?
If we knew this, life would have no meaning.

Do you need hope to live?
Yes.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
And ’95?

How would you call this period of your life?
Magma.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
Earth is, as poet Mak tells us: “Forgive me, but spiteful even of a dream”.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I do love it! But, what is the secret of life altogether?

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