ALEMKO ‘THE CHICKEN A LA KING’// 05. 1994. • ALEMKO NUHANOVIC// TRADING COMPANY ALEMKO
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Trading Company Alemko
ALEMKO ‘THE CHICKEN A LA KING’
‘I remember well, yes, they called me the Chicken King then, in ’94, that’s how it was. I imported 100 tons that was 5 trailer trucks of goods. The goods went via Kiseljak, they were Italian goods, and Italian chickens. They went via Kiseljak, and Kiseljak ensured that they crossed Serb held territory. There were queues already, people knew about me, they knew that these chickens were coming. I let them know in advance. At that time one kilo of chicken, one of my chickens, was 7 marks. I think it was 6-7 marks, and this was unbelievable. Because at that time, once I went to Markale Market, that was the only market that was actually working, and once I found there, early in the morning, perhaps 6-7 o’clock, I saw a chicken and a crowd of people. This was before I’d imported the chickens. And I came up, and people were almost pointing guns at each other. Why, I thought, and then I saw, my goodness, it was because of a chicken. Someone had bought it in IFOR or somewhere, and brought it to market, and it was just under a kilo, it cost 50 marks. And then I set myself the task of importing chicken. And I worked a lot on that, and in about 15-20 days or so I managed to import those 100 tons of chicken. And then I gave them at the price of 6-7 marks. I don’t know how far back people can see into those days when my shops sold this chicken. There were queues 2 kilometers long. Because I wouldn’t let anyone to take a box or two, 10 or 5-6 chickens, I wanted every citizen to take one chicken to make things easier for them, so that they could at least taste chicken. Once, if your remember, I imported 1,200 tons of potato. I sold potatoes for one and a half marks. People couldn’t, they couldn’t believe that chicken was cheaper than potatoes. Cheaper than spinach and even than nettle. Nettle was much more expensive on the market than chicken. I know that, at that time German and Austrian television crews were here, a lot of those televisions were here. They reported about it in the world. I know that people, refugees from abroad, they called me and they thanked me, to express support. Although, believe me, at that time black marketers brought me suitcases full of money, I could’ve made incredible, incredible money only to resell, say, 30 or 40 marks for a kilo. But my stand was like that. Finally, now it’s all over, now it’s peace, and I’ve made money anyway. I don’t have as much as I had before the war, but God willing, that will.’
• 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