THE PRICES HAVE GONE UP 100% SINCE THE BLUE ROADS WERE CLOSED // 07. 1994.
ALEMKO NUHANOVIC // TRADING COMPANY ALEMKO
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

July 1994

Alemko Nuhanovic
Trading company Alemko
THE PRICES HAVE GONE UP 100% SINCE THE BLUE ROADS WERE CLOSED

‘At one point a bottle of oil was 40-50 marks. It was in my interest to bring it in, in my shops, if you remember, and most of you remember, who are watching, that a liter of oil was 5 marks. But then I was sorry. At that time the Marshall Tito army barracks were across the road. People were sleeping in front of the shop, they came in the evening to wait in the queue and buy in the morning. The queues went as far as Grbavica, down to that part at the entrance to Grbavica, that street, there. This was terribly dangerous because of snipers and everything. Then the police came, and thank God nothing happened to anyone. On that morning, on August ’94, my trailer trucks were coming down and entering Hrasnica. And I was very happy; I was about to enter Sarajevo with 35 trailer trucks of food. That was a great thing for Sarajevo then, about 700 tons of goods. I took the Blue Road, but that morning the Blue Road was closed. Then I really didn’t know what to do. What should I do? They said, wait, it’ll open tomorrow, and this, and that, and they’ll come to an agreement. But they couldn’t. It took days and days. 15-20 days passed. I spent enormous money for storage charges for the trucks, and the drivers and all that. At the end I had to unload, anyway. That’s how it was, 5 trailer trucks of eggs. It was August, everything was burning with heat, the heat was excruciating, the drivers panicked, they wanted to go back, to drive the trucks back. So what could I do then? I didn’t know what to do with the eggs. So I tried to transport them through the tunnel. I faced problems, as we all did, it was terrible. That tunnel, it was an affliction. You’d do better to throw the goods away at once or just to share them out among people than to go there. The costs of that tunnel were so great that it was a maximum loss. But thank God, I managed in that, too, to bring something into the town, to enter it. And I’m recognized in the town. People say, Alemko was here before the war, Alemko was here during the war, Alemko is here after the war.I can tell you an example from ’94. You remember well, coffee was 150 marks on the market. It was mixed coffee. Then I brought coffee in from Zenica; I think that 13 tons of coffee set off, it was give or take. It would get through or it wouldn’t. And I took the risk, I gave the money. The man said to me, Alemko, 70% chances that I won’t get through and 30% chances that I will. It was in my interest to get it to the people. 150 marks for a kilo? People know it well. The 13 tons of coffee got through. Without any problems. Hardly anyone stopped it. I took it over, it went through customs, and I paid customs properly and put it in the warehouse in ’94, in Marshall Tito Street in the Feroelektro plant, on the first floor. Then I moved it to my retail shops. Then people came, there must have been 100 people, and they offered 120 marks for a kilo, gross, but I sold a kilo of coffee for 50 marks in my shops. This means, the difference between 50 and 120 marks is 70. And that profit, just for passing from hand to hand, would have been 910 thousand marks, that is a million marks. I think no one would have refused that. I swear, I have no reason to lie and tell tales. I would not accept. Finally, people know that I made queues right to above the Beg’s Mosque, and that I made it available to all people. First I sold 2 kilo amounts, then one, then half a kilo of coffee per person. So that most of the town population got it at the best prices.’

TOPIC RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS
TOPIC RELATED TEXT

JULY 1994


• The Contact Group, composed of the U.K., France, Russia, Germany and the U.S. will present a map with the territorial demarcation of BiH and a set of threats in order to ensure acceptance of the plan.


• The U.S. Senate votes to not allow unilaterally lifting the arms embargo. The vote count is 50 - 50, but Vice President Al Gore casts the deciding vote against.


• Conflict between the Franciscans in Medjugorje. Fra Zovko, "Herzeg-Bosnia is the same as the creation of the Bosnian Serbs."


• Opening of U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo.
• Geneva, July 5th, 1994. Geneva peace agreement between the Muslims and Croats on the city of Mostar, placing it under the supervision of the European Union. Alija Izetbegovic and Kresimir Zubak sign the agreement.


• Top diplomats representing members of the G7 adopt a map dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina. They decided that with warnings and incentives they can compel the Muslims and Serbs to accept it.
• Gorazde: UN soldiers increasingly frequent target of attacks.


• The Contact Group proposes a portfolio of maps for all of the delegations. Concessions were made to the Government of BiH by preserving Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single state within its existing borders.


• The citizens of Sarajevo gain weight.
• On roofs in Sarajevo green gardens are cultivated as a means of survival.


• NATO appeals to the warring sides to accept the peace plan.


• On the plan presented by the Contact Group, Alija Izetbegovic says: "The plan is bad, but all of the other options are worse."
• U.K. Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, and the Foreign Minister of France, Alain Juppé, arrive in Sarajevo on the occasion of the opening of the French Embassy.


• Increased sniper fire.
• The Parliament of the Federation BiH accepts the Contact Group plan.


• The Bosnian Serb Assembly has not yet announced a decision on the peace plan proposed by the Contact Group.


• Flights to Sarajevo airport are suspended because the a "C-141 Hercules" plane is hit.
• The UN Special Envoy for Human Rights, Tadeusz Mazowiecki: "My statements were not taken seriously, and my recommendation was not accepted, because that is how the governments of some European countries wanted it to be."


• The Bosnian Serbs reject the new peace plan. The international community is now left without a new initiative.


• In Mostar the administration of the European Union is established.
• Because of the Bosnian Serbs's rejection of the peace plan, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, says: "We hope that the Russians put pressure on the Serbs to accept the peace plan."


• The Bosnian Serbs close the "blue routes" around Sarajevo.


• NATO is ready to provide air support to UN troops. The Bosnian Serb Army attacks a UN convoy on Mount Igman.


• Geneva: The Contact Group brings sanctions, but no military intervention.
• Sarajevo: A tram comes under sniper attack. Passengers wounded. Tram traffic suspend. UN soldiers return fire from an APC and thus stop the sniper fire.

Price list

200 DM for 1 cubic mater of wood, but you have to pay 50 DM more for the delivery.
170 DM for a bottle of whiskey, or of French cognac.
120 DM for a kilo of garlic.
100 DM for a hare (white, weighing about 3 kilos), or 1 kilo of dried meat.
40 DM - for this you can get 10 packs of cigarettes, or 1 liter of oil, or 1 kilo of beans, or
children’s bicycle, or 1 can of fish and 1 can of pate, or 1 lunch package, or half a kilo of tobacco.
30 DM for a wool sweater (hand made) or 1 jar of fat.
20 DM for 1 kilo of onions, or 2 kilos of cabbage, or a big pumpkin.
10 DM is the price of four batteries of 1,5 V, or of 5 liters of water - at all times except the summer.
Then the price of 5 liters of water raises to 30 DM.
3 DM for a chocolate bar, or a bunch of parsley. A circular saw is worth as much as seven kilos onions. One liter of milk is between 2,5 and 5 DM, but can be gotten for a pack of cigarettes. This is the best exchange between babies and smokers known in history.
What functions best is bartering. For two kilos of raw coffee, you can get a propane gas bottle of 12 kilos. A package of antibiotics is worth two local phone-calls. For a liter of cooking oil you can get a carton of cigarettes and a liter of cheap liquor, or three liters of cherry-syrup. For two liters of oil you can wear almost new Reeboks. A used male winter jacket costs 3 kilos of onions. A once-standard package of 18 kilos of paint is being exchanged for any kind and amount of food. 10 liters of oil, the amount which supplies energy for the two-hour shooting of a TV broadcast about the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is exchanged for 12 cans which supply energy for your private survival.
In handwritten ads on Tito’s street, one finds supply and demand ranging from gas stoves, jackets, shoes to messages such is this: “I am looking for a woman to help me survive the winter.”

THE TUNNEL

The Dobrinja-Butmir tunnel, a hole some 1.2 meters wide, 1.6 meters high and 760 meters long, is situated under the Sarajevo airport runway. In the official communication between local politicians and UNPROFOR this public secret has been referred to as “the non-existent tunnel”. Foreigners were not allowed into the tunnel and journalists were offering up to 5.000 DM for just one shot of the tunnel. Although the tunnel was an military object and intended solely for the army’s getting in and out of town, the privilege of using it was extended to the American ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Viktor Jakovic, who the aggressor did not allow to leave the city by plane. The tunnel was also used to get the members of Parliament from other towns into the city. Many of them were easily recognized during the sessions of Parliament because they had bruises on their foreheads from hitting the iron support bars within the tunnel. Some comfort was extended to the most respected politicians who were pushed through the tunnel in small wagons.
The commercialization of the tunnel brought about great changes in the economic life of the city. The tunnel became a place full of people dragging bags with potatoes o eggs. Many tradesmen were allowed to “rent” the tunnel from the army. Thanks to the tunnel many became rich, but the prices also fell within the city. The aggressor also knew about the secret tunnel and by continuously shelling its entrance it hampered its usage. They even tried to dig another tunnel of the other side of the airport in order to redirect the Zeljeznica river and flood the tunnel. In spite of everything the hole under the airport became the greatest public good of the city and it’s only link with the rest of the world. If one managed to get a permit to go through the tunnel he or she would be greeted at the exit by a marker-written sign: PARIS 3765km.

TOPIC RELATED VIDEO
POLLS
POLL
MAPA SIEGE OF SARAJEVO