U.N. SOLDIERS IN THE TRAMS SERVE AS A PROTECTION// 08. 1994. • IBRAHIM JUSUFRANIC// EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ‘GRAS’, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Executive director of the Gras, public Transportation Company
U.N. SOLDIERS IN THE TRAMS SERVE AS A PROTECTION
‘In our direct contacts with the U.N. we always asked for more. We knew we could not get everything we asked for. They wanted the tram to run, and we wanted it too. But we also wanted to protect our citizens. At that time we reached an agreement. For a period of time U.N. members were working in the tram. This was the only assurance for our citizens. And this functioned for a period of time. Later on the idea was abandoned and Sarajevans got used to any conditions.’
• A common scene on the streets of Sarajevo: in the tram stand passengers reading newspapers, while a sniper on the hill shoots all over Marijn Dvor. All wait for the shooting to stop. Passengers entering the tram choose the "best" place in the tram, where one has "the least chance of being shot" - Sarajevo Roulette.
• The usual sight at UN checkpoints where they should provide control of Bosnian Serb weapons: the Serbs arrive at checkpoints, take weapons by force from UN soldiers, then engage in talks over restoring the weapons under control.
• Foreign Minister of Russia, Andrei Koziryev: "I will no longer talk with Radovan Karadzic."
• At the airport negotiations on the cessation of sniper shootings.
• Because of the refusal to sign the proposed plan of the Contact Group and their referendum vote, the Serbian government sends a letter to the Bosnian Serbs: "Do not hide yourselves behind the referendum."
• The Government of Yugoslavia decides to break off political and economic relations with the Bosnian Serbs and the leadership in Pale. Borders are closed, transportation stopped and ban passed prohibiting political leaders and members of Parliament to step on Yugoslav soil.
• Bosnian Serbs seize a tank, 2 APC′s from a UN checkpoint. NATO aircraft warn their headquarters, and then act. UN Commander Michael Rose: "We warned the Serbian side to take shelter, because we did not want to kill soldiers." The green light for attacks comes from Washington, after consultation with Moscow and Brussels. "
• Passengers injured in a tram. The trams stops working.
• After the NATO air strikes, the Serbs return the tank, 2 APC′s and 2 anti-aircraft weapons. Admiral Leighton Smith, on the occasion of the NATO actions: "The point of the attack was to warn the Serbs so that they don’t even think of doing this again."
• Since the closure of the "blue routes" prices in the markets have soared by 100%.
• Momcilo Krajisnik, president of the Bosnian Serb Assembly, sends a request to the Contact Group to change the maps and give the Serbs their own state, otherwise they will be responsible for the escalation of the war in Bosnia.
• "Krug 99" launches a campaign: Declaration on a unified Sarajevo.
• Thousandth performance of "Moving Theatre."
• Swimming in the rivers of Sarajevo is forbidden due to contaminated water and the increasing occurrence of jaundice.
• Manfred Woerner, Secretary General of NATO, passes away.
• At Sarajevo airport an agreement is signed on snipers.
• Issues surround the commissioning of a new water supply - wait for a unit for water treatment.
• A BiH expedition stops its climb on the Himalayas due to the illness of one of the climbers.
• Vatican works on plans for the Pope's visit to Sarajevo. The Vatican gives consideration to the warning from Radovan Karadzic that the Pope will be shot by Muslims who in turn will blame the Serbs for the assassination.
• UN observers monitor Igman road with cameras, as Bosnian Serbs are firing on it.
• Sarajevo tram: UN troops will be passengers on the tram in order to ensure the safety of the passengers.
• The ARBiH liberates the city Velika Kladusa. The Army issues a proclamation for citizens to have confidence in it.
• General Michael Rose rides on the Sarajevo tram with specially designed tram tickets designed just for him and his symbolic ride.
• President of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic refuses to appoint observers at the border. Kozyrev travels to Belgrade.
• A fashion show with pieces made from clay and yeast is held; the designer is Snjezana Hufnagl.
• Everthing is prepared for the Pope's arrival. An altar is being constructed.
• Russian Foreign Minister Andre Kozyrev says after his visit to Belgrade, "We must strengthen sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs and ease sanctions against Belgrade."
• A statement from Radovan Karadzic, on the occasion of a possible lifting of the arms embargo for the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina: "If the international community lifts the embargo, we will detain all foreigners, shoot down all planes, and kidnap UN observers."
• Andrei Kozyrev in Sarajevo.
• After discussions with Koziryev, Slobodan Milosevic agrees to place observers on the border.
As early as the first year of the siege the official statistics showed that the number of vehicles fell from 105,000 to 5,000; of the 200 city transportation routes there remained one and of the 6,000 city transportation vehicles there remained 60. In May 1992 the city Public transportation depot was shelled and a great number of buses, trams and trolley buses were destroyed. The trolley buses stopped operating. A few buses and trams, provided there was fuel and electricity, took to the streets where they became favorite targets. The VW Golf cars, made in Sarajevo before the war, were the most widely used means of transportation. Due to the high speeds and a great number of drivers without driving licenses a poster appeared during the first months of the siege: DRIVE CAREFULLY, DON’T GET KILLED IN VAIN. It also informed the citizens that THERE WERE 300 DEAD AND INJURED in traffic accidents. White UN vehicles, which killed several Sarajevans, were the most frequent sight on the streets.