EACH SARAJEVAN WILL BE ABLE TO TURN ON ONE LIGHT BULB AND A TV SET FOR THE NEW YEAR // 12. 1994.
IRFAN DURMIC // DIRECTOR OF THE ELECTRIC COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

December 1994

Irfan Durmic
Director of the Electric Company
EACH SARAJEVAN WILL BE ABLE TO TURN ON ONE LIGHT BULB AND A TV SET FOR THE NEW YEAR

‘Realizing that the power supply to the city was uncertain and that it depended on the aggressors’ intentions we got an idea of finding an alternative power supply. This project, the project S-35 supplied power to the city by a 35-kilovolt line. The important thing was that the supply could not be hindered by anyone. It all went underground and all the experts, and there was many from all over the world, could not understand how it was done. But we had promised a TV viewing and one bulb for the New Year celebration. Of course some people should switch their stoves on and so before New Year 1994/95 we had a test. We started with the system on an experimental basis, the now famous system of supplying each household with 100-kilowatt hours per month, or 3.3-kilowatt hours per day per one household.’

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DECEMBER 1994


• The Serbs set up anti-aircraft defenses near Sarajevo.
• Willy Claes, NATO Secretary General: "The important thing is unity within the organization - Bosnia has created conflict between us.


• Sarajevo: The Bosnian Serbs close the valves on the gas lines.
• Bihac Krajina: The Fifth Corps manages to repel attacks; the aggressor is losing power.


• Radovan Karadzic threatens to order fire on NATO planes if they continue to monitor the airspace of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


• Missile attack on the Presidency building.
• A child killed by a bullet from a sniper.


• "Oil War": In 10 days diesel fuel for the UN will be gone, and in three days there will be no gasoline. The UN will stop all activities: no repairs, no escort for humanitarian aid, no anti-sniper teams.


• In the city on the post office building graffiti appears: "THIS IS SERBIA!" A reply written next to it: "THIS IS A POST OFFICE, YOU IDIOT." At another building: “TITO, COME BACK TO US!" The written reply:" I'M NOT INSANE." - with Tito's signature.
• The city takes action collecting signatures for a declaration on an undivided Sarajevo. Moscow: at the organization of the European Cultural Club, 120 public and cultural workers sign the declaration on an undivided Sarajevo.
• The Pope receives a visit from the Sarajevo choir "Trebevic."
• Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Rabin, Arafat and Peres.


• Danish convoy with fuel hijacked near the airport. They were surrounded by Bosnian Serbs with rifles pointed, who then jumped into the trucks. Ilidza is now popularly called the Bermuda Triangle, because it’s where equipment and fuel disappear.
• Gas pressure increases, the price of firewood is dropping: sacks of firewood - 15 DM.


• Chess Olympiad in Moscow. BiH – Ukraine; 3 -1 in favor of BiH.
• Moscow does not want UN troops to leave BiH, since it would mean that the arms embargo would be lifted for the Government of BiH.
• In Belgrade, Podgorica, Zagreb, France and Spain people give their signatures to the declaration for an indivisible Sarajevo.
• A new round of humanitarian aid in the city: 1 kilogram of rice, 200 grams of beans, 150 grams of oil, a can with 340 grams of processed meat, 2 kilograms of flour.
• The anti-sniper team returns fire 19 times.
• Discussion at NATO: Is the UN pulling out from Bosnia or not?
• Employees of the UN learn over the television news that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter comes to Bosnia with the latest peace initiative, at the invitation of the Bosnian Serbs. Karadzic calls CNN in Atlanta and presents this initiative to the public. On the occasion, Jimmy Carter says: "I come as a private citizen and as a representative of the Carter Center."
• Boutros Boutros-Ghali: "The UN has no money. Bangladesh could not furnish their UN team and this is why the situation is so dire in Bihac. "


• The U.S. government supports Carter's mission.
• For each released "blue helmet" UNPROFOR gives 1 ton of fuel to the Bosnian Serbs.
• 179,653 signatures collected from 35 countries for "Sarajevo, an undivided city."


• Carter meets in Zagreb with Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, and Prime Minister of the Federation of BiH, Haris Silajdzic.
• Vatican: After talks with Carter, the Pope says: "It's time that peace reign."
• Prime Minister of France, François Léotard: "We decided to deliver humanitarian aid, regardless of the consequences, to deploy a new peacekeeping force and open corridors, because otherwise the Americans will lift the arms embargo, and with that we will be forced to leave."


• A representative of the White House, regarding Carter's peace initiative: "Carter argues that the Bosnian Serbs want peace and that the American people do not understand them. The Serbs were the aggressors in this war. Americans can see what is going on there. Carter says that this is just one side of the story. The motives of this mission raise suspicion, but if it is successful, we will agree to it. "


• Carter: "The Bosnian Serbs agreed to a four-month ceasefire and during that time to begin negotiating a peace plan." Radovan Karadzic, on this occasion: "It’s remarkable, but he brought me back to the negotiating table."


• The Russian army attacks Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.
• At the chess Olympiad in Moscow, the BiH team wins a silver medal. A Christmas concert is held at the National Theatre, organized by the "King Tvrtko" brigade for morale.
• The Ministerial Council of the European Union: "We agree to the mediation of Jimmy Carter, provided he agrees to achieve a peace plan according to a 51:49 division."


• Santa Claus arrives from Cannes.


• Ceasefire agreement for 4 months and 7 days


• Command of the United Nations for Bosnia receives permission from Karadzic's Serbs for 11 convoys of the requested 12.
• Christmas Mass held in the Cathedral. Nine popular Christmas carols are sung by the choir "Trebevic".


• The aggressor does not respect the cease-fire in Bihac.
• At the border of Bosnia with Serbia and Montenegro: shooting at night, so observers hide in nearby houses, while passage for smuggling of "anything" is free. Because of the observers, the helicopters are flying with a false label of the Red Cross. They carry smuggled goods.


• The Mayor of Venice arrives in Sarajevo.
• The Bosnian Serbs give consent for candles, blankets and tarps to enter Sarajevo. Negotiations are ongoing over the delivery of firewood.
• For New Year’s every Sarajevan can turn on one lamp and a TV. The utility company Elektrodistribucija hopes citizens will respect it.
• Among their humanitarian aid residents receive 50 year-old biscuits.


Sarajevo by Night

SARAJEVO BY NIGHT means that life follows the line or the sun. Without civilization based on inventions of two Americans - Tesla, who was born in the neighborhood and who we are proud of, and Edison, who they are proud of - you have to learn to go to sleep early and to wake up early. So many evenings are spent in envy of those who have electricity. But Sarajevans have mastered the art of making kandilo, which is the light, usually hanging before an icon. To the Greeks have given the name - kandelos.
Recipe: Fill a glass jar, or a glass, half with water and a quarter with oil. Ten cut five to seven millimeters of a cork, and drag through it cotton string, or a carpet fringe, or any piece of burning material. In order for the wick to stay above the oil and burn, a tin strip of some two centimeters is used and placed above the jar. Through that strip runs the wick soaked in oil. Candles have burned long ago, even decorative ones. People who have saved petroleum lamps are very rare, and for them a liter of petroleum costs 30 DM. Batteries ran out at the beginning of the war. Still, they are being revived by cooking in salt water, five to ten minutes. They can come to life if connected to an automobile battery, if that one can be fed with electricity. All these tricks make batteries live five or six lives.
Of 1800 transformer stations in Sarajevo, more than half are out of use. To steal fuses is a regular thing. Three such fuses will cost you about 700 DM on the black market. Their real value is no more than 15 DM. Foreign currency is needed if you want to bring electricity from the station to the lobby of your house. To plug into a system, in all kinds of weird ways, is very fashionable. Another way is to run cables. You can steal the electricity from the houses which have it - on the right side of the street, and bring in to the houses which don’t on the left side. That has its price too, sometimes a deadly one. Some steal oil from the transformer stations to replace car fuel. To have a car battery in the apartment, that is a real treat. A radio can be plugged into it - and turned on ever hour, for the news. This battery is the source of light, too. Those less capable attach to it stronger bulbs and soon understand that the battery is drained too quickly. As time goes by, we all learned, and here is the advice - take the smallest bulb, like the one from the inside of a car. And carefully watch your lighter. You’ll need it, it, if not for lighting a cigarette, then surely to climb the staircases.

THE “ELEKTROPRIVREDA” BUILDING

Electricity was a rare guest in the city. The citizens made do with car batteries, candles given by humanitarian organizations, home- made oil lamps which required small amounts of edible oil and bits of shoestring, and with a variety of more or less successful inventions. Some people used battery and the so called “SOROS” lamps which required solar energy. Although there was plenty of solar energy the lamps had little capacity and quickly broke down. In the hilly parts of the city people built mini power-generating plants. The “Elektroprivreda” building was on the front line, next to the bridge which borders with the occupied Grbavica district and it was frequently shelled.

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