THE NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION IN THE BACHELORS CLUB // 01. 1995.
ALMIR CEHAJIC // SURREALISTS GROUP
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1995

Almir Cehajic
Surrealists Group
THE NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION IN THE BACHELORS CLUB

‘All of us got together and, and then we all decided who would end up with which girl, and we forgot about all of the horrors. No one ended up with any of the girls, but you know, we were in a good mood the next morning. t was a lot of fun. Yeah, that’s what I remember about 1995. There was one more thing that was kind of interesting. We thought that the shooting that was going on around 11 or 12 o’clock was part of the celebration, and not an armed battle, but I’m sure we were wrong. There were boys in the trenches on both sides that New Year’s eve. But, I don’t know, we thought it was a celebration. And, you know we were in a good mood.’

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JANUARY 1995


• President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, and the Commander of the ARBiH, Rasim Delic, sign a four month long truce: an end to hostilities, a complete ceasefire; withdrawal to the international borders of BiH and Croatia by the troops of Croatian Serbs and Muslim paramilitaries of the former member of the Presidency, Fikret Abdic; the opening of “blue routes”; complete freedom of movement for UNPROFOR and UNHCR; the release of all prisoners of war and the release of missing persons.
• Anthony Lake, the U.S. national security advisor: “It is too early to say that BiH has been written off, and Congress should work toward resolving the crisis.”


• Kresimir Zubak, President of the BH Federation, signs a truce on behalf of the Croats.


• In Split an Olm is discovered at a depth of 200 meters during the siphoning of a lake.


• ARBiH must withdraw from the demilitarized zone on Igman – as part of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities.
• Violations of the ceasefire in Bihac.


• Richard Holbrooke in Sarajevo: “There are no changes to the peace plan.”


• Smilja Gavric, head of the BH chess association, takes the chess team representing BiH to the championship in Paris. Younger players get two-day tickets to visit Disneyland.


• Ramp set on the “blue route”, near the airport. The military authorities in Pale do not accept the agreement.


• UN and NATO confirm that UNPROFOR Commander Michael Rose, with the aim of cooperating with the Serbs, gives them the flight schedule for NATO planes above BiH. A NATO officer had made the schedule available to him. After this conflict, NATO stops disclosing military flight schedules, which was part of a regular report to the UN on the daily activity of NATO planes over BiH.


• Japan: An earthquake in Kobe claims 1,800 victims.
• Sarajevo: Every fourth sample of water taken in the last two years has been bacteriologically substandard.


• The Soros Foundation pays for vaccinations for dogs against rabies.


• Very successful undertaking by Elektrodistribucija with the equitable distribution of 100 KW per household.
• Preparation for the launching of the “city train”, from Alipašino polje to the central city station.
• At a banquet Miss Roma is chosen, Lindita Tatri.
• The international center for Vedic studies organizes the “Hare Krisna Rock-session”.
• General Michael Rose makes a farewell visit to the Presidency of BiH.


• UN appoints British General Rupert Smith to replace Michael Rose.
• Appeal by “Krug 99”: “Stop the crimes against the Chechens!”


• Contact group in Sarajevo: Member of the Presidency of BiH, Ejup Ganic, and President of the Federation of BiH, Kresimir Zubak, announce that the peace process can continue if the Serbs accept the peace plan.


• General Rupert Smith assumes duty as UNPROFOR Commander for BiH.


• The Contact Group meets with the Presidency of BiH, which has a new make up: Ivo Komsic, Tatjana Ljujic, Nijaz Durakovic, Mirko Pejanovic, Alija Izetbegovic.


• Evacuation of patients carried out, maybe the last, as donor countries are no longer providing funds for evacuating the wounded and their accommodation.
• Russian President Boris Yeltsin, .during the incident with the Norwegian sounding rocket carries a BLACK SUITCASE with the infamous nuclear keys which he always keeps within easy reach.


• The Bosnian Serbs refuse to accept the peace plan. The Contact Group for BiH temporarily abandon their mission because of their failure to persuade them.
• Due to poor weather the Sarajevo airport is closed.
• Celebration of the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.


• UN halts operations at the “Dubrave” airport in Tuzla because they have no security guarantee from the Bosnian Serbs.


• 1,000th day of the siege.

Entertainment and accommodations

Tourism in Sarajevo comes down to foreign journalists and politicians. The latter ones stay in the city only for a few hours and run away. Soldiers and journalists stay longer, but are regularly replaced. Only for the people of Sarajevo is there no exit. They don’t live in shifts. Journalists are either in the Holiday Inn, or with friends who have a good basement. They travel the city in protected cars, and with obligatory bullet-proof vests. Sarajevo has numerous hotels. They are all full, except for the Bristol and Posta. They became homes for refugees. The same goes for the oldest and the most famous hotel, Evropa, in the part which has not burned. With war, the Evropa was completely emptied - of its kitchen, silverware, crystal glasses, tablecloths, paintings, furniture. Food and drinks are gone since April, too.
Guests are accepted only in the HOLIDAY INN, a hotel with two directors. One was appointed by the City Parliament, the other one by the Republic. Of course, not all of the rooms are available, for some no longer exist. During stronger shelling, guests leave their rooms and sleep collectively in the basement, armed with their cellular phones. The hotel is well supplied with alcoholic drinks and refreshments. Only there can you try the best of local couisine - big selections of Viennese and Oriental delights.
Guests are, of course, foreign journalists. There are some locals, too. These are private businessmen, merchants, people for all times and all imaginable businesses. Prices are war-like. The average menu is 50 DM per person. If ready for the black market rates, you may try to pay in the local currency. Service is decent.
At night, the hotel resembles Casablanca.
Culinary specialties are offered, since last October, in the following places:
GURMAN (Gourmet). Location: Corner of Titova and Radojke Lakic Street.
BUJRUM (Welcome). Location: Above the Cathedral, in the Vuk Karadzic Street.
KRALJICA DUNAVA (Queen of Danube). Location: Kata Govorusic Street.
KLUB NOVINARA (Journalist’s Club). Location: Pavle Goranin Street.
The selection of drinks is very limited. As for the food-aside from soup one can get cooked veal, hamburgers (domestic version is called pljeskavica). How the food actually gets there is kept as the biggest professional secret. Silent are both those who order and those who deliver. And those who eat.
There are private clubs, too. In case you have someone to take you there, look for:
MONIK: (behind the Post office at Dolac Malta)
MAZESTIK (close to jugobanka) RAGUZA (next to the main market - Markale)
JEZ (neighborhood of the seat of the Yugoslav People’s Army)
Modern, prewar life of cafes, in which mingled the youth of the city, and its business circles... Good music, excellent coffee, whiskey, home-made brandy. Since November they re-emerged, protected with thick slabs and UNHCR foils, with generators for their own electricity. Their names: Bugatti, Piere, Stefanel, Charlie, Sky, Indi, Holland, 501, S.O.S., GoGo, Tvin...They start working at 11 a.m. and close at nightfall. Some work until the curfew-visit only if you have a friend who knows the city well. Some are open as long as there are guests. All are armed.
There are places where you can gamble, playing cards. It is convenient for foreigners - payment is in hard currency anyway. One shouldn’t have too much self-confidence. Sarajevo gamblers cannot reach Italy or Cote de Azure any more. Their skilled passion has to be fulfilled here.

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