BH CHESS PLAYERS IN DISNEYLAND // 01. 1995.
SMILJA GAVRIC // CHESS FEDERATION
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1995

Smilja Gavric
Chess Federation
BH CHESS PLAYERS IN DISNEYLAND

‘It was really an exploit for us, for our little ‘cadets’, going away from Sarajevo for the first time was like an adventure for all of us. We set off in a good mood and full of hope for success. It was the European Championship for cadets; our boys and girls from this whirlwind of war would meet civilization for the first time, with their peers. We had no idea where we stood in that world and how much we fell behind, but that didn’t worry us. We came to the tunnel and waited for about four, five hours and then that passage. For the children it was something quite, I can’t say familiar, but they weren’t too surprised either. And we grown ups were bent over under the suitcases, there were many people, and there was water, so we had to go through water sometimes up to our ankles, but finally we came out of the tunnel and it was already dark, it was night, sometime around 10 p.m. And, then we had to go up the Igman mountain. But, since it was winter and it was quite muddy so we set, but, honest to God, the more we climbed the harder it got, and there were moments, it became very hard to make a step forward and then the mud started to slide us back again. And the children, four children, their bags, our bags, and then you get scared a bit, how to climb, where, there’s no end. There were also two wonderful young men, who helped us, they were going to somewhere in France. They pulled us and the children and the bags and at some moments we were really, there were even some elderly women, I saw two men next to us carry an old granny, they literally carried her uphill. And believe me it was really a very, very difficult moment, because I saw the children were on the edge of crying, incapable of getting out, and I thought, ‘Will we ever get up there?’ And when we got to the top, the children always tell that about me, I must have said it to boost their moral, I said: ‘Wow, children, look how wonderful it is up here, breathe in deeply.’ And that was one of those moments. So we passed that first section, the journey through Zagreb and so on, but that flash of Paris that awaited us and that flashy Disneyland, wonderful with all their attractions and beauty, children and hosts. I had to cry at first because of all that… it was like a reunion with a life that probably existed before the war, so that it was magnificent. The success at the tournament itself was of hardly any importance to us in that moment. I wanted the children to live the five, six days, that we were there, to live as much as they can, in a normal life and civilization, because we knew we were going back and that we didn’t know what to be expected. But I have to say that I was surprised how the children cooped with the transition, which was terrible for me. I thought how was I to endure all that, but they had this normal transition as if it were yesterday, as if the whole thing here never even existed, they joined the other children and their games without any problems.’

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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.

Recreation

Everyone is in sports clothes, for they are warmer, more comfortable and enable you to run quicker. Most of the members of the Bosnian Armed Forces wear deep white sneakers with the logo Yugosport. Their uniform, at the beginning, consisted of jeans, masking parts, ingenious improvisations made of bright colors. Bulletproof jackets are very rare They can be found at the price of 200 DM. Citizens renew wear and footwear by moving into abandoned apartments.

Walking
Six kilometers a day-that is the average for those who don’t need to go far. Some believe it helps you to keep in good shape.

Running
That is the favorite sport, practiced by everyone in Sarajevo. All cross-roads are run through as are all the dangerous neighborhoods. One runs with stolen wood, to the line where others are standing. Something is on sale, and you will know it only when you join the line.

Rock-climbing
Urban rock-climbing is a compulsory sports discipline. Instead of adequate ropes, one uses sheets. Climbers are solving distances between balconies, from higher to the lower ones which are not yet reached by fire.

Soccer
Often played with soldiers of UNPROFOR. On the other side - Bosnian Armed Forces, police and professional city players who are still here. Games take place in the hall of the burned Skenderija. The game is hard, masculine, with lots of injuries. Foreigners lose here, as they always did.

Chess
Played on staircases, in basements and in shelters. Sometimes even in the chess club Bosna, which has a good and very expensive buffet.

Tree-cutting
An entirely new city discipline. Tools for this sport are an electric saw and axes, small and big. One gets trained by cutting, trimming, splitting and piling the wood on the balcony or in the room, where they don’t suffer so much humidity. Wood is stacked in the bedroom, hall, living room, in the next apartment whose owners have left of disappeared.

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