BH CHESS PLAYERS IN DISNEYLAND // 01. 1995.
NEVEN JAKUPOVIC // CHESS PLAYER
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1995

Neven Jakupovic
Chess player
BH CHESS PLAYERS IN DISNEYLAND

‘We got the invitation from Paris some time around the end of August. This was for the European Championship in 25-minute rapid chess in two categories, 12 years and under, and 14 and under. Four of us went to compete in the boys’ and the girls’ events, plus three more people as chaperones. We left as far as I can remember in the beginning of December 1994. We traveled by bus. I remember that it left from the Market and drove to the Airport village, where we had to wait for a long time, 2 to 3 hours. There was some shooting, an infantry attack over there towards Butmir, and so the tunnel was closed. They even told us that we were going to have to return to the city. But finally, after much pleading and so on, it was finally decided that we go through the tunnel that night. We made it to Butmir. In Butmir it was pitch black, and we couldn’t see anything. We barely made it through the mud, I remember a field, about four or five hundred meters we went. We had no idea in which direction we were going whether we were going towards the chetniks or not, but we tried to orient ourselves according to the control tower at the airport. We arrived in Butmir, at some repair center, as I recall. There a bus waiting for us which drove us to Hrasnica. It was muddy, terribly muddy. We could hardly go. I was wearing a pair of gloves and I remember how they were totally brown. The bus could hardly drive up to Osmice. At Osmice there was a second bus, which took us further to Zagreb. We drove up the coastline. We arrived in Zagreb the next day in the morning. In Zagreb we were put up in the warehouse of the Osijek Company Sloboda, and we stayed there for a couple of days. It wasn’t all settled yet. Our papers were not yet all in order. We needed visas for France and Switzerland. When all that was settled, we were low on cash, so we got some help from computer companies, who gave us a certain amount of money to continue with our trip. We took the train from Zagreb to Paris. That was also tiresome, because we traveled almost the whole day, I think, 12 hours, we traveled mainly at night. We traveled through Italy and Switzerland on our way to Paris. And, you know, we were exhausted by the time we got to Paris, because we had only had one or two days’ rest in Zagreb. Everything had been uncertain. We weren’t even sure that we would make it to Paris. When we got to Paris we called the organizer. He had invited us. I remember the first time, I saw Paris, I was overwhelmed. Skyscrapers, buildings, cars… We descended into the metro and traveled to the east of Paris, actually thirty kilometers east of Paris. To a place called Marne Lavalle, on the Marne River, and that’s where Disneyland Europe is located. It was really excellent there; it’s definitely one of the most luxurious parts of Paris, with about ten deluxe five-star hotels. We stayed in one of them, and the competition lasted only two days. We played well and placed somewhere in the middle, I mean all things considered it was an excellent result for that period. I had 50% of the points. On both days of our stay at Disneyland we got free tickets for the park from the organizer. They normally cost around 150 franks. So we got to go to Disneyland for free. The park is really fantastic. It’s quite big; I’m not sure exactly how much land it has. A track goes around the entire park. A train goes around so that you can take a look at everything. We didn’t take a ride on it in the end. And in Disneyland itself you’ve got a castle, a fountain, you know, everything that those amusement parks usually have. Little trains, cars, it was really cool. I remember the pirates. They left the biggest impression on me. They had these boats indoors and you float down the river, and off to the side you watch a real performance. You know pirates who kill people. And it was all so realistic, unbelievable. Those dolls are as if alive. And so your traveling down the river and then as you go down a waterfall, there’s fire on the side. It was just so cool. So we were in Paris for two days, and on one of them we even went into the city itself. In the city we went to see everything there is to see. We didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower; we didn’t have the time. But we did go to the Arch of Triumph and the bridges over the Seine, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Boulevard De Saint Germain. We took pictures; we even have one picture of us under the Eiffel Tower. But of course two days was not enough when we had to return to Sarajevo. We traveled to Zagreb. We had to stay there for a while again. Igman couldn’t be passed over because there had been a terrible snowstorm. We waited for 20 days, and so were able to play in another tournament there as well. An open tournament. We did well there as well, and in the end an UNPROFOR plane flew us back to Sarajevo. You know, it was a big change. I remember that in Zagreb on that day it was sunny at four o’clock. We landed in Sarajevo. Our first glimpse was of that airport in ruins. We got a ride by chance from a transporter. I remember that they were Ukrainians, and they dropped us off at the State Museum. That was a sniper zone. That first experience in Sarajevo after practically a month and a half was awful. We reached Sarajevo and somehow we managed to make it home. No water, no electricity, nothing at all.’

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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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