THE BLUE ROAD MUST BE OPEN// 01. 1995. • HASAN MURATOVIC// PRESIDENT FOR THE BH-UN RELATIONS
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
President for the BH-UN relations
THE BLUE ROAD MUST BE OPEN
‘The obligation to open the road on January 15, 1995 was a part of a larger peace agreement signed on December 31, 1994, which we discussed here with Akashi for two days. At that point the Serbs were eager to see our army’s activities reduced. And they were ready to make some concessions, which included the opening of the road through the Airport, and opening of the corridor from Gorazde for the wounded. But, as usual, as soon as the first objectives had to be implemented the Serbs have started to interpret the agreement in their own way. Even though it was strictly stated in the agreement that the same conditions would apply for the road opening and maintained under the same control mechanisms as stated in the agreement from March 17, 1994, they were demanding that the road be open only for the passengers not the cargo. It is very important to note that the UNPROFOR and the UN together with the Serbs have kept Sarajevo closed off, not allowing us to use the road to the Airport through Dobrinja that was fully controlled by our army. Therefore, we never had to go through Stup towards the Airport. Nevertheless the UN have demanded that we must go through Stup towards the Airport. Nevertheless the UN have demanded that we must go through the Serb check point, and that they can dictate when, the cargo containing humanitarian aid from the air-lifts, can go through, and when not. The other part was that road across the airport that was fully controlled by the UN and they could let us use it if they wanted to or at least have ten cargo trucks drive over the Airport into the Sarajevo.’
• 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.
UNPROFOR, or for those who don’t know them: United Nations Protection Forces, were awaited as saviors when they first arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina with their white vehicles and blue berets. As time went on, they proved to be powerless. Now they are helping in repairs of the infrastructure, in cleaning the city. They are also establishing bureaucratic rules of their own. In some instances proven to be good merchants, they are driving around in trucks, jeeps transporters. Children are climbing onto their vehicles, and soldiers are throwing them sweets. They transport wounded, bring humanitarian aid, drive from and to the airport. In short, nothing is done without them. UNPROFOR Headquarters is in the building of Communication Engineering at Alipasino polje. Soldiers are in the barracks which were formerly inhabited by the soldiers of the Yugoslav Peoples Army. The main Headquarters of the UNPROFOR’s commander is in a private villa. All these successions seem to be very natural.
THE UNPROFOR (the United Nations Protection Forces)
The role of the UNPROFOR was manifold. They served as hostages to the aggressor, they cleared the garbage, they rode in trams as a protection against snipers, they gave out sweets, brought flour, destroyed the surface of Sarajevo streets with their tanks and transporters, representing the only city transportation throughout a long period, they repaired electrical transmission lines, they controlled the airport... The most important form of the protection of citizens was driving the transporters next to them shielding them from the sniper fire while they were crossing the Tito street. For a long time they were the most significant part of the city’s commercial life because they were trading the goods available to them.