LEAVING THE CITY // 01. 1995.
VEDAD SELIMBEGOVIC // STUDENT
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1995

Vedad Selimbegovic
Student
LEAVING THE CITY

‘That was the first time during the war that I was going to Travnik. We went through the tunnel. We waited there for Alija Izetbegovic to go through. I was very happy when he got through and that we moved on. It was around nine or ten when we arrived in Travnik. On the other side, when we passed Igman I saw a cow. I thought that it was a horse. I said to my mother, ‘look, there's a strange looking horse over there.’ She said, ‘That's not a horse; it's a cow.’ It was very late when we arrived at Travnik. I watched television for a while and then I went to bed. The next morning I got up and stood by the window. One beautiful day, my cousin Naida and I went to see her friend. There were a few gunshots, but not much. When we arrived there and played for about 10 or 15 minutes I have heard that a grenade had exploded. We went to a friend's house. Then Naida's brother came to take us home. One man died then. I was not allowed to go out for a month, not even to go to my cousin's with my mother.’

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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.

THE TUNNEL

The Dobrinja-Butmir tunnel, a hole some 1.2 meters wide, 1.6 meters high and 760 meters long, is situated under the Sarajevo airport runway. In the official communication between local politicians and UNPROFOR this public secret has been referred to as “the non-existent tunnel”. Foreigners were not allowed into the tunnel and journalists were offering up to 5.000 DM for just one shot of the tunnel. Although the tunnel was an military object and intended solely for the army’s getting in and out of town, the privilege of using it was extended to the American ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Viktor Jakovic, who the aggressor did not allow to leave the city by plane. The tunnel was also used to get the members of Parliament from other towns into the city. Many of them were easily recognized during the sessions of Parliament because they had bruises on their foreheads from hitting the iron support bars within the tunnel. Some comfort was extended to the most respected politicians who were pushed through the tunnel in small wagons.
The commercialization of the tunnel brought about great changes in the economic life of the city. The tunnel became a place full of people dragging bags with potatoes o eggs. Many tradesmen were allowed to “rent” the tunnel from the army. Thanks to the tunnel many became rich, but the prices also fell within the city. The aggressor also knew about the secret tunnel and by continuously shelling its entrance it hampered its usage. They even tried to dig another tunnel of the other side of the airport in order to redirect the Zeljeznica river and flood the tunnel. In spite of everything the hole under the airport became the greatest public good of the city and it’s only link with the rest of the world. If one managed to get a permit to go through the tunnel he or she would be greeted at the exit by a marker-written sign: PARIS 3765km.

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