THE UN CREWS CHECK THE NATIONALITY OF THE PASSENGERS BEFORE CHOOSING THE ROAD // 02. 1995.
HARIS PASOVIC // DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL THEATER AND FILM FESTIVAL
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

February 1995

Haris Pasovic
Director of the International Theater and Film Festival
THE UN CREWS CHECK THE NATIONALITY OF THE PASSENGERS BEFORE CHOOSING THE ROAD

‘I remember that at that time UNESCO organized something they called The ‘UNESCO Cultural Bridge’ so that at last, after 2 or 3 years, it was made possible for artists to go out and in from Sarajevo by the UN air bridge. Before that we always had to smuggle ourselves as humanitarian personnel, or journalists or something like that. I remember that at that time we went in-groups. That we were taken in armored cars, but there were two routes. One across Dobrinja to the Airport, and the second through Kasindolska Street where there was a chetniks’ checkpoint. And I remember that it depended on the names of the passengers, which route to take, because through Kasindolska it was very risky because from time to time they stopped people and checked who was there, who was in the armored car. And there were cases when Bosniacs and Croats were stopped and taken out or taken prisoner from the cars.’

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FEBRUARY 1995


• The Bosnian Serbs remember that 50 % of the goods should belong to them if they sign an authorization to open the path across the airport.
• “Sarajevogas” issues a brochure on the use of gas to educate citizens, “Use gas carefully,” in 30,000 copies.


• The government of Yugoslavia issues a statement on its wish to close the “Josip Broz Tito” memorial center.
• The tomb of Alexander the Great is found, near the oasis of Siva, 750 km west of Cairo.
• The English and Spanish monarch have honorary mounted guards - , Croatian president Franjo Tudjman now has one as well.


• France and the U.S. seek to organize an international conference on the former Yugoslavia. This is only one among a number of plans the U.S considers.


• Designer Josip Nosse fashions a device providing security for high and low pressure home gas installations.


• In Russia negotiations are held on the delivery of gas to Bosnia.


• Combat episode involving two UN observers: A Nigerian kills a Finn, because he is mentally deranged.


• Black market in Sarajevo: Dealers will not accept dollars, but give them back as change in sales and sell them. The value of the Swiss frank falls.
• The road across the Sarajevo airport is open from 10am-12pm and from 3-5pm.


• An American space shuttle approaches within 12 km of the Russian space station “Mir”.


• The “blue routes” are a surrogate for freedom. The “city train” operates, providing free transportation.


• Momcilo Krajisnik, one of the leading figures of the SDS, says of the terror in Sarajevo:
“… The war must end in Sarajevo, just as it began there.”
• After the rejection of the peace plan in Pale, the international community deals directly with Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Serbia.


• Shells and snipers batter the city.
• Arrest of Svetlana Boskovic, a UNHCR staffer, who had passed on to Bosnian Serbs information on the names of passengers in UN vehicles on their way to the airport.


• The UNHCR recommends that drivers, Bosnians, not drive trucks of humanitarian aid from the airport into the city as a result of which a crisis involving overfilled warehouses ensues.


• NATO will practice its eventual military support of UN troops before their withdrawal from Bosnia through “computer maneuvers” from the 13th to the 21st of February behind closed doors at Ramstein base.


• The Contact Group is informed by the Bosnian Serb Assembly that they have rejected their plan with a vote of 44 to 6.
• The road in Hrasnica is filled with smugglers and regular citizens who shop in Hrasnica.


• UN report: The ARBiH protects the border of the Bihac safe area.


• Snipers fire at the tram


• The international community in dealing with Slobodan Milosevic makes the recognition of BiH and Croatia a condition for the lifting of sanctions.


• “Type A” flu arrives from China.


• UN report: 5,700 people a day cross the road across Sarajevo airport.


• Announcement of vendors at the Sarajevo market: “Your frying pans no longer have to wait for fish to arrive.”


• Slobodan Milosevic: “The time has not yet come to recognize Zagreb and Sarajevo.”
• Diplomatic relations established between Sarajevo-Moscow.


• Spectacular wedding in Belgrade of Zeljko Raznjatovic, Arkan, a war criminal from Serbia whose paramilitaries killed and plundered on the battlefields of Croatia and BiH, and popular folk singer Ceca. The wedding turns into a world media spectacle..


• The transportation company “Gras” lacks the funds to pay off its debt to Elektrodistribucija. They find that now is not a good time to charge for tickets, and hence have no revenue.


• The Serbs close the road to Visoko after the UN refuses to give them 20 liters of fuel per day.
• Moscow accuses George Soros, financier and philanthropist, of being a CIA agent because his work provides long-term stipends to Russian scholars who later emigrate permanently.
• U.S. Ambassador Viktor Jakovich, on “Krug 99”: “BiH is defending the principles of western civilization.”


• Five passengers wounded on the tram.



Cultural Survival

Sarajevo, boyishly astounded, is beginning to realize that it is exactly it – wrecked, wounded and grieving – that is the first city of the 21st century and now centre of European spirituality
Towards the end of his life, in 1949, Klaus Mann wrote: „A wave of suicides to which the most extraordinary and distinguished spirits would fall victim, would awaken the nations from their lethargy so that they would understand the deadly seriousness of the trial that man with his stupidity and selfishness has drawn over himself.“
This impassioned anti-fascist, calling for a campaign of suicides among European intellectuals, killed himself a short time later in Cannes. A little more than ten decades later not even an organized suicide campaign of whole nations would arouse European intellectuals from their lethargy. Instead of political suicide, they have because of their stupidity and selfishness decided on total destruction, on a long dying on warm rugs in the scent of cheap decadence. To the holocaust in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that famed European spirit of the end of the 20th century postures pitifully in its powerlessness, but does not move an inch from its self regarding, insensible egocentrism which makes it, however powerless, also evil. Corruption and hypocrisy make no attempt to hide themselves, individualism has turned into pettybourgeois narcissism. The Faust myth produced in the garrulous chancelleries of Europe is a useful cover-up for the last remains of conscience that can be as irritating as a blow-fly. „The Faustian thirst for knowledge“ is best quenched in symbols with nationalism. In 1993, a new key-word came into the salons of Europe: Sarajevo is dreadful enough, mysterious enough, and near enough, to whet and encourage a feeling of charity. Sarajevo has become an ideal digestif for the European stupidity that calls itself, in all seriousness, the European intelligentsia.
At the same time, in the real Sarajevo, a New European Spirit is being born, which does not look even in pity at the grotesque European salons. The new European spirit arises from a new discovery of meaning, from the redefinition of the world and life, death and suffering. And this could have happened only in Sarajevo the centre of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian tragedy and the end of Old Europe. In Sarajevo in the last 17 months, people of special kind have appeared, of a specially altered physiology because of the special course of(mal)nutrition through which they have passed and the sublimated mental life that has transcended the physiological. It is natural that this new spirit should have first manifested itself in young people, in the most intelligent and vital part of the population. The mystical spleen of the new European spirit is in its simplicity, and ethicalness.
From today's Sarajevan perspective, Klaus Mann looks like a good old romantic. His suicide, in the light of idea of his quoted at the beginning of this article, was the optimistic act of the lover of certain idea about the world. In the city in which the idea about the world has been changed, the feeling for the romanticism has been changed too. Klaus Mann was convinced that there were still intellectuals of his calibre when he called for an organized campaign of politically motivated suicides. It is true that he was alone from the simple reason that he was particular. Sarajevo is beginning to learn that it is not like other European cities, that it is special, unique, incomparable. Sarajevo, boyishly astounded, is beginning to realize that it is exactly it – wrecked, wounded and grieving – that is the first city of the 21st century and the new centre of European spirituality.

HARIS PAŠOVIĆ

Haris Pasovic
He was born in Sarajevo in 1961. In 1984 he graduated the Academy of Art in Novi Sad. His professional training includes the Fulbright Scholarship, High Level Training for Directors (Festival d’Avignon, UNESCO), work for Nordic Theatre Institute Holstebro in Denmark. Haris Pašović was directing in the most important theatres in former Yugoslavia before the war and has won almost every major theater award. His work has included Aristophanes’ “Birds”, Bunuel’s “Hamlet”, Jarry “Ubu Roa”, Wedekind’s “Spring’s Awakening”, “Marat/Sade”, Kiš “Simon, the Magician”.

THE SIEGE
During the siege of the city, Haris Pasovic continued to direct theater performances (“City”, “Silk Drums” based on the Japanese classical theatre, Euripides’ “Alcestis”, “Silk Drums II” “In the country of last things”, by Paul Auster) and films and organize screenings and exhibitions. He has been running the Sarajevo International Theatre and Film Festival.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
I wouldn’t come back.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
Freedom.

What is you biggest loss?
Freedom.

What is your biggest gain?
A new look at freedom and that I do not hate anybody.

When and where were you happiest?
Moments, moments...

What are your lost illusions?
A healthy society.

Describe your day at work.
Waking up, reading, administration, creation, reading, sleeping.

Sarajevo?
Sarajevo?

What words don’t you use anymore?
How do I remember?

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Yes.

Where would you like to live?
In nature.

How have you survived?
By accident, for now.

What are you afraid of?
A world war.

Does the past exist for you?
Yes.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
It would be nice if it was intelligent.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
Once you find the recipe it is often too late.

How would you like to die?
I would not like to die.

Do you need hope to live?
After hope and after fear.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
Difficult years.

How would you call this period of your life?
War.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
Yes, but I cannot answer the second part of the question.

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.

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