NO ROAD RACE BECAUSE OF SECURITY REASONS // 04. 1995.
NUSRET SMAJLOVIC // ATHLETIC FEDERATION: COACH OF THE BH ATHLETIC TEAM
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

April 1995

Nusret Smajlovic
Athletic Federation/coach of the BH Athletic Team
NO ROAD RACE BECAUSE OF SECURITY REASONS

‘They sent a brochure, a program with the idea that a race should be organized in Sarajevo and at the same time in 48 other cities across Europe. The only difference was that people in Europe raced in the fresh air, by daylight, in spring. They could hear the birds singing and feel the wind in their hair while they ran, but we were denied that pleasure. We wanted to have that race even though it meant a threat to our lives; we wanted to run through the streets of Sarajevo. However, the day before the race, we received information from UNPROFOR headquarters that due to safety reasons it was not possible to have the race on the streets of Sarajevo. The Athletic Association of Sarajevo and the Olympic Committee, who were organizing the race, called a meeting and decided that we would run the race inspite of UNPROFOR's advice. The starting line was in the big Olympic hall, and through the leaky roof of Skenderija Center, you could see the sky. The floor was slippery. The course was one big circle, about 600 meters long. The race was run through narrow, slippery corridors, between shops with glass showcases. We were worried about their safety. But they were disciplined, and they ran.’

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APRIL 1995


• In London, Irma Hadzimuratovic dies, the girl shot by a sniper and evacuated to London to save her life.
• New York, April 2, 1995. The UN Security Council adopts a resolution for the existing peacekeeping force of 40,000 soldiers, known as UNPROFOR, to be divided into three separate missions. The largest UN mission will be in Croatia, under the name of UNCRO, while the third mission will have the task of precluding the spread of wider hostilities in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.


• American ambassador Viktor Jackovich leaves Sarajevo to become the ambassador in Ljubljana.
• The Youth Theatre tours in Germany and Switzerland.


• Radovan Karadzic requests 30,000 tons of petrol from Akashi for spring sowing. Akashi requests a proposal from him for the project.
• Vatican: the Pope announces that “Bosnia is a deeply unjust conflict.”


• The Serbs steal vehicles and arms from the UN.


• Boutros Boutros-Ghali receives the Onassis award for promoting the role of the UN.


• “Vivicitta”, an international marathon – the race is not held on the city’s streets, but indoors at Skenderija, because UNPROFOR cannot guarantee the race’s safety.


• Richard Holbrooke: “We are concerned about the deteriorating situation in Bosnia.”
• When asked how the Bosnian Serbs knew the “blue helmets” intentions, UNPROFOR spokesman Alexander Ivanko replies, “The UN is a transparent organization.”


• Increase in prices at the market.


• The BiH government requests that UNPROFOR respect the procedures for protecting the “safe areas.”
• Radovan Karadzic invites former American president Jimmy Carter to return to BiH to extend the so-called ceasefire. International officials no longer come to Pale for negotiations. Karadzic is morally, politically and economically isolated.
• NATO warns that it will shoot down secondary military targets if primary ones are not available.
• Russia will reestablish ties with Pale, if Pale says ‘yes’ to the Contact Group’s peace plan.
• The war criminal Arkan cannot travel to Brazil for his honeymoon because of an Interpol warrant.
• In the border area around Skadar lake 30 petrol pumps are installed to supply oil smuggled from Albania. The tanks are transported by cars with BiH registration plates that are under the control of the Bosnian Serbs.


• The world learns of another sniper victim. Maja Djokić, a young girl, is killed.
• It is agreed that for the holiday of Passover the Jewish community be provided with the original copy of the Sarajevo “Haggadah.”
• Announcement of the Civil Defense, after three years of shelling: “In response to general danger announcements citizens are required to darken their rooms. Those who disobey this order will have their electricity turned off."


• The Contact Group cannot arrive in Sarajevo because their airplane is not given permission to land. The Bosnian Serb Army Commander Ratko Mladic refuses to give them permission. The Bosnian Serbs refuse to enter into discussions on the opening of the airport. They threaten to bring down any airplane that tries to land at the airport.
• The citizens of Sarajevo are asked for reduced movement; compliance with general danger signals; the use of “alternative corridors” for traffic; to observe alarm signals and the implementation of self-defense measures.
• City markets are moved to “alternate spaces”.


• The Bosnian Serbs kidnap four French citizens who work for the organization “Doctors without Borders”.


• At a crossing in Kobiljak Bosnian Serbs seize 10,000 DM from a lead UNHCR convoy. Chris Janowski, UNHCR spokesman: “We will not go further than Kobiljace.”


• The new round of humanitarian assistance includes:1 kg. flour, 500 g. of rice, 400 g. of beans, 200 g. of oil. Children receive 2 kg. of soy flour, 3 kg. of biscuits, while cans of “Ikar” are uncertain.
• A French member of UNPROFOR is killed, at the “Holiday Inn”, while setting up an “anti-sniper” shipping container.
• French Defense Minister, François Léotard, announces that if the French conditions for its military presence is not met that France will withdraw its troops.


• Regarding the difficult situation in Sarajevo, the president of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, warns: “As long as Karadzic’s Serbs continue shelling Sarajevo without reactions from the international community, the ARBiH will break out with the help of the citizens of Sarajevo. The other option is to hand over control of the city to UNPROFOR and to establish a demilitarized zone with a range of 20 km.”
• William Eagleton, UN civilian administrator for Sarajevo: “The Bosnian Serbs will not even hear of a common structure.”


• The Pope sends an Easter message: “To the families destroyed by war, and the victims of hatred and violence in Algeria, Bosnia, Burundi, south Sudan, the church does not hesitate to repeat the Easter message of peace.”


• The Bosnian Serbs refuse to allow the flight of American ambassador Victor Jakovich. He leaves the city in a UN APC, over Igman, the most dangerous road in the world. Jackovich appeals to the UN, but they confirm the decision by the Serb liaison officer, saying there is nothing they can do.
• UNPROFOR renews its “air bridge” upon agreeing to the conditions of the Bosnian Serbs: as long as Bosnians cannot use the planes they are guaranteed their safety.


• The Contact Group plane returns, as the Bosnian Serbs do not guarantee the plane’s safety, in which there are four civilians.
• The Bosnian Serbs: 1. Close the road to the runway; 2. Keep the road over Igman under constant fire; 3. Kill inhabitants from surrounding areas.


• UNPROFOR collapses like a poorly designed building because of flaws in its foundation from 1992. They were sent to keep a peace that never was. It becomes the fourth side in the conflict. Resolution 900 on Sarajevo is adopted.
• Sarajevo communicates with the world through e-mail, thanks to a donation from the Soros Foundation; the e-mail’s system is codenamed ZAMIR-SA. 56,049 messages are exchanged with the world.


• The First Corps of the ARBiH liberates the tallest peak of Treskavica, “Djokin tower,” and re-names it “Little Caba”.
• Akashi insists on extending the ceasefire. Radovan Karadzic refuses: “We offer a lasting peace, not a partial solution.”
• Because of daylight saving time, the curfew is moved, and now lasts from 11pm to 5am.
• Akashi does not receive permission from a Serb officer for a flight to land with two Americans and a German because they do not have permission to land. These are Steiner and Frasure, members of the Contact Group. The Serbs prohibit them from entering the city, threatening to shoot them down.
• François Mitterand invites the President of the Presidency of BiH, Aliji Izetbegovic, to Paris on May 8th, to participate in a celbration of the 50th anniversary of the triumph over fascism: “The time has come for us to definitively turn a page in history, to celebrate the reconciliation between European nations and consider the new perspectives we are offered,” reads the invitation.
• Regarding the entry ban on the Contact Group to the airport in Sarajevo, Radovan Karadzic explains: “We do not accept any resolutions, even those of the Security Counil. Members of the Contact Group cannot come to hold meetings with only Muslims present.”
• The suspension of sanctions against Yugoslavia is extended to 75 days, and not 100 as before.


• If the war escalates, Russian “blue-helmets” may withdraw.


• The Serbs demand an office at the airport in order to monitor the identities of entrants.


• Regarding the extension of the ceasefire, the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic announces: “Our side will not agree to a formal extension of the ceasefire. The Serbs have not accepted a peace plan, nor has Milosevic recognized BiH.”


• A satellite link is established between Sarajevo-Barcelona and the rest of the world as a donation of the city of Barcelona to Sarajevo.

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.

DANGEROUS ZONES

Every area of the city was a dangerous zone. At every moment, from all the places in the mountains surrounding the city the snipers could hit every target in the city. Therefore the most dangerous zones were those directly in the line of fire Bridges, crossroads and streets exposed to the mountains. Those were the places where the possibility of getting shot was somewhat lessened if one was a fast runner. Such places also seemed less terrifying than other parts of town where one was never sure whether one should walk fast or slow. Would the shell land where you are or in front of you? The signs DANGEROUS ZONE or WATCH OUT, SNIPER, as well as the signs showing the direction of traffic were written in oil-based paint on pieces of UNHCR plastic sheets, or on pieces of cardboard, wooden board or simply written with chalk on the wall.

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