CIVIL DEFENSE // 06. 1995.
FUAD BABIC // CIVIL DEFENSE
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

June 1995

Fuad Babic
Civil Defense
CIVIL DEFENSE

‘You have to realize that since the beginning of the war, throughout the first 3 years, we had only one or two sirens going, because everything was destroyed and there was no electricity. There were a few of those small ones that were operated manually. So when it sounded in Dobrinja, it sounded in the Mitsubishi Avenue, but not on Bascarsija, because they couldn’t hear it. The more we shouted and warned the fewer people listened. Because the war lasted for such a long time and you could do nothing except catch them and push them into the basements and tie them up. Which was impossible. I’ll tell you something else. My father was born in 1926 and in 1992 he went down to the basement. He went down just once and never again. And as for myself, the Civil Defense commander, I never went down.’

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JUNE 1995


• Bill Clinton gives a speech at an airforce base in Colorado Springs: “If necessary, and after consultation with NATO, we will assist NATO in meeting the requests of the UN if they request help in withdrawing their troops.”
• NATO Secretary General, Willy Claes, on the “hostage crisis”: “The hostages must be released, unconditionally!”
• U.S. Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, on the “hostage crisis”: “The behavior of the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs is barbaric and uncivilized.”
• The world is united in verbal condemnation of the Serb’s positions. The central theme of world politics has become hostages – the abduction of UN personnel.
• William Perry: “2,000 marines, with aircraft carriers and amphibious units, may participate in securing a possible withdrawl of UN forces from Bosnia.”
• Preparatory/preliminary activities to a possible spectacular commando operation to liberate the hostages including 1,200 British special forces and 5,000 on standby, as well as aircraft carriers, amphibious units and a French aircraft carrier.
• Intensified diplomatic activity: The leader of the American negotiating team, Robert Frasure, meets with Slobodan Milosevic. Frasure offers the suspension of economic sanctions in exchange for the recognition of BiH’s borders.
• Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor in the Carter administration: “If the Serbs refuse, we need to clearly establish the understanding that if the UN does not strengthen its role and mandate in Bosnia, there is nothing we can do but lift the arms embargo and provide the Bosnians the right to defend themselves and support this with the heavy, punitive bombing of Serb positions.”
• In anticipation of Milosevic’s ‘yes’ – the effective policy in the Balkans rests on the fact that Milosevic is the key figure in the region.


• The unification of the so-called Republika Srpska and Serb Krajina is underway. Belgrade distances itself from it, describing it as a bad move that will only lead to new schisms instead of uniting people. Belgarde describes it as a means of preventing Yugoslavia from being sucked into the war, which it would like to avoid. If Milosevic says NO to the unification, he may become a traitor, as he’s hesitated for so long. Karadzic seeks allies in the leader of the Croatian Serbs, Milan Martic, who is completely estranged from Milosevic.
• Turns in the British and French policy towards Bosnia. Instead of withdrawing the “blue-helmets,” they reinforce their military presence.
• The Bosnian Serbs hijack 29 UN vehicles, among them six light tanks, from the checkpoints around Sarajevo. The city becomes more cautious – any UN vehicle is now suspicious. The UN warns the public on the movement of UN vehicles towards Sarajevo with unknown cargo.
• Paris and London want to form Rapid Reaction Forces (RRF). They also want to permanently open the airport for the arrival of humanitarian aid.
• The Bosnian Serbs hold 300 hostages – UN personnel – as a guarantee against NATO airstrikes at 20 locations in Bosnia. The UN knows where some of the hostages are; they have no clue of the whereabouts of others. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko: “The UN’s information depends on the IRC to determine their location and treatment.”
• The Serbs do not respond to UN offers for negotiations on the hostages.
• The UN sends a fax to Mladic as a reminder of the agreed upon meeting between Smith and Mladic, but there is still no response.


• The military council of the Bosnian Serbs decides to cancel all previous agreements with the UN. The Serbs have become outlaws to the world community.
• Flour remains at the Sarajevo airport. The UN cannot deliver it into the city. Part of the road on Igman is kept under constant fire by the Serbs. This 300 meter segment of the road is critical.
• Water pumps do not work because they lack protection from shells and snipers. The city has 11 tankers for transporting water. Notice to citizens: you can get water from public spouts at known locations.
• Ban issued on gatherings. Public announcements on general danger levels are made at least twice daily.
• The UNHCR brings oil and flour to “Velepekara”; “Velepekara” announces: “With this supply of flour we will have bread every second day for the next eight days.”
• John Fawcet, from Eagleton’s team for civil administration in Sarajevo: “The gas has been shut off and there is no interest on the Serb side to engage in any resolution to this problem. It is the same for electriticy and water.”
• Davor Vranic, a young tennis player: “Thanks to tennis, I’ve managed to stay sane. All of my aggression and energy I put into training. 70% of playing is in your head, the rest is technique, strength and preparation.” The decisive element is psychological, and Davor is psychologically stable and strong. “I concentrate only on the game, it’s a way of correcting your mistakes. It’s important to think less about other things, and not about the outcome, and it’s particularly harmful to ask yourself, what if I lose?” He plays guitar and performs in a duet. They have had 30 gigs. “The guitar pulls me through these hard times, especially when I can’t train.”


• Attack on the city.
• Boutros Boutros-Ghali: “The peacekeeping mission in Bosnia is becoming an impossible task.”
• Lord David Owen announces his resignation: “Slowly and inexorably all those wearing blue helmets are being pulled into the conflict. We need to decide, if only for ourselves, whether we can allow this to happen.”


• Bosnian Serb Army launches an attack on Gorazde. Civilian dead and wounded number in the dozens.
• Muhamed Sacirbegovic appointed Foreign Minister of BiH. Sacirbegovic: “My priority is the peace process.”
• UNPROFOR demands the unconditional release of members of UN forces in BiH. Ivanko: “We do not maintain contact with the Serbs.”
• Boutros Boutros-Ghali supports the humanitarian efforts of peacekeepers using force only in self-defense. Again the powerlessness of the UN is made legitimate.
• Radovan Karadzic: “Any attempt to free the hostages by force will end in catastrophe. It would be a massacre. It has to be resolved politically, to prevent attacks. They have to consult us before they decide to change the mandate of the UN. We can withdraw, but we will not surrender our weapons.”
• Karadzic sends a letter to Boutros Boutros-Ghaliu setting the following conditions:
1. Promises on the part of the countries of the UN and NATO to abandon the use of force and to seek a peaceful, political solution;
2. The immediate and complete demilitarization of the “safe areas”.
3. Immediate halting of the shipments of arms and military equipment from Iran and Turkey.
• On the meeting of Frasure-Milosevic: “Milosevic is open to the international community, if he would only take on the Bosnian Serbs.”
• Jacques Chirac, in a speech at the funeral of two French soldiers killed in a skirmish with Bosnian Serb forces on Vrbanja bridge in Sarajevo: “France will no longer tolerate its soldiers being killed, humiliated or wounded with impunity. We will not allow nationalist hatred and barbasim to return to our continent.”


• On a routine “No-fly” NATO operation an American F-16 is shot down in northern Bosnia, over Banja Luka. On this occasion the pilot disappears. The American Admiral, Leighton Smith, says: “I hope that the Bosnian Serbs understand that this pilot was on a routine flight that would certainly harm no one and had no intention of firing missiles.”


• French president, Jacques Chirac, orders his officers to use force in Bosnia if necessary, even if it would contradict the orders of UN command. Chirac has taken upon himself control over the French in Bosnia.
• Chief of the General Staff of the French Army, Admiral Jacques Lancsad: “We cannot speak of enemies, rather of terrorists.”
• The Bosnian Serbs capture 16 more French soldiers at a UN checkpoint, Bare, and take them away.
• Radovan Karadzic introduces censorship of the Pale media and the public statements officials, such that Nikola Koljevic is forced to deny that the hostages will be released.
• Moscow: The BH delegation extends the moratorium on debts for gas till the end of the war. The debt totals more than $100,000,000.
• Water crisis in the city. The flow of water from Bacevo is halted.
• After an appeal by Slobodan Milosevic, the Bosnian Serbs release 120 members of the UN forces. Karadzic: "The release of the hostages shows that the RS does not want to provoke a war with the international community. We expect a sign of “good will” on the part of the international community before we release the remaining hostages.”


• The Defense Ministers of the European Union and NATO meet in Paris and agree with the plans of France and the U.K. in creating an RRF force with the aim of protecting UNPROFOR from Bosnian Serb attacks. They also seek renewed freedom of movement for the UN, the opening of the Sarajevo airport, and the establishment of a corridor between Sarajevo and the Adriatic
• The Bosnian Serbs: “We are the masters of our own skies, and the sooner they vanish from our skies, the fewer will be shot down.”
• Jovica Stanisic, Director of the State Security Services of Yugoslavia, takes the hostages from the Bosnian Serbs and with deep respect transfers them to Serbia.
• Milosevic telephones Chirac: “This is only the first step towards the release of all of the hostages.”
• Without oil, there’s no “Velepekara” nor even the distribution of water to the citizens. No food, no energy. From the alternative source, Moscanica, only industrial water can be drawn.
• Sisters of the “Srce malog Isusa” convent exhibit their works at the seminary.


• The HV and HVO bombard Serb positions on Dinara.
• The Serbs claim they have captured the pilot of the F 16 jet.
• Sarajevo: A plan to deliver electricity every third day to homes.
• Bosnian Serb Army Commander Ratko Mladic: “There will be no release of the other hostages until the Serbs receive a guarantee from NATO that there will be no more bombings of Serb positions.”


• NATO and EU ministers of defense meet in Paris. They decide to form a multinational force, the RRF, with 10,000 soldiers, to assist the UN peacekeeping force.
• HVO offensive on the Glamoc-Grahovo front.
• Sarajevo: Homes must chlorinate water themselves: 1 teaspoon of chlorine powder in a two-liter bottle; pour water in, plug, shake. For a 5-liter container, 1 teaspoon of chlorine; for 10 liters 2 teaspoons; for 20 liters 4 teaspoons, for 30 liters 6 teaspoons; for 40 liters 8 teaspoons, and for 50 liters 10 teaspoons. The water can only be consumed after one hour.
• Snails invade gardens. They destroy cabbage, beans and other plants.
• Three French journalists are wounded on the road on Igman, coming under fire from Serb positions.
• Pentagon: American rescue teams in Bosnia receive electronic signals indicating that the pilot of the downed F-16 is alive. They do everything they can to locate the signals.
• Ejup Ganic: The BiH authorities have nothing against UNPROFOR using the road on Igman.
• Sarajevo mayors protest that no demands are made for the benefit of Sarajevans: “Demonstrate the same concern for the victims as you do for the hostages.”
• Sarajevo: Hunger, lines, snipers, sudden shells. The RRF units will come only in a month.
• Alain Juppé: “The Serbs are behaving like they’re suicidal.”
• Kozyrev and Hurd stress that the approach to the crisis should be unified.
• The elite RRF units are equipped with artillery, armored vehicles, fighting and transport planes, helicopters, state of the art communications systems, and enhanced logistics in central Bosnia, Zagreb and Italy. War cruisers are among the first to take their positions at sea.
• The international community wants to put an end to the uninterrupted humiliations suffered by the UN.
• Willy Cleas: “The mission in Bosnia is only possible if the peacekeeping force is so overwhelming that they can impose the rules of the game, instead of being a maidservant to Balkan primtivism.”
• In the center of Sarajevo, on Vrazova street, a UN APC serves as a shiled for pedestrians crossing the street in order to avoid snipers.


• Another 108 hostages are released.
• The leader of the American negotiations team, Robert Frasure, fails to convince Milosevic to recognize BiH in exchange for suspending sanctions. The “hostage crisis” raises Milosevic’s “stock value”.


• The Bosnian Serbs, during the capture of 350 UN soldiers, seize all of the arms depots under the control of UN forces. All nine arms depots, established from a NATO ultimatum in February 1994, and which housed all of the heavy artillery under UNPROFOR control, now are in the hands of Karadzic’s terrorists.
• According to the conditions of the NATO ultimatum, every seizure of arms from the depot under the control of the UN is subject to air strikes by NATO.
• The capture of UN soldiers is a grave, irreparable mistake. The Serbs are labeled terrorists, which is difficult to shake. The international community will not allow the scenes with the hostages to occur again.
• Water reaches basements.


• The rescue operation of the downed American pilot is successfully completed. 40 marines fly helicopters from the Adriatic to a forest 30 km from Bihać and rescue Captain Scott O’Grady. American President Bill Clinton, follows the operation closely.


• Haris Kec, a Bosnian refugee who eight months before in northern Norway had hijacked an SAS plane with 122 passengers and 6 crew members, begins a hunger strike in prison in Oslo. The 25 year old says he hijacked the plane “because of the cruel indifference of the international community towards Bosnia.”
• Thirst, hunger, blood, shells – the citizens have grown so coarse they no longer care for niceties Outbreak of entercolitis. Water needs to be chlorinated or boiled.
• UNHCR provides the City Government with part of the flour for Sarajevans, given the promise that the City Government would provide the vehicles to distribute the flour in the city.
• The French set up mortars on Igman.


• The White House declines a request from Haris Silajdzic to lift the arms embargo. “The BH government wants to escalate the conflict in the already tense region of the Balkans,” claims Michael McCurry, the White House press secretary.
• Karl Bildt becomes the new mediator for the former Yugoslavia.
• In Pale, an agreement is reached to allow the entry of humanitarian convoys into Sarajevo and the restoration of humanitarian road traffic toward Sarajevo. The UN refuses to discuss the suggestion that these concessions (on part of the Serbs) mean that the plan for the lifting of the siege by the RRF is no longer operative.


• America is especially sensitive over rescuing its own pilots when they are downed in enemy territory. It is a matter of national pride. President Clinton declares Scott O’Grady “an American hero, who risked his life while serving his country.” Clinton is sure that the pilot’s odyssey will one day make for a great film.
• Lawrence Eagleburger: “No one in the western alliance thinks strategically. No one has planned a single step in advance. A massive attack was necessary, not piecemeal strikes which inevitably lead to the capture of hostages. I recommend a massive air campaign on the entire series of strategic targets. Only this strategy will save the UN and NATO from a complete debacle. We could, as before, jog in place and try to get some promises from the Serbs that they would release the hostages. It would, of course, be followed by threats from the Serbs. This would encourage the 'Saddams' and 'Gaddafis', if only a hair had been harmed on any of the hostages. In the Gulf War, we made clear from the beginning that we wanted to win. In Bosnia, at no moment have we shown any determination. The UN was denied funds, which led to defeat.”
• Donors chase away mice: on the basis of a priorities list from the City Government, “Kristal” and “Sanitacija” begin a month-long systematic extermination campaign in the city. The UNHCR provides oil.
• ANNOUNCEMENT: Possibility that gas will enter the city that afternoon. Eagleton’s office acts as mediators on this plan.
• France and the U.K. convince the Serbs that the RRF will not attempt to impose a military solution.
• William Perry: “The Bosnian Serbs have to unconditionally release the hostages. The U.S. can send more than a few fighter jets from Italy to confuse radar.” These are the EF 111, a new jet that can circumvent radar signals.


• Boutros Boutros-Ghali recommends that the Security Council accept the formation of RRF forces. The British survey Igman. Possible military operations to secure the road on Igman.
• History of visual anti-sniper protection – the blue sheet: after a match for the UEFA Cup, Zeljo - Videoton, fans of “Zeljo” wave the blue flag because their team advances to the semi-final. In 1995, the blue flags become the blue sheet for visual anti-sniper protection.
• Sarajevo mayor, Tarik Kupusovic: “The ABiH will try to break the blockade of Sarajevo if no political solution can be found by the end of the summer.”
• Alexander Ivanko: “It’s almost inconceivable that the Serbs still hold a UN observer bound to a radar station on Jahorina. UNPROFOR has no contact with the Serbs” Ivanko receives a threatening fax-message from the Serbs: “You might have an an accident.”


• Suspension of the “air bridge” has lasted already for two months. No gas, no water, no electricity in the city.


• Members of RRF will support humanitarian convoys on roads agreed upon by both sides. The RRF makes the Serbs come partly to their senses during negotiations. Akashi has political control over the RRF. The RRF shows flexibility between protests and NATO strikes. The RRF is there not to impose peace but to allow UNPROFOR to be more effective and to achieve peace through agreements, announces UNPROFOR spokesman Garry Coward.


• John Menzies becomes the new American ambassador to BiH.
• Another 130 hostages released. 14 remain, who for technical reasons will be released that Tuesday.
• Jacques Chirac: “Don’t tell me about a religious war. These are people without faith or law, they are terrorists.”
• Momcilo Krajisnik, from the Bosnian Serb leadership: “The recognition of BiH is unacceptable, and accepting the peace plan is not an option.”
• Cardinal Puljic, on St. Anthony’s day: “In spite of all of the hardships, one should go justly and with dignity against all of the powers of evil. I cannot give you comfort, I cannot protect you, but I can give voice to the word of God. We are powerless, but we have spiritual worth, and this is indestructible.”
• Rescued American pilot Scott O’Grady: “The true heroes were those who saved me.” He had a religious vision of the Virgin Mary while he was waiting for his rescuers: “I don’t know what it was, but I saw something.”
• Dr Salko Adilovic, a professor at the Veterinary Faculty, publishes a book about raising goats. A goat is like a poor man’s cow. Swiss goats and alpine goats graze on the city streets.
• The airport has been closed since April 9th; on May 26 the Serbs cut off its electricity, water and gas.


• New York, June 16, 1995. The UN Security Council passes a resolution on sending armed troops for the rapid reaction force (RRF) in BiH to protect UNPROFOR. Members of the Security Council cannot agree on who will fund these forces. The RRF will be armed with mortars and artillery and number 12,500 soldiers, which will increase the number of UN soldiers in BiH by 50%.


• The world is worried over the concentration of ARBiH troops around Sarajevo.


• Alija Izetbegovic, on stories circulating about the breaking of the siege by the ABiH: “We made a small excursion to see how the ground stood. Operations are on schedule.”
• Bill Clinton: “The Bosnians have my full sympathy.
They have the right to want their city to be opened.” He cannot unilaterally lift the arms embargo. If the UN leave, he will support removing the embargo.


• Civil Defense: Every pump in the city that is “visually unprotected”, meaning not in a safe place, must be removed.
• The Bosnian Serbs ask Germany and the U.S. to put pressure on the BiH government to stop a four-day offensive and continue peace negotiations.


• Resumed attacks on Sarajevo. The ABiH liberate 150 square kilometers of territory which the aggressor is trying to recover. President of the Federation, Kresimir Zubak: “The joint actions of the ABiH and HVO aim to liberate the Federation of BiH.”
• Boutros Boutros-Ghali: “The place where we haven’t been successful is Bosnia. We cannot impose peace on the sides in the conflict. They must agree to a ceasefire, and our role is to assist and maintain that ceasefire.”
• Alija Izetbegovic: “We will put a halt to all of our military operations around Sarajevo if the rebel Bosnian Serbs allow electricity, water, and gas back into the city, and open the 'blue routes' and the airport. The war will end in BiH if they accept the peace plan proposed by the International Concact Group for the resolving the crisis in BiH.”


• Effects of the restrictions imposed the UN Security Council:
- “safe areas”, introduced in the spring of 1993 – not respected;
- ultimatum given the Bosnian Serbs, passed after February 5, 1994 – short-lived;
- exclusion zone for heavy artillery around Sarajevo – not respected at the time of the “hostage crisis”, when the Serbs seized all of the weapons under the control of the “blue helmets”;
- no-fly zone – the longest held, but not consistently enforced;
- only the arms embargo against the ABiH is enforced.


• Serb planes bomb Visoko, despite the no-fly zone. NATO requests permission from the UN to destroy the airport. General Janvier refuses to issue an order for this action. The issue is a previous deal: Janvier apparently promised the Serbs that there would be no NATO strikes if the hostages were released.


• The U.S. will fund its part for the RRF forces, provided their function on the ground is clear.
• Akashi: “NATO has the right to down planes from the air, but Resolution 816 does not give the right to attack airfields.”
• Hunger in Srebrenica. People venture into the forest, searching for mushrooms.


• UNPROFOR Commander General Rupert Smith refuses to attend a secret meeting between Janvier and Mladic. Growing tensions between him and Janvier. The French hold secret negotiations on the release of hostages, even though the French have publicly insisted on their unconditional release. France confirms the meeting, but not the terms of the trade-off.
Jacques Chirac: “There was no bargaining. Such a trade-off is inconceivable.”
Radovan Karadzic: “The great powers have sent the signal that there will not be military strikes.” Karadzic praises French President Chirac for his role in the release of the hostages.


• Survival: the city government orders “Vranica” to produce concrete slabs that will be set up at dangerous spots in the city.


• Vouchers issued for the use of water tanks in order to discipline citizens when filling up from them. The Civil Defense will dictate how much water each citizen receives on the basis of these vouchers.


• The U.K. Foreign Minister, Douglas Hurd, resigns.
• Alexander Ivanko: “The exclusion zone for heavy artillery around Sarajevo has ‘collapsed', but the defensive system for the UN 'safe area' around Sarajevo is still in force.”
• The exclusion zone for heavy artillery effective for a 20 km radius around the city, and established by a UN ultimatum from February 9, 1994, collapses after Karadzic’s Serbs occupy checkpoints for the control of heavy artillery and capture nearly 400 members of UN forces in retaliation for NATO airstrikes from May 25 and 26.


• “Plan 40104”, for the eventual withdrawal for the UN from BiH, which runs to 2,000 pages in print, is entirely conditioned by the situation on the ground. The withdrawal would take 4-6 weeks, and three months for the last soldier to depart.
• “Le Figaro”: “The RRF are “killed politically” by Akashi’s compromising letter to Karadžić before they even take their positions in Bosnia.”
• ARBiH: “The aim of the ABiH offensive is to encircle Serb positions around Sarajevo on three sides, in roughly a horseshoe shape. The First Corps will effectively BESIEGE THE BESIEGERS. Our task is to move toward Eastern Bosnia. That is the ultimate and unchanging task of the First Corps.”
• The Bosnian Serbs open fire on the UN on the road on Igman.
• The UN: “It’s difficult to respond to fire coming from civilian areas.”


• The Serbs fire modified air bombs at the Sarajevo neighborhood of Alipasino polje.


• The UN: “There is the possible option of no longer using the road on Igman. The road is not blockaded, but it is under constant fire. We can reduce the types of vehicles allowed on that road. But it’s not likely that UNPROFOR can use other roads, which are under the control of the Serb, because we would then need their approval, and then we would be under their control. It is possible that the UN could respond to fire with live ammunition instead of smoke, which has been the case till now."


• French President, Jacques Chirac, at an EU meeting: “If you want to them to listen, first you must have their respect. Military strength must accompany strength at the diplomatic level.”
• Karl Bildt in charge of negotiations on lifting the siege and opening a corridor from Sarajevo to the Adriatic.
• UNHCR: The citizens of Bihac receive 25 grams of food a day per person.
• The citizens of Sarajevo receive 239 grams of food a day, of which 230 grams are flour.
• Sarajevo: television and light allowed every sixth day, per household.
• UNHCR spokesman, Chris Janowski: “The warehouses lack inventories, the convoys are blocked, and there is only enough bread for five more days.”
• In Belgrade, Zarko Broz dies.


• Hellish day. The Serbs fire air bombs at the RTV building.


• Russia and America meet in space as the U.S. space shuttle docks at the Russian space station.

SHELLS

The city was shelled y mortar shells of 82, 120, 150 and 250 millimeters. The 82mm and 120mm shells were used in the Market and the Vase Miskina street massacres. The larger caliber shells, often incendiary, were used to destroy important buildings. Guided missiles of the Maljutka type as well as plated shells which could penetrate several walls before exploding were used for the some purpose. Anti- aircraft guns and machine-guns were used for random shooting. The biggest destruction was achieved by the modified bombs, the so called “sows”, which were fired from specially built launchers. The shells, unless they are plated, explode at first contact. When it rained a wet spot on the ceiling usually meant that there was an unexploded shell (“an Alien”) in the attic. When the shells explode they produce shrapnel. There is almost no building in Sarajevo without shrapnel. The mark made by a shell explosion was called “a rose”. At the time when the 120mm shells were used the most extensively the city bulletin ran the headline “120mm Is Not Much” signed - Cicciolina.

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