AN AWARD TO AIDA CERKEZ FOR THE MOST ORGANIZED MEDIA OPERATION IN THE WAR// 11. 1995. • AIDA CERKEZ// CHIEF OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS OFFICE
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Chief of the Associated Press Office
AN AWARD TO AIDA CERKEZ FOR THE MOST ORGANIZED MEDIA OPERATION IN THE WAR
‘At November 6, 1995 I was given the Gremlin Award. From the Oliver Gremlin Foundation for the best organized media coverage of a story, a hot story as the Americans like to say, and that was Bosnia. It was the first time in my life that I had organized something, and since I didn’t have any experience in organization or in the media that was probably why I got it. I was carried on that wave of improvisation, which captured the whole of Sarajevo at that time. In the end they said it went well. I didn’t have anyone to compare myself with just like Sarajevo didn’t have anything to compare with it. Only when I got out from that siege then they said it was good, that it was the best, my work and my city. I went over Igman to get the prize. There was shooting but I had the luck to be in an armored car. They came for me. Right in the award giving ceremony, that took place on the 6th in the evening, the next day I heard that a relation of mine, someone who I think of as my brother, who I grew up with, had been wounded near Sanski Most and that upset the whole thing. I came back from New York thinking more about his wounding than about the award.’
• Strong negotiating position for the BH delegation based on the readiness of the ARBiH and HVO to liberate their country if diplomatic efforts do not bear fruit.
• Clinton: “The U.S. wants to end the war immediately”.
• Will the joint institutions of Bosnia’s divided state have enough “connective tissue”?
• Peace negotiations on Bosnia and Herzegovina begin in Dayton.
• The BiH delegation: Alija Izetbegovic, Haris Silajdzic, Muhamed Sacirbegovic, Kresimir Zubak, Jadranko Prlic, Ivo Komsic, Miro Lazovic
• Croatian delegation: Franjo Tudjman, Hrvoje Sarinic, Mate Granic, Gojko Susak
• Yugoslav and RS delegation: Slobodan Milosevic, Miodrag Bulatovic, Nikola Koljevic, Momcilo Krajisnik, Aleksa Buha, Milan Milutinovic.
• Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin assassinated.
• Geneva, November 10th, 1995. Resolution 1019: the UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1019, which demands that the Bosnian Serbs immediately allow the UNHCR, ICRC and other international organizations access to Srebrenica, Zepa and Banja Luka to inquire what happened to the people registered as missing persons, and demands that officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all detained persons so that they can be registered; the Security Council also urges all states to cooperate fully with the International Court for War Crimes at the Hague.
• Dayton peace negotiations: Kresimir Zubak, member of the BiH delegation, objects to the maps presented, claiming he was superficially informed. According to the maps, Bosanska Posavina would remain outside of the Federation’s territory.
• William Perry, U.S. Secretary of Defense: “The Russians must obey the orders of the U.S. general or they will be forced to withdraw their forces.”
• Pavel Grachev, Russian defense minister: “The Russians seek the right of veto on all orders of the U.S. commander George Joulwan."
• Dayton, peace negotiations: Zubak resigns rather than sign the peace plan.
• U.S. troops in Germany ready for deployment.
• Dayton, peace negotiations: BiH Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbegovic resigns.
• Peace Agreement in Dayton: BiH will be a unified state with two entities and common institutions. Sarajevo will remain undivided. Extraditions agreed upon for war criminals.
• Paris will be the site of the signing of the Dayton agreement. Slobodan Milosevic is rewarded with the lifting of sanctions.
• At the same time sanctions against Yugoslavia are lifted, so will the arms embargo on BiH.
• Part of UNPROFOR will withdraw, while another part of the UN will repaint their equipment and join NATO forces under the name of IFOR.
• Radovan Karadzic, message to NATO: “If you try to arrest me, you will be killed!”
• U.S. commander George Joulwan, who will command IFOR in Bosnia: “There is only one option – to succeed.”
• Ivo Komsic, member of the BiH delegation in Dayton: "Milosevic was more willing to sacrifice Sarajevo than to go into reintegrating BiH, because Sarajevo as a district was the start of reintegration." Milosevic tells the BiH delegation: “You deserve for it to be your city.”
• Chirac seeks security guarantees for the Serb population in Sarajevo.
On the fifth of April, 1992, around Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had about 500,000 inhabitants, around the city in the valley of the river Miljacka surrounded by mountains which made in the host of 1984 Winter Olympics, in the very center of what was Yugoslavia, appeared: two-hundred-sixty tanks, one-hundred-twenty mortars, and innumerable anti-aircraft cannons, sniper rifles and other small arms. All of that was entrenched around the city, facing it. At any moment, from any of these spots, any of these arms can hit any target in the city. And they did hit, indeed - civilian housing, museums, churches, mosques, hospitals, cemeteries, people on the streets. Everything became a target. All exits from the city, all points of entry, were blocked.
Experience of Survival
During two years of war, Sarajevo has stabilized within its post-cataclysmic environment. Sarajevo became a new city with a new way and philosophy of living. The 4,000 shells falling per day onto and into this urban landscape brought destruction, but it also brought another insight into the understanding of humanity; the answer to the question of how individuals can create a community out of nothing, and how this particular community in Sarajevo can create a new social group for the 21st Century.
This new philosophy exists in Sarajevo. It is called Survival. It is a philosophy created as a response to terror, a way of recapturing freedom by retaining the fundamentals of humanity; a set of morals, a culture, creativity, tolerance, a clarity of mind, a lack of fear. Humour and innovation have been integrated into every part of life. Even without the hardware of buildings, water, electricity or gas, Sarajevo has not become a dead city. It actually – and in spite of everything – has the software the rest of the world needs.
Sarajevo became a self-contained model of how an urban structure can survive a modern cataclysm. The time of the Warsaw ghetto entered history. The siege of Leningrad has been almost forgotten. The siege of Sarajevo, its 900 days under siege, surpassed all the horrors we've seen in documentaries and read about in history books. Sarajevo's fate, its actual day to day life has become something we've only seen in science fiction movies. Sarajevo's The Day After has proved that the city holds the skills and the knowledge needed to respond to the greatest degree of change in life, using human instincts and keeping the ideals of humanity on a practical level. The knowledge and the skills Sarajevo has accumulated are the knowledge the rest of the world needs in preparation for the 21st Century.
Everything is possible. Subsisting on the bare necessities, Sarajevo doesn't use pesticides or create pollution. It has become the greatest of all green cities on Earth. The entire city is trying to realize the New Age objectives of health, ecological, agricultural awareness, recycling and self sufficiency.
But, this perfect model of Survival can only be realized through the support of the international community. Sarajevo needs technology, education, and cultural information from the rest of the World.
The World needs Sarajevo's experience of Survival.