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bosnet-digest V5 #82 / Thursday, 29 February 1996

From: Davor <dwagner@MAILBOX.SYR.EDU>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


  • [01] Sarajevo Winter 1996

  • [02] ACSB Update: Gen. Delic In DC; New Prosecutor...

  • [01] Sarajevo Winter 1996

    Sarajevo's 12th Annual Festival of the Arts

    Story by Jim Bartlett

    Feb. 7th, Sarajavans began their 12th=20 International Festival of the Arts. This year, however, there was a difference. There was no curfew, and no shelling. Though the festival has managed to be held in one form or another over the last four years, the limitations imposed by the siege and problems of free movement and logistics made it an understandably subdued affair.

    People told me how there had been some concerts and theater performances in the city center, but only people who lived nearby, and those who were willing to risk their lives, were able to attend. For the rest of the city, it was impossible to travel. This year all that has changed.

    Things are still not back to normal. Many of the traditional venues for the festival are in disrepair or occupied, but this was the first year since the war began that the true international flavor of festivals past, and the full range of events, could be held. With sponsorship from many different organizations around the world and in Bosnia including Radio BiH, UNESCO, and the European Cultural Foundation, a fuller and more meaningful Sarajevo Winter is being held.

    I say more meaningful because a great deal of the bleakness of the winter and the post-war hangover seemed to evaporate overnight. There is still the hint of burnout in the air, but the festival opening appeared to signal a fresh burst optimism.

    The opening of the festival also saw the lifting of the curfew that has sent residents to their homes at ten o'clock sharp for four years. For the first time since returning to Sarajevo, I heard laughter in the streets. The youth were out in force and even though most cafes are still in the ten o'clock habit, the kids walked the streets till late in the evening.

    TV BiH was also a little on the lighter side with classical concerts, traditional performances and various documentaries with a cultural theme=97as opposed to the usual political fare. There were performances by the Belgian Symphony, opera from Holland, and a Sarajavan quartet. The Muslim celebration of Ramadan was also on, so there were plenty of shows with an Islamic theme. But overall, the whole concept of revival and rising-above dominated. At least that's the feeling I got.

    One thing I noticed about the classics in Sarajevo was a little disturbing. The rock and rollers I had been hanging out with were taking the whole war experience in stride, but there was this nagging indication that the classics community had taken the last four years a little harder than most.

    The first indication I had that something was up was the performance I watched by the Sarajevo quartet on BiH TV. There was a piano, a flute, a cello, and a violin. It was a black tie affair at the national theater, but I have never heard anything like it in my life. The lady on piano looked old and strained for her years, and the music that poured from their instruments was the most tortured piece of classical I have ever heard.

    It was like Paganini meets Dante meets The Scream. It was like four years of collective rage and pain released in a shrieking, discordant wail that embodied all the helplessness and suffering endured while the rest of the world stood by and watched.

    It tripped me out so bad that I had to turn it off. But this was only one musical aspect of an overall impact I was seeing that the war had inflicted. The artwork on display at the festival really made it clear that there were some deep set scars here.

    My first stop was the post, the utterly-ruined remains of Sarajevo's Hapsburg period post office. Destroyed in the running street battles of '92, the post is a blackened shell of its former shelf. The large period brass chandeliers were twisted and laying in tangled heaps on piles of rubble, cleared away to make space for a sculpture and painting exhibit.

    In one corner sat a tattered-looking man huddled over a small fire, posted I assume, to keep an eye on the sculptures. He looked as if this was the first time in his life he had been in an actual gallery and could have cared less as he stared into the flickering flames.

    I quietly looked over the scene. Arranged along the far wall were the paintings, loud and inscribed with lines from Beatles tunes. In the center of the room was a collection of wire and welded sculptures. Some were constructed of found objects, with nearly life-size human figures in various repose attached. The figures were made of welding rod cut to about three inches and welded together like match sticks. The forms were flowing and delicately arranged, but had one disturbing feature=97they were headless.

    The centerpiece of the arrangement was a large welded cage with demonic-looking bird faces glaring out in all directions. Fronting all this were small glass cases with raw earthenware sculptures of nesting birds under glass. I never did find out the artist's name.

    My next stop was the main gallery at the Center for the Creative Arts, featuring the work of popular artist Nusret Pasic. Unlike the post, the arts center has survived relatively unscathed and hosted a number of shows throughout the war.

    The Pasic exhibit filled the entire room and consisted of a center piece of reed-thin rods topped with twisted little heads in a pond of water. It was surrounded by four walls covered with charcoal drawings of serpentine shapes topped with heads possessing the most twisted, haunted eyes. I never did get to speak to the artist, but was left with the impression that the whole thing must have come straight out of his nightmares. The experience left me drained.

    Sarajevo is experiencing a rebirth. People are free to move around unmolested by hillside snipers. Trams run unhindered. Water stays on all day, and electricity all night. Cafes are open daily and people, while short of cash, no longer have to pay hyper-inflated black-market prices in the stores.

    But the demons of this war are only beginning to be faced, to be expressed. A soul-deep healing process must begin and Sarajevo Winter is but a beginning. It will undoubtedly be a long process, but if the artists of Sarajevo are allowed to flower, and hold out the common suffering for all to see, it may be a process that will bring a lasting cure.

    [02] ACSB Update: Gen. Delic In DC; New Prosecutor...


    GEN. RASIM DELIC, chief of Bosnia's armed forces, is in Washington this week to seek progress in implementing the Administration's plan to provide training and arms for Bosnian Federation forces. Delic's delegation, which also includes Bosnian Army Fifth Corps Commander Gen. Atif Dudakovic and Bosnian Croat forces commander Gen. Zivko Budimir, will discuss the train-and-arm program with National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili, Deputy Secretary of Defense John White, and key Members of Congress. The delegation will also tour U.S. military installations and meet with civilian contractors bidding to provide training for Federation forces. Although the U.N. arms embargo on light weapons is due to expire after March 13, the Federation has yet to receive firm U.S. commitments on specific arms and training programs. The Bosnian government agreed to sign the Dayton Accords only after the Administration committed to provide training and arms so that the Federation could defend itself after IFOR withdraws.

    BRITISH PRIME MINISTER JOHN MAJOR warned Friday that IFOR may not be able to fulfill its mandate by December, and that contingency plans should be made for extending the mission. Major also said that the U.S. should not withdraw from Bosnia unilaterally. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Tuesday that the U.S. still plans to withdraw by the end of the year.

    PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON announced Tuesday that he would ask Congress to appropriate $820 million to finance assistance projects in Bosnia and U.S. participation in IFOR. The request includes $620 million for salaries and other IFOR-related costs, $145 million for reconstruction projects and the establishment of new Bosnian government institutions, and $45 million for police training and monitoring.

    IFOR ANNOUNCED Saturday that Bosnian Serb forces had resumed top-level military contacts with IFOR. On Tuesday, IFOR Commander Adm. Leighton Smith had reported to NATO that he was satisfied with compliance with the military provisions of the Dayton Accords, despite the fact that Bosnian Serb forces continued to boycott military meetings and had, until the previous weekend, violated demilitarized zones and prevented IFOR from inspecting certain arms depots. U.S. and IFOR officials continue to suspect that the Bosnian government has not expelled all foreign fighters as required by the Accords.

    NATO REPORTED TODAY that Bosnian Serb forces have withdrawn from the zones of separation provided for in the Dayton Accords, thereby meeting criteria for the suspension of U.N. sanctions against the Bosnian Serb Republic. The U.N. Security Council is to consider the NATO report today. On Friday, Russia unilaterally suspended sanctions. Moscow cited a January 23 NATO report stating that Bosnian Serb forces had met the U.N.'s criteria for the suspension. The Security Council, however, did not act on the report, which did not address all zones of separation.

    IFOR COMMANDER ADM. LEIGHTON SMITH agreed this weekend to allow Bosnian Serb forces, with IFOR escorts, to evacuate Serbs from sections of Sarajevo to be transferred to the Bosnian Federation. Aid officials criticized Smith's decision as ill-advised and a dangerous precedent. UNHCR and other civilian organizations have refused to assist in the evacuation and have encouraged the Serbs to remain. Bosnian Serb nationalists, however, have used propaganda to encourage Serbs to flee. Of an estimated 70,000 Serbs in the area, 20,000 are believed to have fled, and tens of thousands more may follow. UNHCR officials said that evacuees are being assigned to Srebrenica and other areas that have been purged of non-Serbs. Resettling Serbs in such locations may prevent non-Serb refugees from returning to their homes, thereby undermining a fundamental goal of the Dayton Accords. On Friday, Federation police took up duties in the Sarajevo suburb of Vogosca, and will deploy to Ilijas this Thursday. Three further deployments will conclude on March 19, when all of Serb-occupied Sarajevo is to have been transferred to Federation control.

    IN BRUSSELS, EU FOREIGN MINISTERS are to discuss economic incentives to encourage cooperation between Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia and closer ties between the EU and the Balkans. The ministers are also expected to maintain an arms embargo against Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia beyond the end of the U.N. embargo on light arms in March and heavy arms in June. On Thursday, France broke ranks with its EU partners by exchanging ambassadors with Serbia-Montenegro. The EU has not recognized the self-styled "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

    EU-APPOINTED ADMINISTRATOR FOR MOSTAR HANS KOSCHNIK RESIGNED TODAY. Koschnik will remain in office until July 23, when the original EU mandate in Mostar expires, unless a replacement is found earlier. The EU is expected to extend its mandate by six months. Tuesday's official reunification of Mostar's Bosnian Croat- and government-controlled sectors was marred by the Bosnian Croat forces' failure to maintain full freedom of movement and their postponement of joint Bosnian government, Bosnian Croat, Croatian, and EU police patrols. Regular patrols began Wednesday.

    THE OSCE ANNOUNCED Friday that the Bosnian elections commission had agreed to basic rules for Bosnia-wide elections, which are due between June 14 and September 14. Electoral rolls, based on Bosnia's 1991 census, are expected to be published by March 31. To qualify for elections, parties must endorse the Dayton Accords and provide lists of supporters numbering from 500 for municipal elections to 10,000 for the central presidency elections.

    BOSNIAN PRESIDENT ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC was hospitalized Thursday with heart problems. Vice President Ejup Ganic will temporarily assume Izetbegovic's duties.

    U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI Thursday appointed Canadian judge Louise Arbour to replace U.N. War Crimes Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone in October. Goldstone is expected to return to his seat on South Africa's constitutional court. The Tribunal is to hold evidentiary hearings this week against Croatian Serb leader Milan Martic, who was indicted last July and is believed to be in hiding in Banja Luka.

    The ACSB Bosnia Hotline is updated weekly, with more frequent updates when developments warrant.

    You can reach the ACSB Bosnia Hotline at (202-319-7189) or at our site on the World Wide Web at

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