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OMRI: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE, V1,#12, Mar. 26, 1996

From: OMRI-L <omri-l@ubvm.cc.buffalo.edu>

Open Media Research Institute: Pursuing Balkan Peace Directory

CONTENTS

  • [01] BOSNIAN SUMMIT: WHISTLING IN THE DARK?

  • [02] IZETBEGOVIC SAYS ELECTIONS KEY TO DAYTON PROCESS.

  • [03] BRAWL BETWEEN BACKERS OF KARADZIC, MILOSEVIC.

  • [04] SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY: KARADZIC SHOULD TAKE PART IN ELECTIONS.

  • [05] ANOTHER SUSPECTED MASS GRAVE FOUND NEAR OMARSKA.

  • [06] HAGUE TRIBUNAL INDICTS FOUR FOR CRIMES AGAINST SERBS.

  • [07] SOME PRISONERS FREED IN BOSNIA AFTER AID CUTOFF THREAT.

  • [08] HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON PLEDGES $25 MILLION TO REBUILD BOSNIA.

  • [09] SARAJEVO CONFERENCE DISCUSSES BOSNIAN RECONSTRUCTION.

  • [10] ROUNDUP OF CIVILIAN DEVELOPMENTS.

  • [11] NEW MOSTAR ADMINISTRATOR UNBURDENED BY HISTORY.

  • [12] STORM CLOUDS OVER THE FEDERATION...

  • [13] ...AND BETWEEN SERBS AND THEIR NEIGHBORS.

  • [14] BLEAK BALANCE SHEET FOR REFUGEES.

  • [15] TENSIONS IN BANJA LUKA REGION OVER REFUGEES.

  • [16] RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICIAL ROSY ON RELATIONS WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.

  • [17] SERBIAN PRESIDENT FAVORS BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.

  • [18] BELGRADE TO COOPERATE ON WAR CRIMES ISSUE?

  • [19] RUMP YUGOSLAVIA STILL SHIELDING WAR CRIMINALS.

  • [20] "IS THE YUGOSLAV LEFT PUSHING ASIDE THE SDA SANDZAK?"

  • [21] REFUGEE COMMITTEE DEMANDS TALKS BETWEEN BELGRADE AND ZAGREB.

  • [22] 28,000 KRAJINA SERBS WANT TO GO HOME.

  • [23] CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, UN REPRESENTATIVE DISCUSS EASTERN SLAVONIA.

  • [24] SERBS STONE ALBRIGHT IN VUKOVAR.

  • [25] "SEARCH FOR NORMAL."


  • OMRI SPECIAL REPORT: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE

    Vol. 1, No. 12, 26 March 1996

    [01] BOSNIAN SUMMIT: WHISTLING IN THE DARK?

    U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher hosted a summit of the leaders of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia in Geneva on 18 March. It was called on short notice to try to overcome some of the difficulties that threaten to derail the Dayton system altogether. The outcome consisted chiefly of pledges to observe past promises, which -- again -- may or may not be kept

    It has been evident since the start of the Dayton process in mid- December that the sailing would be anything but smooth. The agreement itself is filled with ambiguities and contradictions that any party desiring to sabotage the system could manipulate. About the only crystal-clear section was the military one, which was accompanied by a definite time table and backed up the mandate of IFOR

    It was not surprising, therefore, that all sides generally complied with the military provisions. Technical reasons rather than duplicity generally accounted for the few delays, although the problem of uncleared land mines will probably haunt Bosnia for decades to come

    Observing the civilian provisions proved, however, to be another matter altogether. For this reason, a summit was called in Rome on 17-18 February, which sought to clear up the thorniest problems that outgoing U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke played down as "bumps in the road." These issues included the differences between Croats and Muslims over Mostar, and the future of the Serbs in the Sarajevo suburbs slated to pass to government control. The participants reaffirmed their support for the Dayton treaty and agreed on new "clarifications."

    Precious little has been done on the ground to implement these pledges, however. The situation in Mostar remains almost as tense as ever, and public feuding between Muslims and Croats has been extended to a row over the organization of the government of Sarajevo. Ominous reports of sharp animosities between the nominal allies have surfaced, moreover, in the valleys of central Bosnia

    And as to the Sarajevo Serbs, virtually all of them left under the intimidation of thugs and arsonists on orders from Pale. This was despite Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's public statements that he had obtained firm guarantees in Rome for the future of "Serbian Sarajevo."

    All this raises questions about the future of a peace process involving people like Milosevic, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, and Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic, who substituted in Geneva for an ailing President Alija Izetbegovic. These men have signed agreements and reaffirmed their pledges time and again, but problems continue to abound in practice. This invites several explanations, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. One is that the treaty is ambiguous enough to generate totally contradictory interpretations. Another is that the signatories do not actually control their people on the ground. A third is that some bad faith is involved. It was thus with skepticism that Nasa Borba on 20 March quoted Christopher as calling the latest summit's results "one more successful agreement on Bosnia." -- Patrick Moore

    [02] IZETBEGOVIC SAYS ELECTIONS KEY TO DAYTON PROCESS.

    Izetbegovic is recuperating at home from heart problems, and hence he was not in Geneva. He has nonetheless given a major interview to Focus, its parent publication, Dnevni avaz , reported on 20 March. It appears to be pegged to the ending of the primarily military stage of the Dayton agreement and the beginning of the mainly civilian one. He stressed that the cornerstone of the Dayton structure is holding elections later this year, and that if the Serbs block them, his government will withdraw recognition of the Republika Srpska. Turning to the Croats, the Muslim leader said that some were supporters of the Federation but that others were just playing a game, hoping to provoke the Muslims into torpedoing the project first. Addressing American concerns about the Iranian presence in Bosnia, Izetbegovic said that only 50 ex-fighters are left and that they are all now civilians with families and Bosnian citizenship. He added that the prime minister's recent visit to Iran was linked to the ending of bilateral military relations and that, in keeping with Dayton, such ties would now be purely peaceful. -- Patrick Moore

    [03] BRAWL BETWEEN BACKERS OF KARADZIC, MILOSEVIC.

    Meanwhile in the Republika Srpska, the election campaign has begun in earnest. Supporters of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic lobbed a tear gas grenade into a meeting of the Socialist Party of the Republika Srpska (SPRS), which is the Bosnian branch of the ruling Serbian party of Milosevic. The incident took place on 24 March in the small town of Blatnica southwest of Doboj, AFP on 26 March quoted Radio Belgrade as saying. Karadzic supporters included local police officials, and several people were injured and some had to be taken to hospital. Milosevic backers said that this was not the first such incident and that Karadzic's people are trying to intimidate the opposition in the run-up to the elections. The SPRS stated that it will file a formal complaint with the OSCE. -- Patrick Moore

    [04] SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY: KARADZIC SHOULD TAKE PART IN ELECTIONS.

    Meanwhile in Banja Luka, the Serbian Social Liberal Party feels that Karadzic should be allowed to run in the elections, even though the Dayton agreement bans indicted war criminals from so doing. The reason for this stand, according to party President Miodrag Zivanovic, is that, if Karadzic is not on the ballot, "the Serbian population will make a national hero and a martyr out of him, on whom the 'merciless' international community has inflicted a great injustice." Zivanovic added that the worst criminal for the Serbs is Pale's parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, who "has everything in his hands," Onasa reported on 23 March. -- Patrick Moore

    [05] ANOTHER SUSPECTED MASS GRAVE FOUND NEAR OMARSKA.

    Still on the issue of war criminals and war crimes, yet another burial site has been found near one of the most notorious Serbian concentration camps in Bosnia, which was closed in 1992 following massive international protests. The International Herald Tribune wrote on 22 March that investigators say the remains of some 120 Muslims and Croats appear to have been dumped at the back of a cave 30 km from the camp and then covered with rubbish and animal carcasses in an attempt to hide the evidence. There had also been an explosion at the cave site. Some 11,500 people are missing from Omarska, where brutal beatings were a daily occurrence. -- Patrick Moore

    [06] HAGUE TRIBUNAL INDICTS FOUR FOR CRIMES AGAINST SERBS.

    In The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 22 March issued indictments against three Muslims and one Croat, Onasa reported. They are charged with murdering, torturing, and raping Serbian prisoners in 1992 in the Celebici camp following the fall of Konjic. This marks the first time that the court has indicted persons for crimes against Serbs and the first time that any Muslims have been formally charged. To date 46 Serbs and seven Croats have been indicted, but only two Serbs are actually being held on such charges. A court spokesman said that investigations will continue and that this will not be the last of indictments for crimes against Serbs, the International Herald Tribune noted on 23 March. The Serbs have charged the tribunal with singling them out for punishment, while the Croats have said that the Hague turns a blind eye to Muslim crimes. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] SOME PRISONERS FREED IN BOSNIA AFTER AID CUTOFF THREAT.

    Meanwhile in Moscow, the foreign ministers of the Contact Group countries met on 23 March and told the three sides in Bosnia that an aid donors' conference slated for mid-April would be suspended if remaining prisoners of war are not released. POW's not being investigated for war crimes were to have been freed before 20 January according to the Dayton agreement, but some 200 to 300 continue to be held, the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes noted on 25 March. The Bosnian government on 23 March freed 109 Serbs, and the next day also released the Serbian journalist Niko Djuric, the International Herald Tribune wrote on 25 March. On that morning the Serbs freed Muslim photojournalist Hidajet Delic, whom they had been holding since 8 February. The Red Cross stated that the government still has 20 prisoners, the Croats 51, and the Serbs 28. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said he is "sure they will free these prisoners over the next week for we put enough pressure on them," Onasa reported on 24 March. The following day the Croats freed ten Serbs in Mostar, the International Herald Tribune noted. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON PLEDGES $25 MILLION TO REBUILD BOSNIA.

    But not all aid appears to be in limbo. The U.S. first lady and her daughter Chelsea visited Tuzla on 25 March and met American IFOR soldiers, Bosnian government officials, and Bosnian women and children who suffered during the war. Ms. Clinton promised $25 million to rebuild damaged homes and provide work for the huge number of unemployed, whose ranks have further swelled with demobilization. She talked with Vice President Ejup Ganic, who is filling in for the ailing Izetbegovic, about reconstruction, reintegration, women's affairs, and respect for human rights, above about freedom to express different religious and cultural traditions, Onasa reported. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] SARAJEVO CONFERENCE DISCUSSES BOSNIAN RECONSTRUCTION.

    The cost of rebuilding Bosnia will, in any event, be enormous. At a two-day international conference that began on 16 March in Sarajevo, Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic estimated the cost of rebuilding the country's housing, infrastructure, and factories to be $80 billion, Onasa reported. Of that, $16 billion is necessary to put the labor force -- some 700,000 people -- back to work. A pledging conference to be held in Brussels in April will have two working groups, one to discuss health and education and the other electricity generation. That is, if the gathering is not suspended because of the ultimatum on prisoner releases. -- Michael Wyzan

    [10] ROUNDUP OF CIVILIAN DEVELOPMENTS.

    Onasa on 20 March quoted the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt as saying that problems are already evident. He noted that the reconstruction budget is $500 million short and that this undermines the peace process that is now shifting into the civilian stage. An editorial in Oslobodjenje on 22 March warned that, in any event, humanitarian aid will have to be distributed "justly" to prevent social unrest. Volkswagen told Onasa on 24 March that it is not optimistic about restarting its Sarajevo plant, which the Serbs have gutted. -- Patrick Moore

    [11] NEW MOSTAR ADMINISTRATOR UNBURDENED BY HISTORY.

    Meanwhile, international involvement in Mostar is alive and kicking. EU foreign ministers on 25 March endorsed the appointment of Spain's Ricardo Perez Casado to replace Hans Koschnick as administrator in Mostar. He is a socialist politician from Valencia who is better known as a businessman, Onasa reported. The news agency added that Perez "admitted he does not know much about issues in Bosnia and Mostar, which is regarded in Brussels as a comparative advantage, because the new administrator will be more efficient in solving unfinished tasks in Mostar by not being burdened with the past." AFP the next day noted that, among the many aspects of the complex situation in the Herzegovinian city, is the presence of no fewer than seven police forces. -- Patrick Moore

    [12] STORM CLOUDS OVER THE FEDERATION...

    But while the problems between Croats and Muslims in Mostar and Sarajevo have been widely publicized, they exist elsewhere, too. In fact, there are so many signs of tensions between the two nominal allies that it is no accident that numerous observers have called these strains the top problem facing the peace process (see OMRI Special Report, 19 March 1996). The mayor of Zenica, Zoran Markovic, said that the moves by the Croatian nationalist Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) to create a HDZ-dominated canton in central Bosnia could lead to war because the project would call the entire Federation into question. But also in central Bosnia, Muslims are preventing Croatian refugees from going home to Bugojno. Croats further fear that Muslim refugees may be settled in Croat homes in Fojnica that are now being vacated by Muslims returning to Sarajevo. -- Yvonne Badal

    [13] ...AND BETWEEN SERBS AND THEIR NEIGHBORS.

    Some people in Bosnia have in fact noted that moves to restore the oil pipeline between Croatia and Serbia suggest that it is easier for Serbs and Croats to work with each other than with Muslims. But the Federation's mayor in Stolac, Andjelko Markovic, met with his Serbian counterpart from Ljubinje and concluded that "the war is finished only on paper." Meanwhile, the Muslim military who have taken control of the corridor between Sarajevo and Gorazde from the Serbs have begun clearing mines. In Gorazde itself, they have made military education compulsory in the schools, although religious instruction is optional. In Sarajevo, the anti-nationalist Serbian Civic Council (SGV) is interested in working with all progressive forces in Bosnia. The SGV hopes that former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic's new party will be a democratic bloc of all civic-oriented -- i.e. not ethnically-based -- parties. If not, the SGV is ready to form a separate party of its own. -- Yvonne Badal

    [14] BLEAK BALANCE SHEET FOR REFUGEES.

    Another group of Serbs that wants to put nationalism behind it are some thousands of refugees from western Bosnia. These people from Drvar, Petrovac, Glamoc, Grahovo, Sanski Most, Krupa, and Bihac want to go home regardless of who now governs those places. The UNHCR says that half of Bosnia's population was displaced during the war. Some 1,300,000 live as refugees abroad and another million live in Bosnia in other than their own homes. Bosnian officials say that some 20% of prewar housing has been destroyed and that another 40% has been damaged. -- Yvonne Badal

    [15] TENSIONS IN BANJA LUKA REGION OVER REFUGEES.

    And there are other displaced persons in western Bosnia having problems in going home. Onasa on 22 March quoted the UNHCR as saying that tensions are building near Banja Luka and Bosanska Gradiska after four Muslim families were forced to leave their houses. Serbs had staged protests in Bosanska Gradiska on 18 March, moreover, when three Muslim families expelled earlier sought to go back in keeping with a court decision. The UNHCR stressed the role of the local authorities, including the mayor of Bosanska Gradiska, in defusing the tensions. The right of refugees to return to their homes and property is one of the cornerstones of the Dayton system. -- Patrick Moore

    [16] RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICIAL ROSY ON RELATIONS WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.

    Elsewhere on Bosnian Serb territory, Mihailo Milojevic, head of rump Yugoslavia's chamber of commerce, said that his recent visit to the Republika Srpska was "most successful" and that there would in the very near future be development of economic links between Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs. While declining to give many specifics, Milojevic did say that his Bosnian Serb hosts were interested in reopening the Bijeljina-Sid and Ruma-Sabac-Zvornik railway links with rump Yugoslavia as well as establishing regular flights between Belgrade and Banja Luka. No concrete agreements on restoring the communication links were reached, but Milojevic stressed they would be "soon," Srna reported on 15 March. -- Stan Markotich

    [17] SERBIAN PRESIDENT FAVORS BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.

    Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has been commenting on the Republika Srpska, too. He said in Geneva on 18 March that elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina ought to be held as soon as possible. "The best way to stabilize the situation in Bosnia- Herzegovina is to overcome current problems, to apply the Dayton peace accord in a coherent fashion, and speed up preparation of the elections," he said. "Only representatives and institutions elected in a regular fashion can guarantee a normal life, in the Republika Srpska as well as the (Muslim-Croat) Federation and in the whole of Bosnia- Herzegovina," he added. This appears to have been a barb aimed at Bosnian Serb leaders, who were not elected but appointed by an assembly in 1991. Both AFP and Tanjug reported Milosevic's remarks. -- Stan Markotich

    [18] BELGRADE TO COOPERATE ON WAR CRIMES ISSUE?

    Milosevic, in any event,continues to be under international pressure to assist the war crimes tribunal, as he is obliged to do under the Dayton agreement. Nasa Borba on 13 March said that U.S. war crimes investigator John Shattuck the previous day met with Radoslav Kremenovic and Drazen Erdemovic, who were arrested by Serbian police in Novi Sad on 3 March in connection with war crimes (see OMRI Special Report, 12 March 1996). Shattuck also met with Milosevic, who reportedly was cooperative in facilitating the talks with the two men. Shattuck observed that he believed rump Yugoslavia was growing more cooperative on the war crimes issues, and that the Kremenovic and Erdemovic would be turned over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich

    [19] RUMP YUGOSLAVIA STILL SHIELDING WAR CRIMINALS.

    But despite Belgrade's claim that it intends to cooperate fully with the Hague court, and despite the apparent progress made on the Kremenovic and Erdemovic case, mounting evidence continues to suggest that Serbia is providing refuge for suspected war criminals. On 21 March Belgrade's independent Radio B92 reported on Veselin Sljivancanin, one of three Yugoslav army officers indicted in November 1995. He allegedly played a role in the shooting killings of at least 260 civilians in the Croatian city of Vukovar in 1991, which the Hague court is currently investigating. Apparently, he has not only been sheltered by rump Yugoslav authorities but also rewarded. According to the report, Sljivancanin was recently promoted from major to colonel and re-posted in Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich

    [20] "IS THE YUGOSLAV LEFT PUSHING ASIDE THE SDA SANDZAK?"

    There were, moreover, also developments in Sandzak, which is arguably the region where Serbian and Bosnian issues most directly come together. The region has a slight Muslim majority and borders on Bosnia, but it is divided between Serbia and Montenegro. The latest question to hit the press is whether the United Yugoslav Left (JUL) of Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic is trying to build up a power base there, Nasa Borba said on 25 March. It noted that Ferid Hamidovic has been appointed as Serbian deputy ecology minister. He is a communist-era ethnic Muslim functionary based in Novi Pazar, who later became member of the JUL. Nasa Borba also pointed out that Hamidovic earlier was a functionary of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and that he left his position as its local secretary, arguing that "the nationalist current in the SPS has won." Nasa Borba suspects the appointment of Hamidovic as the only Muslim in the Serbian government is part of an effort by Milosevic and his wife to take votes from the ethnic Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) of Sandzak in the upcoming Serbian elections. In another move perhaps aimed at the Muslim electorate, the Serbian Supreme Court on 20 March began to review the sentences of 24 Sandzak Muslims, who had been sentenced to a total of 87 years in prison in 1994. The Muslim National Council of Sandzak had described trials as staged and political, Onasa reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [21] REFUGEE COMMITTEE DEMANDS TALKS BETWEEN BELGRADE AND ZAGREB.

    Belgrade's relations with Zagreb have also been in the news. The head of the Belgrade-based Committee for the Return of Refugees to Croatia, Nevenka Uzelac, said that a massive return of Krajina Serb refugees would be possible only following direct talks between the Croatian and rump Yugoslav governments, Beta reported on 14 March. Uzelac pointed out that one of the main preconditions for the return of refugees from Serbia to Croatia is an amnesty law. In cooperation with the rump-Yugoslav Red Cross, the Committee is preparing a pilot project which would enable 30 to 50 families to return to Drnis in the Knin-Krajina area. Uzelac, who co-founded the Committee last November, made the statements at a meeting. That session was reportedly overcrowded with hundreds of refugees who showed interest in returning. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [22] 28,000 KRAJINA SERBS WANT TO GO HOME.

    Meanwhile, a representative of the Serbian Helsinki Committee, Ninko Miric, said he gave U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith some 14,000 forms filled out by Croatian Serbs wanting to go home. Galbraith will turn the documents over to the Croatian government. Miric added that some 28,000 Serbs have told the Helsinki Committee they want to participate in an organized return. Meanwhile, on 16 March a part of the former Krajina leadership -- including former RSK President Milan Babic -- founded a Serbian National Council of displaced people from Krajina. Babic called for the international community to guarantee the Krajina Serbs a collective return and said that collective rights should be granted to them along the lines of the Z-4 plan. The plan was proposed by Galbraith and the international community but not accepted by the Serbs before the Croatian military launched its offensives in May and August 1995. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [23] CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, UN REPRESENTATIVE DISCUSS EASTERN SLAVONIA.

    Turning to the one area of Croatia still under Serbian control, Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic and U.S. General Jacques Klein -- the UN Transitional Administrator for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem -- discussed the reopening of communication through the region, Beta reported on 15 March. The planned measures include resuming rail and air traffic between Belgrade and Zagreb and the reopening of the Croatian-rump Yugoslav motorway. Granic and Klein further discussed the problem of missing persons and a pilot-program for the return of Croatian refugees in Eastern Slavonia. Agreements between Belgrade and Zagreb are to be signed soon, and the reopening of the routes is expected in mid-April. Klein said talks between Belgrade and Zagreb were successful and expressed his satisfaction about progress towards a orderly return of the region to Croatia. Tudjman and Milosevic signed an agreement in Dayton that provides for framework of up to two years. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [24] SERBS STONE ALBRIGHT IN VUKOVAR.

    But not all is orderly in the area. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright on 21 March was jeered by Serbs yelling "you bitch" and "you fascist" during her visit to Vukovar to discuss the future of eastern Slavonia with Serb rebel leaders. Serbs then pelted her motorcade with rocks, damaging the vehicles but causing no injuries to Albright or her party, Mlada fronta Dnes reported on 22 March. She reminded the rebel leaders that all sides are expected to respect the conditions of the agreement reached last fall in Dayton between the Serbian and Croatian presidents, Nasa Borba noted. Local Serb leaders have been encouraging Serb refugees to settle there and hinting that they will hold a referendum on any return to Croatian authority, all of which is counter to the agreement. -- Patrick Moore

    [25] "SEARCH FOR NORMAL."

    Sarajevo, however, remains the center of attention for most observers of the dormant conflict. Three days after Grbavica's takeover and the reunification of the city, Sarajevo is limping, but nonetheless moving with obvious decisiveness to return to normal as fast as possible. The paradox of renewed urban bustle coexisting with the still discernible ghosts of the war, however, dares one to ask what is normal.

    Only hours after reunification, the rows of rusty blue, red and white containers, originally set up to block the view of snipers along Miljacka river, suddenly disappear. However, the war reflex to duck or hunch ones shoulders whenever crossing open spaces still lingers in the muscles of many Sarajevo's residents. But the newly unobstructed spaces are not yet drawing the fully free movement of unrestrained crowds: IFOR is only allowing those who can prove prewar residency to return.

    Still, one old gentleman sitting on a stone bench in front of the mosque in a central square commented optimistically that he could now look from one part of town into the other and that he felt free to breath again. Strangely, some people were finding renewed pleasure in realizing how ugly is the socialist architecture in the center in comparison with the city's older buildings. Daria Simic, a lawyer, commented that the idea that inhabitants are again taking note of the aesthetics of their surroundings rather than simply rating buildings in terms of their ability to avoid or withstand artillery fire is part of getting back to normal. She said this reawakening is a sign that the residents of Sarajevo can afford taste again.

    Cynics comment that while other places open mass graves, Sarajevo opens perfumeries. However window shopping along the new boutiques on Marshala Tita, the main street, is a visual and not a consumer experience for most. Benneton shopping bags seen in Sarajevo streets often contain nothing more fashionable than a cabbage, some potatoes, or an apple. Food selection remains limited and there is no sense in running from one shop to the next since what you cannot find in the first shop, you cannot find anywhere. Window glass and wall paint, or a new exhaust pipe for a car, or once in a while the luxury of a cup of coffee in one of the many small cafes - this in where money is spent.

    For the time being, normal means having windows to look out of, instead of UNHCR plastic sheets, and windows to look into, displaying the latest spring fashions instead of the last sacks of flour sent as humanitarian aid. Normality, for now, is knowing that a crashing noise indicates nothing more than war rubble being thrown down from a roof and that it is not followed by the wail of ambulances. -- Yvonne Badal is an OMRI special correspondent in Sarajevo


    Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

    This material was reprinted with permission of the Open Media Research Institute, a nonprofit organization with research offices in Prague, Czech Republic.
    For more information on OMRI publications please write to info@omri.cz

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