January 2, 1996

Together is the Only Way

Cardinal Puljic: Let it be seen that this land is our only homeland. President of SGV (Serbian Citizen's Council) Mirko Pejanovic: Do not fall for propaganda that Sarajevo will be Tehran. President Alija Izetbegovic: Serbian civilians can stay in their homes, except for the criminals, which we will prosecute.

By Milorad Obradovic

In the last few days of 1995 Presidency of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina abolished state of war on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following this, Minister Muharem Cero requested from the cabinet to declare that official New Year's holiday be two days. Such was not the view of other members of the cabinet, because the "immediate danger of war is still in place," so factories will be shut down for only one day.

When the average personal income is considered (around 50 DEM a month), then there is no reason why employees should be enraged by this decision. In fact, the holiday season has lost its sense around here a long time ago. This is especially true of the military personnel, who wouldn't dare think about any celebration unless there were news of demobilization.

Still, until then Sarajevans use every occasion to meet and have dinner together. It was so during the (Catholic) Christmas -- same is to be expected for the New Year's Eve. Aware that it has to be this way, because in the current circumstances it cannot be different, every conversations reduces to the idea that there is no other way but life together.

Such is the opinion of most civilians, but the same story is coming from the "upper spheres." At the Christmas reception, Archbishop Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Pujic said that political will is a necessary precondition for any peace to actualize, so that all possible burdens on the rest of the process would be lifted. "Let us hope that ideology and mythology of history and political aims - - are history. Let us open the possibility for normal life, and help the right of everyone to come back to their homes become reality," said Puljic, asking that "we should do everything to be recognizable in our differences. Nobody should build their identity on the account of another. Let it be seen that this land is our only homeland, and that we should stay here."

Before New Year's president of the Serbian Citizens' Council (SGV) Mirko Pejanovic, spoke once again to the Serbs of Ilidza, Grbavica, and Vogosce, delivering a message of trust in the peace process. "Do not fall for propaganda that Sarajevo will be Tehran. Instead, it will be more like New York, Brussels, a multicultural and multiethnic environment, city of equal rights for all its citizens and nations," said Pejanovic in the name of SGV. In the last two years SGV fought for universal principles and universal protection of human rights, for which it received an international alternative peace prize.

Meeting with American Ambassador in Bosnia, John Menzis, Pejanovic stressed that trust of the Serbian population around Sarajevo in the peace process will also depend on the future actions of the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. "It is a crucial moment in the implementation of the peace agreement and for retaining of the Serb civilians to bring about the appropriate legislation regarding amnesty," said Pejanovic during talks with Menzis. He also informed Menzis of the SGV initiative to arrange a meeting of respected Serb citizens from parts of Sarajevo under the control of Government of BH and Serbs from Grbavica, Ilidza, Ilijas, Vogosce and Hadzic.

President of the Presidency of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and President of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) used the New Year's SDA press conference to express his opinion about the faith of Serbs around Sarajevo. "We were given bitter and cold peace," said Izetbegovic, "and into 1996 we go with the recognition that nothing is yet final. But the war is over."

Stressing that "Serb civilians can stay in their homes, except for criminals, which we will prosecute," Izetbegovic reminded journalists of the letter with the same message he sent to the Commander of the Peace Forces in Bosnia, Admiral Layton Smith.

While we are at letters, for the establishment of trust between the "two sides" in and around Sarajevo, it is important that telephone lines be reinstated. According to the PTT (Post Telegraph Telephone) director for Sarajevo Adnan Mujagic, telephone lines between Bosnia, Yugoslavia and the Serbian entity in Bosnia could be reestablished early in 1996.

All the necessary conditions for such an act are in place, but "the other side has not responded to such initiatives. Serbian side has not been cooperative on the issue of communication links in the unified Sarajevo" -- those were the words of Mujagic.

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