by Dimana Trankova; photography by Anthony Georgieff
Thirteen years after the siege, which between 1992 and 1996 made Sarajevo the symbol of the disintegration of former Yugoslavia, the city continues to fight. Today, however, its citizens are not trying to survive the bullets or missiles launched by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and the Army of Republika Srpska while lacking sufficient power, water or access to humanitarian aid.
This time, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina is fighting to establish itself as a tourist destination in the competitive western Balkans market. It is not an easy fight. The coastline of Croatia and, to a lesser extent, that of Montenegro, get the lion's share of tourist attention. Sarajevo – indeed the whole country – still bear the scars of war. Cemeteries crop up in the most unexpected places, such as the one next to the stadium in Sarajevo, where part of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games was held. And signs of shelling can still be seen on the façades of buildings on both sides of Snipers' Alley, the informal name for a main road in Sarajevo, which during the war was lined with snipers' posts.
But the citizens of Sarajevo are trying to restore their city's reputation and former glory as a cultural and culinary capital of the western Balkans. They hope it will attract the world's attention the way it did with the 1984 Olympics.
Sarajevo combines the best and the worst of the Balkans. Life here began in the Neolithic period. The Romans founded a city next to the thermal springs of the present day suburb of Ilidža. The Slavs arrived in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Ottomans conquered them in the middle of the 15th Century and gave Sarajevo its bridges, its high street, its mosques, and even its name. In Arabic, saray means "palace." The Hapsburg' attempts to turn Sarajevo into a modern European capital had mixed results. They erected fine fin-de-siècle buildings next to Ottoman houses. They introduced the first trams to this part of Europe, as well as the first electric street lights in Austria-Hungary. But Austrian domination set in motion the forces of local nationalism and the desire to turn Yugoslavia's dreams into reality. One of the consequences was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, which triggered the Great War.
Sarajevo's Yugoslav heritage is even more of a mixed blessing. In spite of the siege and the war, one of the city's main streets is still called Marshall Tito.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers