"On April 1 NATO planes..." Danube & bridges Tip by Dalibor79

Danube & bridges, Novi Sad: 19 reviews and 20 photos


Favorite thing: On April 1 NATO planes destroyed the Varadin bridge over the Danube to be followed 2 days later by the destruction of the Bridge of Liberty. Although Janvier Solana, the secretary-general of NATO, had declared right at the start of the bombing campaign that NATO was not at war with the Yugoslav people, this claim quickly lost any credibility with the citizens of Novi Sad. The Bridge of Liberty, for instance, was bombed at eight o'clock in the evening when traffic was busy. (The Varadin bridge had been bombed at five in the morning). Several people died in the attack while others were rescued by fishermen nearby. The first attack on the last remaining bridge - Zezelj's bridge - came on April 5 but it took NATO five attacks and three weeks before the bridge was finally destroyed. Locally known as 'Samantha Fox' in reference to the two arches that formed the construction, Zezelj's bridge collapsed into the Danube on April 26.

One reason for the destruction of the bridges seems to have been to prevent the Yugoslav army located in the Vojvodina from moving south to Kosovo. However, none of these troop movements took place during the war. Moreover, it would have been more logical to destroy two bridges thereby forcing any troops to cross the Danube over just one bridge. In that event the Yugoslav military columns would have been 'sitting duck' targets for NATO planes. At the same time, the danger of collateral damage would have been negligible given the width of the river at Novi Sad.

This view was shared by Bojan Pajtic, the spokesman of the Novi Sad Democratic Party. The Democratic Party and its national leader Zoran Djindjic are favoured by the West. Mr Pajtic expressed disappointment and anger with NATO's decision to destroy all bridges, whereas he could have understood the destruction of two for military reasons.

For the inhabitants of the city on the right bank of the Danube the destruction of the bridges meant the loss of water supply. Pipes attached to the bridges had transported the water to the quarter of Novi Sad known as Srem. The only drinking water available at the moment is transported by the Red Cross in tanks to serve the 34.000 inhabitants who are without running water.

Transport is another problem. Ferries cross the river regularly. But many people use the services of locals who cross the river in small boats of any variety and charge ten dinars. For someone, who has to cross the river twice a day to and from work 20 dinars is a lot of money on a salary of 1000 dinars a month. Stevan Vrbaski, the mayor of Novi Sad, estimated that 30.000 to 50.000 people a day cross the river in this way. With the start of schools and the university in the autumn this number is expected to increase. Moreover, bad weather and heavy winds can make the crossing hazardous even too dangerous to risk. So far the NATO states have refused to countenance reconstruction aid until President Milosevic is replaced.

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 25, 2002
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