Annual Press Conference of the Minister of Defense
Minister Vulin: The Serbian Armed Forces will protect and preserve the Serbs regardless of where they live
For the Serbian Armed Forces, the year 2018 was difficult, laden with a hostof security challenges, a year in which we had to counter numerous threats to the security and safety of our country and people, but also the year in which the Serbian Armed Forcesdemonstrateda renewed strength and progress in almost all fields. This was the year in which we intensively prepared and grew stronger, in which we worked hard to improve the material position of all our members, said Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin while presenting the results of the work of the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Armed Forces at a press conference also attended by the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant-General Milan Mojsilović and members of the Collegiums.
- The budget of the Ministry of Defense in relation to last year was increased by 24.6 billion dinars and it will amount to 95.1 billion dinars as of January 1, which is 35 percent more than in 2018. The bulk of the budget, apart from the nine percentincrease ofsalaries of our members, will be directed to equipping and armaments. The Ministry of Defense will not transfer any outstanding dinar in 2019, said Minister Vulin, stressing that the SerbianArmed Forces pay all financial obligations in full and carefully spend the budget funds. For 2018, he said, the budget execution will be 99.5 percent, which best describes how well the Armed Forces have carefully planned and taken care that everything planned was in accordance with the law and corresponding rules, which is evidence that the structure of our budget is almost ideal.
- At the onset of work of this composition of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff, we determined we wanted a strong and satisfied Armed Force. A strong Armed Forceis created by training and arming, and satisfactionthrough the fact that its position in society is improved and better material situation carefully observed. In 2018 our earnings were increased by 10 percent, and in 2019 will be increased by another nine percent. Enhanced remuneration applies to all soldiers serving voluntary military service, pupils, cadets, personnel on professional development also by 10 percent, and from 1 January, they will receive another increase of nine percent, said the Minister of Defense, adding that the conditions for increasing the salaries of research workers, experts in the Military Technical Institute, allowing their overtime work to be paid, was another way we are struggling with a market that is “hungry”for top experts and engineers whom we want to retain in the Serbian Armed Forces.
- When in 2012, Aleksandar Vučić became Minister of Defense of the SerbianArmed Forces and when we overtook responsibility of running the state of Serbia, the average monthly salary was EUR 558. From 1January it will be EUR 681. Non-commissioned officers received an average of EUR 384, and from 1January, they will receive EUR 486. Professional soldiers earned an average of EUR 293 in 2012. Following all the measures, great battle and firm austerity and the great campaign that Vučićled as Prime Minister, starting 1 January soldiers will receive an average of EUR 359. Military servants and employees received at that time EUR 349, which will from 1January amount to 439 euros – saidMinister Vulin, adding that the stories that the Armed Forcesare now living in worse conditions are simply not true. In accordance with the order of the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, the salaries for members of the Special Brigade increased, depending on the rank of the unit. Thus, the salary in the companyis increased by 6.500 dinars, in the battalion by 4.000 dinars, and in the brigade by 3.000 dinars. Moreover, he said, solidarity was also introduced for the birth of a child in the amount of average net salary, which has so far been realized for 1.797 children.
This year, Minister Vulin emphasized, the housing issue was resolvedfor 747 members of the System, and on the initiative of the President of the Republic and the Supreme Commander, a law was passed on special conditions for the implementation of a housing construction project for members of the security forces whose implementation is expected.
Minister Vulin pointed out that the Armed Force is being equipped and armed.
- This is good news for anyone who cares about peace, since only if you have a strong Armed Force you can rest assured there will be no war. In accordance with the provisions of the agreement signed with the Russian Federation, six Mig-29 aircraft have been provided so far currently amounting to nine operational MIG-29s. Next year, within the framework of military-technical assistance, four more MIGs will arrive from Belarus. The implementation of the project of procurement of five H145-M helicopters for the SerbianArmed Forcesin cooperation with the “Airbus”company is in progress. Agreements on procurement of four combat Mi-35M helicopters and three transport Mi-17 helicopters were concluded. In addition, the resources for eight “Orao” (“Eagle”)planes have been renewed, and are currently running for four more. The modernization of the “Supergaleb G-4” aircraft is also in progress. All this indicates that 2018 is the year when the Air Force was preserved, reinforced and restored in its rightful position.
The Minister added that only what you produce and do yourself is yours, while everything else can be the subject of politics, blackmail and trade. Only what you make yourself makes your country independent and capable of equipping and defending itself.
- Over the course of 2018, 29 new capabilities from domestic development were introduced into the Serbian Armed Forces. The best result prior to this was during 2009 when eight were introduced. These are field vehicles manufactured by FAP, modernized “KUB”s, modernized radars, the basis of the M16 fighting armored vehicle, a set of protective ballistic equipment M-17. There are also Lazar 3, Nora, Lasta and other capital systems that alter the capabilities of the Serbian Armed Forces, the Minister of Defense said, adding that we have not had such outstanding results for decades.
In the passing year, we have had many exercises, he said, highlighting “Sadejstvo2018” (“Combat 2018”), “Zajednički udar” (“Joint strike”), “Stena4” (“Rock 4”).
- Joint tactical combat drill exercise “Century of Victors 1918-2018” is an exercise by which we honor the memory of our ancestors, but also reinsure our descendants by proving they have an Armed Forcecapable of providing their safety, security of our country and our people regardlessof where they live. Eight thousand members of the Serbian Armed Forcesimplemented a simultaneous exercise in ten locations in the Republic of Serbia and performed their tasksto the letter– saidthe Minister, adding that more than 650 combat vehicles were deployed in this exercise, and more than 126 tons of ordnance used, which is proof that Serbia has an Armed Forcethat is constantly trained and prepared, capable of responding to every challenge and implementing every order. Reacting in ten different sites simultaneously in such a way, the Minister of Defense pointed out, is something evenArmed Forces much richer than ours are perhaps incapable of doing.
Our Armed Force, he said, is participating in multinational exercises, exchanging experiences with other armed forcesthat havea lot to learn from our members.
- The Serbian Armed Forcesstrictly adhere to the policies of the state leadership on military neutrality and are trying to have approximate numbers of exercises with the countries from both the east and of the west. We learn from every one we have something to learn form, transfer our knowledge and make sure that the policy of military neutrality is implemented and represented in the proper way. The Serbian Armed Forcesand the Ministry of Defense are very active on the international scene. We had 967 international military cooperation activities, and maintaincommunication with over 60 countries – said Minister Vulin, who met with the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation three times in a row, twice with the Defense Minister of the People’s Republic of China, with the Defense Ministers of France and the United Kingdom, stressing that he does not know many countries of our size and the armed forcesof our numbers who had so many meetings at the highest level, followed by concrete results, which speaks of a changed attitude towards Serbia and our Armed Force.
Minister Vulin pointed out that in the course of last year, a significant investment was made in infrastructure, and we should not forget that we are a country that is heavily affected by the NATO bombing, the consequences of which it is still difficult for our armed forcesto recover from, as evidenced by 80 facilities that are still contaminated by unexploded devices from the time of the bombing.
- Construction of hangars for helicopters in Nišis underway, construction of facilities for housing of aircraft at Batajnica airport as well, and the single helidrome that will actually meet all standards prescribed in the Republic of Serbia will be opened at the Military Medical Academy shortly. In addition, the reconstruction of facilities for overhaul of communication and electronics facilities in the Technical and Repair Institute Čačak is being carried out, works on the rehabilitation of water supply facilities at the Nikinci Research Center also, the Minister of Defense said.
According to Minister Vulin, 2018 was a difficult year, the year in which we combated numerous security challenges, the year in which we strengthened and equipped our Armed Forces.
- The following 2019 will be no easier, it will be a year in which the Republic of Serbia, its state leadership, and in the first place the President, will have to support much pressure; however 2019 will be the year in which we will become stronger, better armed, in which we will raise our levels of training, our physical readiness, in which we will significantly increase the quality of life and the standard of all our members. The Serbian Armed Forces will be far militarily stronger in 2019, we may be able to say for the first time that in the regional contextwe are an Armed Force to be reckoned with, equipped with the most modern capabilities and members trained to use them. It will be a year of serious challenges that are beyond us, but challenges we can respond to when they arise. Citizens of Serbia can be proud of their Armed Forces, secure and peaceful – they,their way of life, but also all Serbs, regardless of where they live, will be protected and preserved, Minister Aleksandar Vulin concluded.