Reception on the Occasion of the Serbian Armed Forces Day
This evening, Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin and Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces Lieutenant Colonel Milan Mojsilović hosted a reception in the Guard Club at Topčider, to mark the 23rd April – Serbian Armed Forces Day.
The celebration was attended by Secretary General of the President of Republic of Serbia and Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces Nikola Selaković, representatives of the Government, SIA and Ministry of Defence, church and religious communities, diplomatic and military-diplomatic corps in our country, representatives of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces, public and cultural life and numerous guests.
Congratulating the holiday to the members of the armed forces on behalf of the President of the Republic and Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces Aleksandar Vučič, Secretary General of the president Selaković reminded of the historical importance of the date celebrated by the Day of the Serbian Armed Forces as its day.
- Then as well, two centuries ago, the Serbs looked ahead and looked maybe further and better ahead than others, particularly because then they also lived on a crossroads where they still live and because they were facing challenges that they are facing today as well – Selaković stressed.
According to him at one point someone tried to kill our armed forces, knowing very well that it was only by reducing and putting Serbian military to sleep, that one can put Serbian people to sleep and destroy it.
- As long the Serbs had the military, they were respected actor in Europe. When they stood on the strong-hold of Europe, against conquerors, they were the key defence, the most important element of military borders. That was they knew a bit better than the rest to love and cherish their freedom which means to love your own piece of land under the sky, protect your dearest ones and the weak and fight for the protection of your right without denying it to the other - Selaković emphasised.
- Today – he added – Serbia and the Serbian Armed Forces are confronted with no lesser challenges, and by strengthening the military, we are strengthening our militarily neutral position, which we were forced not to choose in unfortunate historical events, but it chose us instead.
- Serbia does not underestimate anyone, nor insult or disparage anyone. Serbia quite often remains silent, swallows a lump in the throat and moves on. And just like our President says – not because it is weak, but because it is wise and reasonable and because its task is to understand better and see more than others do – Selaković emphasised and added that by strengthening its armed forces and its combat readiness and most of all – investing in its members, Serbia sent a message that it would challenge no one, but that it would know to respond strongly and swiftly if anyone did it to Serbia beyond the limits of reason.
Secretary General of the President of Serbia, Nikola Selaković wished that the times of war were behind us, and that the Serbian Armed Forces celebrated every following holiday stronger and better equipped.
Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin underlined that the Serbian Armed Forces observed for two centuries the moment when the shrub of Takovo had caught fire of inappeasable desire for freedom.
- Then, like now, we were asked the same questions. Perhaps the names of those who pose them are different, and maybe the means which they use to blackmail us or ask something from us are different, maybe weapons are different, and different language of diplomacy or powers which exert force, maybe all of that is different, but the question which they asked then and now is always one and the same – What are you Serbs ready to do to be free, what are you ready to give to be free, is there something that you will not give to be free? The same questions have been resonating for centuries and the Serbs have been answering them for centuries in the same manner – everything for freedom, almost everything for peace, everything for the future of our children – Minister Vulin stressed adding that we had been answering the same questions for centuries in the same manner and that nothing had changed.
-Everything changes – he highlighted – except for the resolve of the Serbian people to be dignified and be free.
- There is no freedom without the military, without armed forces that are organised, strong, equipped, secured, satisfied, and proud. And there is no freedom without those who are ready to sacrifice themselves and give everything for it. There is no freedom without memory; the memory of those who set the shrub of Takovo on fire and those who, throughout centuries, did not allow that the flame of freedom die out. There is no free country without powerful and secure armed forces and there is no free land without memory and remembering – the minister of defence emphasised.
According to him, there were days, years and decades when Serbia bowed its head by itself as though ashamed of somebody else’s crimes, not having courage of a human and male, to say the truth about itself and the evil that it survived. Until 2012, they tried to transform our armed forces into some kind of association, without name and history.
- Before 2012 and until Aleksandar Vučić became the minister of defence, these armed forces had been doomed to reduction, decrease, disappearance, to forget about themselves, not to have right to call things their proper name. If had not been for that huge historical change, how would we today, twenty years after NATO aggression speak about what truly happened, and would we be brave enough to call things their proper name and say that it was NATO aggression and the last great crime of the 20th century? Would we be brave enough to say that we did nothing to cause or justify NATO aggression, just like we had not done anything to cause all the wars that we led in the bloody 20th century which had started with wars which we had not desire or asked, which later ended with the terrible aggression for which we were without blame whatsoever – minister Vulin assessed.
If we had not returned to ourselves – underlined the minister of defence – how would we look into our eyes, and would all those who protected and guarded this country in difficult times, the darkest times in our history stand so proudly today? Minister Vulin reminded “back in 1999, they turned their heads while an entire small and free nation was dying. Although truly alone – he said – we were with our military, and the military was with its people and they were one.
- And no one could say where the military stopped and where the people began. Just like those who bombarded us did not make difference between the front and the rear, since there was not the front and the rear. Everyone was a legitimate target, while every life was just “a collateral damage” until it turned to death. That is how it was. If it had not been for the armed forces, police and security services, all those brave men, who did not think about themselves, the people would not have had someone to look up to or to be with – Minister Vulin reminisced.
As he underlined “our armed forces are getting stronger today, and our security services are getting stronger too, and we make effort to make up for inherited errors made by the ones before us, by not doing, not working and wish to weaken and reduce the military and security services.
- Today, we are doing everything to pay homage to those who defended us, and not to allow somebody else to judge us, to write our history from which they would draw conclusions about our future and present. Today, we try to repeat all those glorious names, to learn them once again and say them with pride and gratitude. They are as valuable as our planes, our helicopters and tanks – the minister of defence stressed adding that there were countries with more materiel and assets, but that there were not countries which had more names to say with such pride.
Minister Vulin stressed that the times had gone when such people were not talked about, when their names had been secretly whispered in fear that we would be punished for their bravery and heroism, and he added that such times would never return.
- The Serbian Armed Forces – I wish you happy holiday! Serbia – may you be happy with such armed forces! Long live the Serbian Armed Forces, Long live Serbia! – Minister Vulin exclaimed at the end of his address.
The Serbian Armed Forces celebrate the 23rd April as their holiday in memory of the day, when on Palm Sunday in 1815, a decision was made to start the Second Serbian Uprising for liberation of Serbia from the Ottoman Empire, which subsequently enabled the creation of modern Serbian state.