The President of the Republic and the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces handed over military flags to the 72nd Special Operations Brigade and the 63rd Parachute Brigade
President Vučić: You are the bravest part of our people and the best part of us
The President of the Republic and the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, Aleksandar Vučić, the Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin, the Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, General Milan Mojsilović, the ministers of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, religious communities, local self-governments, the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces and numerous guests attended today’s ceremony of handing over military flags on the occasion of forming the 72nd Special Operations Brigade and the 63rd Parachute Brigade in the “Second Serbian Uprising“ Memorial Complex in Takovo.
President Vučić presented the flag of the 72nd Special Operations Brigade to the commander of the unit, Brigadier General Miroslav Talijan, who was the wartime Deputy Commander of the “Hawks“ (Sokolovi) Counter-Terrorist Battalion.
The President of the Republic presented the flag of the 63rd Parachute Brigade to its commander, Colonel Nenad Zonić, the former member of the wartime Command of the 63rd Parachute Brigade.
Addressing the audience, President Vučić said that the 72nd Special Operations Brigade and the 63rd Parachute Brigade are the two most elite units of our armed forces, which have always defended our homeland and which the citizens of Serbia have always been proud of.
- You have always received the first and the heavies blow. You have always been there for your people. When no one else wanted to go to certain battlefields, the members of the 63rd Parachute Brigade and the 72nd Special Operations Brigade always went there. You are the bravest part of our people, you are the best part of us – said President Vučić, emphasizing that he is proud of the fact that he can return to the members of the brigades “the flags of pride, the flags of honour“, which are the symbols of Serbia’s freedom, independence and honour.
- The flags of the 72nd Special Operations Brigade and the 63rd Parachute Brigade must never fall into the hands of enemy. By receiving these flags, you have made a pledge, but you have also been given an obligation and a warning for all of us, that, while those flags exist, while they are raised, we and Serbia exist – said the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces.
There is no better place than Takovo for handing over such flags, President Vučić pointed out, saying that Miloš the Great sparked off the Second Serbian Uprising at that very place.
- Today we do not call anyone to arms, but by handing over these flags we clearly tell everyone that we will protect peace and stability, but that we will get stronger and stronger and that we will be a tough nut for anyone who tries to crack it - President Vučić emphasized, adding that the armed forces are stronger today than they were before.
- They are stronger primarily because of you, because you are better equipped, and I would say, even more because you are ready to protect and preserve our homeland. These flags that I presented to you mean a lot because to take that flag, the flag of Serbia, the flag of freedom, tradition, history, of every bone with which it was sewn, every drop of blood that gave it colour - there is no greater honour and greater obligation than that - the President of Serbia emphasized reminding everyone of the fact that no member of the 63rd Parachute Brigade ever failed to respond to the call of the homeland.
- I have a special message for our veterans. Thank you for being here today, with us, for always being with us in the future, not only at events like this one, but whenever homeland needs you. Thank you for everything you have done for the homeland so far. We are not ashamed of you. We are proud of you - said President Vučić and added that we were not allowed to say these words for 20 years, but he utters them today because it is clear "that Serbia is stronger and prouder today and that the time has come to repay debts, at least the debts of honour, and to apologize to those who protected our homeland, and whom we treated not only carelessly, but often unjustly ”.
President Vučić had only one order for officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers at today's ceremony.
– To live for those flags and never to allow those flags to fall into anyone’s hands. To be the guarantor, the pillar, the shield, because that is the only way for them not to be stuck in the ground and left on the battlefield. To defend and protect them, just as you defend all of us, to love this country and every person in it, to be aware that your flag is – the flag of our people, our homeland, the flag under which we stand together – pointed out the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces.
He emphasized that today we need peace more than ever, and "it is possible to have peace only as long as these flags stand high, not as a threat, but as proof that we have become a country that no one has to fear, but that will never want or have to be afraid of anyone else."
Those flags, not only protect but also return to Serbia everything that we have lost so many times, and most of all pride in our homeland, history and ancestors. Those flags mean that we are still here, that our heads are raised high and that we are worthy of the glory of our ancestors and the future of those for whom we keep these flags. You and these flags are the guarantors of safety, security of each new day and each new child’s crib. And when you take these flags, you should know that we have given you our hearts and homeland with them, to you whom we trust, because you deserve trust, to you who will make sacrifices for the sake of the citizens of Serbia, for our Serbia - said the Supreme Commander and emphasized that they have shown it countless times "standing where no one else dared to stand".
- That is why today, by giving you these flags, we also give you the gratitude of Serbia, our Serbia and our people, a nation that finally remembered that the army is not just an armed force that should be given up for someone else's interest, but that it is the core, the essence of the existence of a state, as well as freedom and dignity that every flag carries, especially this one - President Vučić pointed out, noting that in recent years we have been doing everything to equip our armed forces better, to raise salaries, build apartments, improve the living and working conditions of the members and that "we will not stop doing that, knowing that you will always be prepared for frost and snow, ice, rain, mud, sweat, tears, blood, for your mother, your homeland, for Serbia ”.
President Vučić pointed out that all his messages and everything he said today can be summed up in one message.
- You are the ones who protect our country, who protect Serbia. Take care of the flags that you have received, they have been returned to you after 20 years, after a lot of bloodshed and sweat and after the policy of our shame and humiliation, but even today as we return to libertarian traditional values, I can only tell you: be what you have always been, protect Serbia, protect Serbia, protect Serbia. Long live Serbia - said the President of the Republic and Supreme Commander, Aleksandar Vučić.
At today’s ceremony, on behalf of all the members of the Serbian Armed Forces, the Chief of the General Staff, General Milan Mojsilović, presented the President of the Republic and the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, Aleksandar Vučić, with an officer’s sabre, “a symbol of soldier’s honour, morals and libertarian tradition“ for, as he pointed out, commitment, attitude towards the Serbian Armed Forces and for the care he shows for every member of the Serbian Armed Forces.
The commander of the ceremony and the wartime Commander of the 63rd Parachute Brigade, Major General Ilija Todorov, highlighted the importance of today's ceremony quoting the words of Field Marshal Stepa Stepanović who remarked that "the flag is the greatest soldier’s shrine, a sacred sign of soldier’s honour and duty, of soldier’s glory and pride."
- It reminds us of our oath, it reminds us of our two-headed eagle, and it waves proudly above our heads and follows us everywhere. That is why this is a great and historic day for our two elite brigades – General Todorov pointed out.
He also emphasized that, with today's handover of military flags, the 72nd Special Operations Brigade and the 63rd Parachute Brigade complete the organizational changes by which, based on the decision of the President of the Republic of Serbia, they have restored their old name and the status that they deserve.
- The two heroic and war units, both established in difficult times for our country and people - the 63rd Parachute Brigade in October 1944, and the 72nd Special Brigade in June 1992 - have always been the first to defend the homeland. Both units were awarded for their courage and heroic deeds during the execution of combat tasks. The 63rd Parachute Brigade was awarded the Order of the People's Hero and the 72nd Special Brigade the Order of the War Banner, First Degree. Even today, when military flags are presented to them, members of the special units of the Serbian Armed Forces stand proudly, aware that they are part of an elite formation with a glorious military and warrior tradition - General Todorov emphasized, adding that they certainly deserve the great honour to be presented with the flags by the President of the Republic of Serbia and the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces in this historic place.
The ceremony continued with a parade of units, during which spectators were able to see the air echelon of the Air Force and Air Defence units of the Serbian Armed Forces and the infantry echelons of the 72nd Special Operations Brigade and the 63rd Parachute Brigade. The sub-echelons also included veterans of those two units, participants in the 1990s wars, counter-terrorist operations in 1998 and participants in the defence against NATO aggression in 1999.
In the skies over Takovo, a flypast of a group of Mi-35 combat helicopters and H-145M light multi-role helicopters could be seen, as well as a flypast of a group of Eagle (Orao) fighter-bombers of the 98th Air Brigade and a group of MiG-29 fighters of the 204th Air Brigade.
The ending of the ceremony was marked by a demo jump from a Mi-8 aircraft by the "Sky Otters", a team of paratroopers - members of the 63rd Parachute Brigade, with newly acquired wing-type sports parachutes, from an altitude of 1,500 metres. The paratroopers were flying the flags of the Republic of Serbia, the Serbian Armed Forces, the 72nd Special Operations Brigade and the 63rd Parachute Brigade against the sky.
President Vučić and other guests who attended the ceremony then toured the exhibition of modern weapons and military equipment including the modernized M-84 tank.