Association of Military Volunteers in 1912-1918 Wars, their descendants and admirers award plaque to Minister Stefanović
Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Nebojša Stefanović, PhD, attended the opening of the exhibition "In the Jubilee Year - 110 Years since the First Balkan War", held at the National Assembly House. At the ceremony, he was awarded a plaque of appreciation for his contribution to preserving the time-honoured traditions of the Association of Military Volunteers in 1912-1918 Wars, their descendants and admirers. On that occasion, he said that we must never forget the history of our people and that it was important for us to be able to build a better future in this region now and in the future.
The statuette of Vojvoda Vuk, which is the Association’s highest award, was awarded to the President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, which was received on his behalf by Police General Milorad Veljović (retd), whereas the plaque was also awarded to the Speaker of the National Assembly Ivica Dačić and State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs Zoran Antić. Minister Stefanović, who delivered the address on behalf of all the laureates, thanked the Association of Military Volunteers in 1912-1918 Wars, their descendants and admirers for zealously preserving the Serbian tradition.
- The award from those who zealously preserve the tradition of our people and do not allow it to fade into oblivion, makes me feel deeply honoured, but also obliged to put in an even greater deal of effort in jointly preserving this tradition in the future. Together we celebrated the Victory in the First World War Day in our Military Museum and, I must say that all of you, wonderful people, descendants of great Serbian warriors, worked hard and with great love to make sure that the heroes are never forgotten and that they can rest in peace, knowing that their people and their country will never forget them. The aim of this outstanding exhibition in the National Assembly House, mounted in the year when we are celebrating the 110th anniversary of the victory in the First Balkan War, is to remind ourselves of all the remarkable feats of the glorious Serbian army. During that war, the army was led by Radomir Putnik, Stepa Stepanović, Petar Bojović, Božidar Janković, and a huge number of volunteers joined. Those people fought fearlessly for liberation. During those wars, many of them became great heroes and military leaders who would liberate and defend Serbia in the following years - said Minister Stefanović.
According to him, not only did they fight for and win freedom, the South Serbia and the Old Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija, but as the chroniclers recorded, Serbia emerged from that war as the most powerful state in the Balkans.
- Unfortunately, even during their lifetime, some of these great military names were not treated the way they deserved. Some of them were treated unfairly, and some of them were almost forgotten over time, and we, as a nation, should not have allowed any of that to happen. They all dedicated their lives to this country, set it free for future generations and left a permanent imprint on our history. And we must never forget the history of our people. It is important for us to be able to build a better future in this region today, but also tomorrow. And the Balkan Wars are both a good and a bad example of that - said Minister Stefanović.
According to him, the First Liberation War clearly showed that the united Balkan nations can win freedom and build a better life in this region, whereas the Second one showed the devastating consequences of exacerbating differences and divisions.
- That is why Serbia must not forget its history, must not stop defending its national interests and must respect all those who fought for that, but also its neighbours, offering President Vučić's Open Balkan Initiative which includes economic and other forms of cooperation in an effort to develop and create a better life for the people in this region, despite those who insist on profound differences and try to widen the gap between us. We want to go along the right path towards a modern, developed and rich Europe together. Knowing how dearly we paid for the freedom of our people, today we are firmly committed to strengthening our state and our military, hoping, as General Stupar said, that we will never have to use it, and that it will always be there as a guarantor of our independence and autonomy - said Minister Stefanović.
Opening the exhibition, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ivica Dačić, said he was glad that the Assembly was taking part in the organization of this exhibition.
- The National Assembly is the right place for such an exhibition and the best place to revive the memory of one of the most glorious periods in the history of our people and our state. The National Assembly is a symbol of our statehood and the nation's determination to build a free and independent Serbia. And that is why, after 110 years, this is the right place to remind and pay homage to all those who set out in 1912 to win independence and autonomy for our state, and to finally liberate us from the Ottoman occupation - said the Speaker of the National Assembly Dačić.
The exhibition reviewer, Major General Milorad Stupar (retd), expressed hope that the exhibition would be attended more by young people than the elderly.
- I am afraid that we are making a little mistake in educating our youth by not telling them enough about the heroic Serbian people, the people who have always been on the right side of history, the people who have always paid dearly for their freedom – with the lives of their best sons, the people who have always brought freedom to other nations - said Stupar.