Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

Minister Stefanović Lays Wreath on the Occasion of Anniversary of Death of Milunka Savić

Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Nebojša Stefanović PhD laid a wreath at the New Cemetery in Belgrade at the commemoration of the anniversary of death of Milunka Savić and 110 years of her admission in the Serbian Army. On that occasion, he stated that our Serbia, led by President Aleksandar Vučić, is today, just like Milunka Savić was, an unbreakable fighter - never quits, fights for its own, preserves freedom and independence, respects both East and West, and follows its own path - the Serbian path.
Accompanied by Lieutenant General Goran Radovanović PhD, and Brigadier General Sava Iriškić, Minister Stefanović laid a wreath at the monument at the New Cemetery dedicated to Thessaloniki front warrior Natalija Bjelajac.

- The identity of a nation is largely defined by its past which is a weaving made of its constitutional elements such as tradition, system of values, cultural patterns and history. Today we are standing here proudly with our heads held high, and we remind ourselves of those who created the identity of the Serbian people, of those who left clear guidelines for us as to how to protect that identity, and they left us the legacy to pay homage to free Serbia. This is the year when we mark the 110th anniversary of the First Balkan War. But the victory in that war or the defence in the Second Balkan War did not bring the end to Serbia’s fight for freedom. The heroes that emerged from these wars and in the First World War reached the world’s heights and became legends. The entire world was confused by the toughness, steadfastness and superhuman courage of Radomir Putnik, Živojin Mišić, Petar Bojović, Stepa Stepanović and every Serbian soldier. Both the allies and enemies - Minister Stefanović stated.
As he pointed out, they were baffled by the tiny Serbian people and its enormous love for their fatherland and freedom.

- At the same time, one woman, Serbian warrior, left the powers breathless both in the West and the East. The heroine of the Balkan and the First World War, Sergeant in the Second Regiment of the Serbian Army “Prince Mihailo”, got recorded in the history of the world warfare as the woman with the greatest number of decorations. It was the time when it was unthinkable for a woman to stand in the military line, but that did not prevent Milunka, a bluff and resolute woman to join the Serbian Army, at first as Milun (‘Translator’s note’: the male version of female name Milunka). When she was discovered after having been shot in the Battle of Bregalnica, she refused to be transferred to Medical Corps, and waited patiently to be allowed to return to battle. And there were many battles indeed - the minister of defence said.

He reminded that Milunka Savić had been wounded in battles even nine times and decorated 12 times receiving the highest Serbian and world decorations.

- The commendation for the heroism of Serbian Sergeant Milunka Savić was read in 1918 in front of the line of all units of the Allied powers, which was the honour that was not shown to any officer or general. After the war, besides her own, Milunka raised more Serbian children, orphans. She died on this date in Belgrade. In many ways our Serbia was embodied in the figure of Milunka Savić, and Serbia expressed its being and essence precisely in this heroine. They named her Serbian Joan of Arc, and we as a nation are very proud of it, but in fact, Milunka Savić was her own, unique, and her name and her feats were carved in history. She belonged to Serbia, and she was precisely everything that Serbia is. Resolute, brave, and proud, ready to make various sacrifices, because she knew that she was defending what was hers, that she was righteous, that she did not hate - because she did not know how to hate and did not want to, without asking anything that was someone else’s, loving freedom from the bottom of her heart - the minister said.

As he pointed out, Serbia knows, just like Milunka Savić did back in 1912, that it takes mettle and wisdom, and that there is no hurdle too difficult to overcome when you are fighting for the right thing.
- Being a warrior is the essence of its being, just like it was the essence of Milunka, and when you are such kind of a warrior, the world respects you - Minister Stefanović said.

He reminded that Natalija Bjelajac, born Antonija Javornik, followed the footsteps of Milunka Savić.

- They called her the Slovenian woman with Serbian heart, and she was recorded in history as a foreign woman with the greatest number of Serbian decorations. She decided to join our military following the example of her uncle, who had previously been an officer of the Austro-Hungarian military, who would tell that Serbia was the only country governed by freedom which was why he put on our uniform. We observe important anniversaries today, 110 years since Milunka Savić joined the Serbian Army, and the anniversary of her death, and this was also the day on which the urn of Natalija Bjelajac was laid. They were great female warriors, despite prejudices of their time that war was exclusively a male thing. Today, they would have been proud of all the ladies who bravely march in the lines of Serbian Armed Forces with the same love for their fatherland - Stefanović said.

As he underlined, we paid our respects on that day to Milunka and Natalija and expressed our gratitude for the sacrifice they made for our fatherland.
- It was not in vain. Their shadows live through our Serbia, and Serbia , led by President Aleksandar Vučić, is today, just like Milunka Savić was, an unbreakable fighter - never quits, fights for its own, preserves freedom that our forefathers won for us, preserves independence, respects both East and West, but follows its own path - the Serbian path. It waged many wars, which is why it is determined to highly value peace, to protect it, just like it protects its identity, and to build roads of development and safer future for new generations, but adamant in not giving what is its own - Minister Stefanović stressed.

The Association of war volunteers 1912-1918, which organised today’s ceremony of paying homage to Serbian heroines, took the opportunity to express gratitude to Presidentof the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and Minister Stefanović for cherishing traditions, exceptional betterment of the status of veterans, strengthening capacities and position of members of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces.

The ceremony was attended by descendants of Milunka Savić, and apart from the said Association, wreaths were laid by State Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs Miodrag Kapor, representatives of the city of Belgrade, city municipality of Zvezdara, representatives of embassies of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Russian Federation, SUBNOR of Serbia, Association of Veterans of the 72nd Special Brigade and others.
mp4 (83,38 MB)
The wreath-laying ceremony
mp4 (476,42 MB)
Minister Stefanovic's address