Ceremony to mark Peacekeeping Operations Centre Day and 20th anniversary of Serbian Armed Forces’ participation in multinational operations
A ceremony to mark the Peacekeeping Operations Centre Day and the 20th anniversary of participation of the Serbian Armed Forces in multinational operations was held at the Guard Club in Topčider tonight. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević and Chief of the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff, General Milan Mojsilović were in attendance at the ceremony.
Extending his best wishes for the holiday, Minister Vučević said that he was certain that the General Staff, headed by General Mojsilović and all senior officers, would do its best to send the most competent SAF soldiers to multinational operations to assist those in need.
- On behalf of the Ministry of Defence, I would like to congratulate all of you who have represented Serbia and made contribution to peacekeeping in all parts of the world where our armed forces have been deployed, on the 20th anniversary of the return of the Serbian Armed Forces to this format of missions. I also congratulate you, Colonel Milenković, Chief of the Peacekeeping Operations Centre, on the jubilee, hoping that you and your associates will continue to prepare all the brave people who have decided to dedicate part of themselves to saving the lives of the people in distant parts of the world who equally deserve to live in peace – said Minister Vučević.
According to him, Serbia wants to participate in UN and EU peacekeeping operations and missions wherever it can.
- Unfortunately, we have seen and experienced the importance of peacekeeping missions in these parts as well, even in today’s circumstances. Even now we watch with anxiety what is happening in our southern province and in the region, believing that those who are deployed there as representatives of the international community, are aware of their responsibility and that they have the capability to achieve their specific goal. For that reason, the Serbian Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian state have a specific approach to this matter and act with great care when it comes to the formal execution of tasks, but there are other things at play, too, such as emotions, compassion, concern and care. But Serbian soldiers have always been like that, wherever they were deployed. You covered yourself with glory wherever you went and whatever you did – emphasized Minister Vučević.
According to the Minister of Defence, our Military Academy cadets, who are the future not only of the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces, but also of our country, are obliged to carry on like that, with their heads raised high, just like their predecessors and veterans did, just like members of the Serbian Armed Forces are doing now in current missions and peacekeeping operations.
- That is something that obliges you, that makes you specially privileged to be part of this organization. I am certain that the General Staff, headed by General Mojsilović and all senior officers, will make sure that the most competent soldiers are deployed to peacekeeping operations, that they help the people living in those parts and that they return home safely – said Minister Vučević.
Our moral obligation, he said, is to take care of the families of those who lost the most valuable thing, their lives, trying to preserve peace in the parts of the world distant from us.
The Minister of Defence also reminded of the long-standing tradition of Serbia’s participation in multinational operations.
- We have always been on the right side of history, preserved peace and respected everyone’s freedom, and nobody has the right to take that away from us. That is why we ask everyone for understanding and respect for our right to freedom and peace. Thank you very much. Long live the Serbian Armed Forces, long live Serbia! – said Minister Vučević.
On the occasion of the Peacekeeping Operations Centre Day, Minister Vučević awarded the Plaque of the Ministry of Defence to the Chief of the Peacekeeping Operations Centre, Colonel Mirjana Milenković, PhD.
Addressing the audience, the Chief of the Peacekeeping Operations Centre, Colonel Mirjana Milenković, gave a special salute to the members of the advance element of the Yugoslav detachment who had landed on the hot sand of Sinai in 1956, and to all veteran peacekeepers from these parts who had participated in multinational operations.
- I would like to convey to you the greetings from all 285 members of the Serbian Armed Forces who are currently deployed in UN and EU missions and operations, worthily representing the Serbian military and medical professions and proudly waving the flag of the Republic of Serbia – said Colonel Milenković.
Over the last 20 years, she reminded, the participation of the Serbian Armed Forces members in UN missions has steadily increased, and 10 years ago, we started participating in EU peace support missions.
- So far, a total of around five and a half thousand members of the Serbian Armed Forces have been deployed in 10 UN missions and six EU missions, of which 12 percent are women, which indicates that the Serbian Armed Forces respect gender equality, in accordance with UN resolutions – Colonel Milenković pointed out.
Unfortunately, she said, the deployment of our members in peacekeeping missions involves the grave risk of losing their lives.
- The tragic death of our colleague, Lieutenant Colonel Dejan Stanojević, who lost his life on March 29, this year, when his helicopter was shot down while performing aerial reconnaissance, is an irreparable loss for his family, but also for our military and our country. He gave his life for a noble cause, for something he believed in, performing his military duty, and we will do our best to be worthy of his sacrifice and to remain committed to defending peace, both at home and abroad – said Colonel Milenković.
According to her, the members of the Serbian Armed Forces receive hearty praise for their engagement, they are deemed to be top professionals, well-trained and highly disciplined.
- The results our service members achieve while deployed in multinational operations, and the results the Peacekeeping Operations Centre achieves in making that possible, with strong support and assistance from the state and military leaderships, provide a binding basis for further capability building and we are ready to respond to such challenges even more successfully – said Colonel Milenković.
On this occasion, Head of the Operations Department, General Staff, Lieutenant General Želimir Glišović, presented the Peacekeeping Operations Centre’s certificates of appreciation for generous assistance and support to the Guard Commander, Brigadier General Nikola Dejanović, the Commandant of the Military Academy, Colonel Srđan Blagojević, PhD, the Head of the Public Relations Department, Colonel Mihailo Zogović, PhD, as well as to the representatives of “Nikola Tesla” Airport, the "Belgrade Airport" company, "Konstantin Veliki" Airport, Niš, and the "Yugoimport SDPR" company.
During the ceremony, Colonel Dragan Ivković, Deputy Chief of the Peacekeeping Operations Centre, presented the monograph entitled "20 Years of Participation of the Serbian Armed Forces in Multinational Operations", which had been printed for this important occasion, and which had been created in cooperation with the Media Centre "Odbrana" and the Military Printing Office, subordinate units of the Public Relations Department. On the same occasion, the documentary film "Participation of the Serbian Armed Forces in Multinational Operations" was premiered. The film was made in cooperation with the Operations Department, General Staff, and the "Zastava Film" Military Film Centre, Public Relations Department.
The cadets of the Military Academy and the students of the Military High School gave a performance at the event, together with their teachers and professors.
The ceremony was also attended by the Minister of European Integration, Tanja Miščević, PhD, Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia Emanuele Giaufret, members of the collegiums of the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the General Staff, family members of the tragically killed Lieutenant Colonel Dejan Stanojević, representatives of the military-diplomatic corps, veterans, the Centre’s former members and chiefs, cadets of the Military Academy and representatives of the institutions of the Republic of Serbia.
The Peacekeeping Operations Centre Day commemorates November 17, 1956, when the advance element of the Yugoslav Army, consisting of 44 members, stepped on the Sinai soil, ten days after the UN General Assembly Resolution had established the UNEF mission. The participation of Yugoslav forces in peacekeeping missions began with that peacekeeping operation.