Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

Main ceremony commemorating Remembrance Day for Victims of NATO Agression held in Sombor

The President of the Republic and Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, Aleksandar Vučić, attended the main ceremony commemorating the Remembrance Day for the Victims of the 1999 NATO Aggression, which was held at the St. George's Square in Sombor.

The ceremony commemorating the 24th anniversary of the beginning of the NATO aggression was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević, Chief of the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff, General Milan Mojsilović, and members of the Defence Minister’s and Chief of the General Staff’s collegiums.
Porfirije, the Serbian Patriarch, officiated memorial service for the victims, and the commemoration under the slogan “We will forgive if we can, but we will forget only if we are no more” was also attended by the President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, Speaker of the National Assembly, Vladimir Orlić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, government ministers and the representatives of religious communities and numerous citizens.

International law died 24 years ago, President Vučić said, noting that, at the time, great powers had tried to break the Serbian spirit but had not broken it, and never would.

- Twenty four years have passed since the beginning of the aggression on FRY, and tonight, after 24 years, the largest number of people so far have gathered here in Sombor, which tells us something good and something bad. And that is exactly why I have decided not to read prepared and beautifully written speeches tonight. Addressing you on this important day, I want to speak from the bottom of my heart for the first time, I want to say what I think and not to let my emotions get the better of me and thus harm our people and our country – said President Vučić.

Contemporary international law finally died 24 years ago - that sounds like an insignificant bureaucratic sentence, but it is much more than that, he said.
- Since then, nothing that is going on in the world can be worse than what they did to a small country whose only fault was that it wanted to be independent on its own soil, free and freedom-loving and, as such, it was not liked by those who created a new order in 1989 and 1990, in which only they decided about everything, while the disobedient were to be punished," said the President.
They succeeded in destroying the Soviet Union and proceeded to Yugoslavia, and then it was the turn of "disobedient Serbia, which did not want to accept diktats," he said.

- Today I was looking at the front pages of the world's most widely read magazines of that time. They said that it was a conflict between barbarism and civilization, giving inadequate explanations - we are fighting against those who are causing a humanitarian disaster, and saying - we are going to win those Serbs, those barbarians, because by doing so we will prevent genocide - President Vučić said.
  We mostly tried to hide their argumentation, he said. - Let us see what the truth is. When you talk about genocide, there must be an intention to destroy a nation, a religious group. They have made everything up. How can you prevent an attempt at genocide? It either occurred or it did not. No one has ever claimed that genocide occurred except Albanian henchmen whose plan was to build a career on that - said President Vučić.

Noting that their argument was that they were trying to prevent a humanitarian disaster, President Vučić said that they were arming insurgent groups in a free country that had never set foot on another country's territory.
- When they realized that they could not get approval from the UN Security Council, they thought, what do we need the UN Security Council for, what do we need law and justice for? We will do it on our own, we are the only ones, there is no one else but us in the world, the 19 biggest, strongest, most powerful of us will gather and attack that little free and freedom-loving Serbia," said Vučić.
They tore off parts of our territory, killed 89 of our children, 2,500 people, not only civilians, but policemen and soldiers as well, he said.

- Who are you to kill our soldiers and policemen on their own territory and in their own country? Who gave you that right? - asked the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.

Serbia does not want any conflicts, but it will never give away its soil to anyone, he said.

- My message to you is that we want peace and that we want no conflicts with NATO or anyone else, but we are telling everyone clearly: We will protect our country. And when we tell you what our red lines are, do not play with that and do not pressure us any further, because you will then get the answer of a proud, dignified and heroic Serbia, and our answer is: We are not giving Serbia away, and we will never give it away to anyone”, said President Vučić.
Speaking about Serbia today, President Vučić said that our armed forces were much stronger than they were 10 years ago and that people would have the opportunity to see that on April 22, at the display of military capability. The Serbian Armed Forces are much stronger today and we are no longer a small and easy prey as we were in 1999, we are much wiser and smarter, and we know that a great force would be ready to attack a freedom-loving country, just to prove that they were right, he said.

- And that is why we must not allow that, because we need to grow, to develop and protect peace – said President Vučić, saying that our armed forces must be deterrence in order for us to protect what is ours.

According to the President of Republika Srpska, Dodik, we gather at this place - not to remember, but not to forget what happened, because of the evildoers who had ordered the bombing of Serbia.

- As far as I am concerned, we will never forgive or forget them, regardless of the messages our Holiness sends us. We cannot forgive them because they were heartless. We cannot forgive them because they went all the way, not only to destroy us, but to underestimate and humiliate us. I cannot trust them and I never will - said Dodik.
We gather thanks to the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, so that aggression would not be forgotten and so that it would be called by its right name, because we are a nation that NATO referred to as collateral damage, he added.
  - Our people and our children died suffering from traumas that we could hear about from a family that had lost a father, and there are many such families. Still they tell us to forget and move on, but they have to understand that the Serbian nation is composed of the living and the dead, but also of those who are yet to be born," said the President of Republika Srpska.

Patriarch Porfirije officiated a memorial service for the victims and addressed the gathering. According to him, people have gathered in Sombor today to pray for the people who died in an inhuman and illegal aggression carried out by the greatest military force in history, in the most unequal armed conflict and an unbalanced force ratio on the battlefield since the beginning of time.

- In the city on which the first bomb was dropped on this day in 1999, in the same early evening hours, beginning the destruction of our wonderful and beloved homeland, our nature, and our property. Radovan Medić was killed, the first Serb among thousands killed and wounded. We remind ourselves and others that our people and the whole world need peace and mutual understanding above all, and that there is a place for every living soul under the Dome of Heaven, and that the people should organize themselves as they see fit," said Patriarch Porfirije.
According to him, in 1999, bombs destroyed not only military facilities, but also factories, homes, schools, kindergartens and water sources that provide Sombor with water. He called on everyone to pray for those who were unjustly killed by villainous gunfire from the sky, delivered by the "angels" who did not bring peace, but sowed death.
- Today we pray for our compatriots, the innocent victims. May God have mercy on their souls and grant them eternal rest – said Patriarch Porfirije.

Addressing the audience, Marijana Paskaš, the daughter of the killed Sergeant Major Radovan Medić, the first victim of NATO aggression, recalled the fateful night 24 years ago, when her father was killed while performing his duty.
  - I would like to thank the President of the Republic of Serbia and the State of Serbia for commemorating this day and thus preserving the memory of all the fathers, brothers, mothers, daughters and all the people dear to us who lost their lives during the 78 days of bombing. Thank you for being in Sombor tonight, the city where a man who had loved his family, but also his country, his people and freedom, lived and lost his life - said Marijana Paskaš.

This year, Sombor was chosen as the host city for the main ceremony commemorating the Remembrance Day, because it was here that the first bombs were dropped and the first human lives were lost. Namely, one of the first cruise missiles fired at the FRY hit the military airfield in Sombor at 7:55 p.m. on March 24, 1999. There was another attack on the airfield later that night and Sergeant Major Radovan Medić was killed.
President Vucic's address
Patriarch Porfirije's address
mp4 (355,31 MB)
Marijana Paskas' address
mp4 (171,57 MB)
The commemoration