Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

President Vučić: Freedom is the highest value that we must cherish and protect

A ceremony commemorating March 17, 2004, the pogrom against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, was held tonight at Belgrade’s National Theatre, with the President of the Republic and Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, Aleksandar Vučić, in attendance.
The ceremony marking the March Pogrom Remembrance Day was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević and Chief of the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff Gen. Milan Mojsilović.

Addressing the audience, the President of Serbia said that this kind of gathering was an additional obligation.

- Today I will talk about March 17 twenty years ago, about the powerlessness of the Serbian state and its inability, despite the heroism of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, to defend itself from the Albanian scourge, but I will also talk about what we are going through today and I will try to provide clues as to what will happen in the future and what we have to do. Twenty years have passed since the crime was committed, without justice for the victims, without punishment for the criminals and now the question arises, what do we have left in the end? What should we say to ourselves, to the world, and most importantly to the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija who experienced the pogrom on March 17, 2004, when ten of their people were killed, almost 1,000 were injured, 4,000 were permanently evicted from their homes, 900 of their houses were destroyed, and 35 churches and monasteries were damaged and destroyed - said President Vučić.
There is something that no one can take away from us - the right to the truth, he said.
  - Even though the truth is presented as something worn out today, something mutilated, abused and worthless, I still believe that it is the light without which we would live in eternal darkness. We need it and we must not be silent, even when they are trying to convince us that we do not know what we are talking about. It is not spite, it is our refusal to live without light and to be forgotten - said President Vučić and added that in a world devoid of principles, the truth is the only bulwark behind which we can survive.

Quoting the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, President Vučić said that the truth must go through three stages: the first one in which it is mocked, the second one in which it is forcibly rejected, and the third one in which the truth is understood and accepted.
- We have been through the mocking stage. Today we witness the outright rejection of the truth and a vigorous fight against it. In addition, we are told that there are different truths, and that those that are the same can be interpreted differently depending on the circumstances. The principle of the inviolability of state borders has been violated in Ukraine. Yes it has, but the same does not apply to Serbia. The attack on Ukraine is unlawful, but the one against Serbia carried out by 19 countries without the consent of the United Nations, contrary to international law, was not - stressed President Vučić, adding that when Serbia demands the same things as other countries in the world, it is accused of endangering others, of arming itself and being a threat.
  The pogrom continues, said President Vučić referring to current events.
- In all these 20 years, we haven’t harmed or attacked anyone, we haven’t threatened anyone, and for the better part of that period we were silent, pretending we didn't exist just so as not to upset those who had done all this to us - said Vučić.
Putting aside the context and the year 2004, the president said, the truth is that this was happening to us three or four years after "ostensibly great democratic changes" and the promise that everything would be resolved in a democratic manner.
- What happened next were terrible crimes against our people, and in the middle of the “standards before status” story. And then they set those standards for us, and that's when they came out with a made-up story about three dead Albanian boys who had allegedly been killed by Serbian persecutors, which later proved to be a monstrous lie. But those in power in Priština keep on repeating this story even today, and those who supported them then and who support them now are keeping quiet about it - said the President of Serbia.
He also remembered 2008, when more than 80 countries recognized the so-called independent Kosovo.
  - Everything that happened on March 17, 2004 had only one goal. It was an organized, prepared action. It was not an outburst of anger or rage on the part of the wonderful people who saw the injustice done to the boys at Zubin Potok. It was all well prepared, well organized and well-coordinated, and soon after that, the Ahtisaari Plan, the Vienna Negotiations and the full independence of "Kosovo" ensued. All this time, Serbs have been talking about terrible things that happened to our people, but in a political sense we have never been able to analyse the full scope of what they did to us. We lost a lot in 2008 - said President Vučić.

According to President Vučić, negotiations in Brussels have not been easy. It has not been easy to work to preserve peace and ensure life for our people in Kosovo and Metohija, to ensure the development of the whole of Serbia and preserve the future for our people and to never recognize “Kosovo’s” independence.

- We have seen that the Albanians have fulfilled none of their obligations under the Brussels Agreement. We have seen that they do not even care about them. It will soon be 12 years since the Brussels Agreement, the first, basic agreement. No one mentions it, because if they do, the Albanians will take offence. We have fulfilled some of our obligations under the Ohrid Agreement, but they have fulfilled none and they don’t intend to. They will not even discuss the Community of Serb Municipalities. But our western partners will never say a word of reproach to them nor will they take any action against them - said the President of Serbia, emphasizing that Serbia will stand by its people in these difficult times.
  According to him, Serbia will always find a way to help the Serbian people to stay in Kosovo and Metohija. This is our obligation and our debt to our people living in Kosovo and Metohija, he said.
As long as he is the president of Serbia, and even after that, President Vučić said, we will never accept the consequences of the March Pogrom, nor anyone else's decisions about the independence of Kosovo. For us, it will always be a part of sovereign and independent Serbia, he said.

- There are people who think about the future, about the future judgment. You cannot break such people with threats, you cannot defeat them with threats. Therefore I say, don't forget that Serbia is an independent, sovereign and free country. We love freedom more than anything. We love Kosovo and Metohija more than anything and we will never let you take away our freedom – said the president.

According to the president, the Serbian people are learned, smart and brave enough, and after everything they have been through over the past 25 years they are experienced enough to be able to wait for the best possible moment and fight for their opportunity. The Serbian people do not have to hide this from anyone, he said, they will always be open to partnerships, talks and dialogue.
Serbia is small, but firm and strong enough to never give in to the "big ones", to never bring disgrace upon itself, to never tarnish its reputation, and to know that freedom is more important than anything else, President Vučić said.
  - It is the highest value that we must cherish and protect. We do not consider ourselves better. We want to grow, progress, build, exceed, learn and do more. We have dreams that rest upon peace, forgiveness, and understanding. We want the "Open Balkan" so that the Balkans would become a world. And we've been saying this long enough that I think it's about time someone heard us without twisting our words. By speaking the truth we protect our freedom and save from oblivion everything we have experienced and survived - said the president. The truth is all we can give to those who have been denied it for a long time and the most important bequest to our children, he added.
President Vučić is firmly convinced that the moment people and not weapons start talking again, the truth will become understandable and acceptable to most of the world, and that there is no shred of evil in that truth, that it will never be a threat, and that our freedom, memories and future are in it.
- All this time, while they were trying to scare and intimidate me, while they were trying to blackmail me using tricks, trying to explain to me that I will be in trouble if I don't listen and serve the most powerful ones, I have wanted to say this - do your job and I will do mine, and my job is to say that I have done my best to fight for our people in Kosovo and Metohija together with many honourable and wonderful people. Both in the Government and in all other places. That we have always acted in good faith for our people. Have we always been successful? Well, we haven’t. It is impossible when you are so lonely, almost alone. You have friends who cannot help you a lot in this situation. So we have managed to preserve the light of freedom and identity of our people in Kosovo and Metohija on our own - said the President of Serbia, adding that we will be successful in the future as well.
  At the conclusion of his speech, President Vučić said that the coming months would be crucial for the Serbian people.

- Not only in Serbia, but in the entire region. The coming months will be excellent in the economic sense and will bring many benefits to our people. In the political sense, they will probably be the most difficult months in the last 20 years. Tonight, in front of all of you, I want to bow to our fallen heroes who died protecting their hearths and homes in Kosovo and Metohija and tell them that they did not fall in vain, that we will cherish everything they did for their homeland and that we will never allow a Serbian name and surname to be trampled on. Long live Serbia! Long live Kosovo and Metohija and our people in Kosovo and Metohija - said President Vučić.
The ceremony, organized by the Serbian Government’s Committee for Nurturing the Traditions of the Liberation Wars of Serbia, was attended by His Holiness Porfirije, Serbian Patriarch, representatives of the National Assembly, members of the Serbian Government, members of boards of the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the General Staff, representatives of religious communities, the diplomatic corps, the victims’ families and others.
mp4 (530,74 MB)
President Vucic's address - part 1
mp4 (519,37 MB)
President Vucic's address - part 2
mp4 (563,34 MB)
President Vucic's address - part 3
mp4 (128,81 MB)
The ceremony commemorating the March Pogrom