19. April 2017

"Saber-rattling unnecessary - everyone knows we're prepared"

Serbia does not need to engage in saber-rattling as everyone knows well that we are prepared to defend ourselves, President Tomislav Nikolic said on Wednesday. Nikolic was addressing a reception for the members of the Serbian Army and the Defense Ministry he organized to mark Serbian Army Day. The Serbian Army is facing challenges in the region, and responds to them by being prepared, Nikolic said. "Throughout its history, with the exception of Slivnica, Serbia went to war to defend its territory from others. Therefore, we are today respected by huge countries whose military history is the same, and maybe, those who attack other countries do not respect us - but we do not particularly seek that respect, either," Nikolic said. He said he was confident that better days are ahead of the Serbian Army and that the obvious recovery of Serbia will influence a recovery of military resources and bringing them to their original purpose, i.e., the defense of the country's territory. "With the desire that you have no military challenges, and to be ready for them, I congratulate you on this great day. I was proud to be with you. It will be perhaps the best memory from my presidential mandate," Nikolic told those gathered. He said that he was today "summarizing the mandate that he spent with the army, proud to be their commander-in-chief and a part of an army that knows what kind of burden it is carrying on his back, while fulfilling all obligations imposed by both the glorious history and a desire that Serbian children in the future live in peace, free, without fear." Noting that the army had before it many challenges, Nikolic said that it fulfilled all that was expected of it. He pointed out that the Serbian military holds joint exercises with other armies that are not militarily neutral, "showing how good it is that there is a country in Europe and in the world that has told its army it will be only Serbian and will not receive orders and commands than others, but instead take care of national interests." The military has, Nikolic continued, "stoically withstood economic reforms that affected it as a part of society" at no time jeopardizing the defense capability of the country, for which he expressed his special recognition. The president also said that the army did a lot during natural disasters when it showed how strong and unbreakable the bond between it and the Serbian people is, and noted that soldiers, together with the police, do a very difficult job in the migrant crisis, with no objections regarding their performance. The president said that the Serbian Army is participating in missions that help other nations realize they can live peacefully, receiving top marks from the commands of these missions and international organizations, and added he hopes there will be funds to send more soldiers to such missions. During the ceremony, Defense Minister Zoran Djordjevic presented Nikolic with an officer's saber, while Army Chief of Staff Ljubisa Dikovic gave him a set of monographs about the Serbian Army. "You should have given me the saber at the beginning of my term in office, now it's easy," Nikolic remarked. Army Day is celebrated in Serbia to commemorate the beginning of the Second Serbian Uprising on April 23, 1815. @b92

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