Youngest Serbian officers promoted

The President of the Republic and Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces Aleksandar Vučić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Nebojša Stefanović, PhD, and the Chief of the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff, General Milan Mojsilović, attended a ceremony to promote 139 Military Academy and MMA Medical Faculty cadets to their first officer ranks. The ceremony was held today in front of the House of the National Assembly.

This year, 121 cadets of the 141st and 142nd Classes graduated from the Military Academy, including seven cadets from the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The cadets who ranked in the top three are Second Lieutenant Milan Ašćerić, Army branch (GPA 9.50), Second Lieutenant Petar Ilić, Air Force and Air Defence branch (GPA 9.66), and Second Lieutenant Stefan Živković, Serbian Armed Forces services (GPA 9.17). The best among 18 cadets of the 7th Class who graduated from the Military Medical Academy’s Medical Faculty is Second Lieutenant Tijana Stanojković (GPA 9.96).

President Vučić presented the top-ranking second lieutenants with pistols with dedication.

Congratulating the youngest officers in the Serbian Armed Forces on their first ranks, President Vučić said that there is no better event that the President of Serbia and the Supreme Commander can attend.

- Our armed forces are much stronger than they were a few years ago, and a few decades ago. We have much more, and much better quality and more modern arms and equipment, made by workers in our factories, and we are buying new ones more than ever before, not because we want conflicts or wars, but because we do not want them to ever happen. Because we want to deter anyone who even thinks of attacking our country – President Vučić said.

President Vučić points out that, despite the problems the Serbian Armed Forces have been confronted with in recent decades, they are by far the most popular and most beloved institution in the Republic of Serbia.

- We will increase salaries and you will live a little better than your predecessors - says President Vučić.

- Before this ceremony, I enquired about these four, wonderful, young people - Miss Stanojković and Messrs. Živković, Asćerić and Ilić. You will be surprised by what I’ve found out. These people are amazing talents. They say that Petar Ilić, who is still a boy for his parents and us, is an extremely talented pilot like we haven't had in a long time, who can guard our skies in the future. As the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, I am extremely happy that our armed forces get such young people. I believe that in the future, the best and most talented will choose this profession as well. There is nothing more honourable or important than protecting your country, your people, their freedom, and that is the highest and most important value for every nation in the world - the President of Serbia emphasized.

President Vučić says that the armed forces face numerous challenges, but he is certain that we will preserve peace and stability thanks to our armed forces.

- Our strong armed forces are the guarantor of that peace and stability. Without people, without you, dear officers, our armed forces could not exist. Even if we bought all the equipment in the world, you are the ones who make up those armed forces, your strength, your heart, your love for our homeland. That is why I want to thank your parents, members of your families, wives, sisters, brothers, for enduring the difficult moments you went through. And don't be fooled, there will be many more, but I am sure that you will always do your job in the most honourable way, that you will always be at the service of your people and your citizens - President Vučić said.

The President of Serbia told the youngest officers to be diligent, dream big and have ambitious goals.

- We believe in you, because we believe in our future. Thank you very much. Thank you to your families. I wish you a lot of success in your future career. Be diligent and make your families and Serbia proud. Long live the Serbian Armed Forces! Long live Serbia! - said President Vučić.

The Rector of the Defence University, Lieutenant General Goran Radovanović, PhD, also addressed the audience. According to him, today's ceremony is a confirmation of the fact that the joint effort of young people who have chosen the officer’s profession, professional members of the Serbian Armed Forces and the Defence University, with the support of the state and military leadership, yields results we can all be proud of. He told the young second lieutenants to believe in themselves and nurture love for their profession and homeland.

- The only way to successfully perform regular, but also the most difficult tasks in your future careers is to be committed to fulfilling professional obligations, to love what you do and to be ready for self-sacrifice. Success cannot be achieved overnight without patience and hard work. And if you ever stumble on that path, get up when it is the hardest and never give up, just like you did not give up or forget your goal during schooling, which is why we all rejoice in your success. Today, when you are leaving the cadet brigade, you must be aware that new challenges await you in life. Until today, you have been taken care of by others, and by taking on duty in the Serbian Armed Forces units, you are starting to take care of others. If you want to pursue the path of progress, rely on the people you work with, do not lose faith in your superiors and your soldiers - said General Radovanović.

On behalf of the youngest Serbian officers, the top-ranking Military Academy graduate, Lieutenant Petar Ilić, addressed the gathering saying that today his childhood dream has come true.

- As a boy, looking up at the sky and admiring the planes flying, I began to dream of becoming a pilot. There were many obstacles to that dream coming true, there was no guarantee of success, and the goal seemed almost unattainable. However, I decided to give it a try and here I am, standing in front of you, proud of my success and the success of all of us. Therefore, I am telling my younger colleagues, Defence University students, and everyone else who would like to become one: never limit yourself, dream big dreams and bravely walk the path of fulfilling them - said Second Lieutenant Ilić.

Second Lieutenant Ilić thanked the families for their support during the years of schooling, and told his colleagues to be worthy successors to their ancestors and "serve the homeland honourably, act quietly and let deeds speak for them".

The parade of the youngest second lieutenants and Defence University cadets was accompanied by flyovers performed by MiG-29, Orao, Super Galeb G-4 and Lasta aircraft and Mi-35, H-145M and Gamma helicopters, and pilot Major Nebojša Radojković congratulated the youngest colleagues from a MiG-29.

– Congratulations to our youngest colleagues on their first officer ranks! Serve your people honourably and be the pride of your homeland. Long live Serbia! - said Major Radojković.

The next part of the programme included the performances of the MOD’s “Stanislav Binički“ Artistic Ensemble, Representative Guard Orchestra, soloists Mina Gligorić and Milan Obradović, who sang  "Heavenly Regiment" and "This is Serbia", and the actor Nebojša Milovanović, who recited a monologue "On Patriotism" from the "Military Eloquence", a book by General Jovan Dragašević.

The senior state and military leadership, representatives of the diplomatic corps, delegations of the friendly and partner countries’ armed forces and religious communities attended the second lieutenants’ promotion ceremony.

Traditionally, the event has attracted a large number of citizens, and families and friends of the newly promoted lieutenants have come to support them. Among them, in front of the House of the National Assembly, was Dragica Čorbić from Lozna near Ušće, the mother of Second Lieutenant Đorđe Čorbić.

- Today, my son is officially graduating from the Military Academy and becoming a pilot. I have come to support him. Actually, this is my second time here, because my older son also graduated from the Military Academy and works in Batajnica. I want to tell all young people to follow in the footsteps of our sons - said Dragica Čorbić, not hiding her happiness.

Today is a happy day in the family of Mladen Racković from Belgrade, whose three sons, born only five minutes apart, are becoming officers in the Serbian Armed Forces today. The proud father points out that, although his sons have opted for different branches and services at the Military Academy, he doesn’t have a favourite, because the three of them have always been as one.

- It is one thing to watch other children at these promotions, but when it happens to you and your children, the lump in your throat is much bigger, but your pride is also greater. Đorđe, Aleksa and Nikola have been one since the beginning, since the day they were born. We have never had a favourite - says Mladen Racković.

Colonel Hadži Dragan Azarić, Assoc. Prof. from Banja Luka, came to congratulate his second son, who decided to follow in the footsteps of his father and his older brother.

- Today I have become the father of two officers. Stefan was in the 140th Class and works in Sombor, and Nemanja in the 142nd Class. I am proud, because I also graduated from the Military Academy and received my doctorate from the Defence University of the Republic of Serbia - says Hadži Dragan Azarić.