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28. 02. 2012

The Day of the University of Defence in Belgrade, as the youngest institution of the academic community of the Republic of Serbia, was marked by a celebration held on 24th February 2012 in the Old General Staff building in the Grand War Hall.


The celebration was attended by Minister of Defence Dragan Šutanovac, Minister of Education and Science Žarko Obradović, members of the Rector Council of the Conference of the Serbian Universities with Prof Dr Branko Kovacević as its Chair, representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Rector of the University of Defence of the Czech Republic Prof Dr Rudolf Urban with his associates, foreign military attaches accredited to Belgrade, members of Teaching and Scientific Councils of the Military Academy and Military Medical Academy, the members of Cadet Parliament, representatives from the academic community, public and cultural life and many guests.


Speaking about the significance of the first anniversary of the establishment of the University of Defence in Belgrade Rector Lieutenant General Prof Dr Miodrag Jeftić stressed that the establishment of that military institution of higher education had enabled integration of the available resources and harmonization of the education process with the academic community of Serbia. “In that process we have decided to respect history and tradition and values created over the centuries but also to face present challenges steadily and fight for a better future. This important state project has integrated functionally educational and research and scientific potentials of the Military Academy and Military Medical Academy in Belgrade”, General Jeftić stated adding that the goal was to create a recognizable reference of the Ministry of Defence of our country and an institution of strategic importance for the defence system and the state of Serbia, the prerequisites for which were knowledge and education.


That idea, said General Jeftić, was a guiding principle for all those who were involved in the creation of the University of Defence, but also a magnificent challenge of creating profiles of prospective Serbian officers who need to possess a balanced blend of the best tradition of our armed forces and the time we live in. Rector of the University of Defence stressed that “a modern Serbian officer, today and tomorrow, must unite military honour and a creative force that will be the basis for continuous improvement in line with the achievements of the defence science. We want to produce top experts, but also, through academic studies and later professional development, to build creative capacities of gifted and highly motivated people who are the driving force of every progress”, adding that those people are invaluable resource of our armed forces. According to him, great efforts are being made to ensure that our military education can regain its status of a recognizable brand of our Minister of Defence both at home and abroad. He also explained that the confirmation of well-grounded expectations and high potentials came from the Conference of the Serbian Universities (KONUS) that admitted the University of Defence to full membership immediately upon its establishment and that the academic community offered their support in every segment of the constituting process.

During the celebration, based on the decision of the Senate, Rector of the University of Defence Lieutenant General Prof Dr Miodrag Jeftić presented the honorary doctorate to Prof Dr Rudolf Urban, Rector of the University of Defence of the Czech Republic in Brno, making him the first honorary PhD of the University of Defence. Prof Dr Rudolf Urban expressed his pleasure and gratitude for the award granted to him stressing that he saw this gesture as a token of friendship, understanding and cooperation between the two universities.“From the very beginning we had a good cooperation of two equal partners and that is the way our relationships have been developing further on. I was present when the name of your institution of higher education was being discussed and I am proud that you have chosen this name, so that there are two universities of defence in Europe now – University of Defence in Brno and University of Defence in Belgrade,” he said. The Professor thanked to the team of generals and colonels who he had cooperated with and to all his, as he emphasized, Serbian friends.

On behalf of the community of the Serbian universities, consisting of 17 accredited universities and 275000 students, Rector of Belgrade University Prof Dr Branko Kovacević congratulated the University of Defence on the anniversary pointing to an “optical illusion” relating to the first anniversary of military education in Serbia. He noted that military education is as old as higher education in our state and that it was because of the army that the Serbian universities were highly ranked in the world. “What did we do at the end – we did what every reasonable man would do. We have preserved and connected the rich tradition a few countries in Europe can boast, ensured continuity towards requirements of the contemporary time and modern state and included military education in the space of Serbian science and higher education and the European educational space, since the armed forces are the state institution and there is no state without armed forces,” said Professor Kovacević.


He thanked to all those who had helped and had taken part in the development of the University of Defence, especially praising the involvement of Minister Šutanovac. “I wish to express my gratitude to Minister of Defence who has put a lot of effort to resolve difficult tasks of formal, legal or essential nature, and who made a valuable contribution to establishing and developing the University of Defence, and bringing together military and civilian education. For that reason, seventeen rectors have decided to award the KONUS Chart to Minister Šutanovac,” Rector Kovacević said.


Thanking for the award, Minister Šutanovac emphasized the importance of the establishment of this military institution of higher education not only for education of officers but also for the country as a whole. He noted that military education as one of the most important elements of the defence system was reformed within the framework of an overall reform to the defence system. “The desire and need present for decades to establish such a university became reality three years ago when we started implementing this idea,” said Minister adding that there was resistance on the way but  all doubts were removed in 2010 when study programmes for all three levels of academic studies were accredited. According to him, the university framework is placed within a very important segment of officers’ life long education and career development, which starting from this year has another – the fourth level of education, i.e. the Advanced Security and Defence Studies. 


“At the moment, there are 846 cadets, among them 196 girls and 10 civilians, studying at the University of Defence. 265 professors and assistants take care of their education. This year the first generation of doctoral students was enrolled, and there are some foreign citizens,” explained Minister of Defence adding that good study conditions, secured jobs, guided career and recognition of the diplomas and degrees obtained from the military schools have been arousing the interest of young people in our country, the evidence of which is the fact that six to ten candidates apply for one vacancy. “The first and main goal is education of highly professionalized and motivated officers fully able to perform all three missions defined by the Law on armed forces (defence of the country, participation in peace support missions, and assistance in disasters),”  summed Minister Šutanovac. Minister also remarked that the fact that we have cadets and students from several continents is the best indication that we are on the right track, while the results we have achieved so far provide a good basis and impetus for further work.

The celebration ended with a cocktail party, which chamber quarter “Stanislav Binički” enlivened with their music.

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