Centenary of the Battle of Kumanovo

KUMANOVO – President of the Republic of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic said today that the marking of the Battle of Kumanovo is a message of peace and a recollection of a civilization turning point in the Balkans, Europe and the world.

 "Observance of the centenary of the Battle of Kumanovo is a message of peace, cooperation and understanding that Serbia and Macedonia are sending to the region and the entire world. Zebrnjak is the place that connects us", Nikolic said at the central ceremony marking the centenary of the Battle of Kumanovo on the Zebrnjak hill.


The Serbian President pointed out that, after more than five centuries, this victory had enabled the Serbian army to regain control over Kosovo and Metohija and enter Skopje – the 14th century capital of the Serbian Empire.

"At this site, a century ago, on 23rd and 24th October, where the youth, energy and love rose, we, the descendants of the herald of freedom, are standing here today "full of pride", in the arena of the famous historical battle", Nikolic said, adding that on Zebrnjak, the fate of the Ottoman Empire had been decided a hundred years ago.


"We, the descendants of the herald of freedom, full of pride, are standing on Zebrnjak, the place where the fate of the Ottoman Empire was decided", President Nikolic said.


President Nikolic stated that the significance of the First Balkan War in the national perception is reflected in the fact that more people responded to mobilization than called for, especially from Bosnia, Dalmatia and Vojvodina.


"Out of three million people, 402,000 took up arms", President Nikolic recalled.


He pointed out that Serbia's objective today is to join the EU and that much has been achieved in that respect.


"We will prevail in our fight against crime and corruption and implement to the very end, without compromise, the numerous reforms that are currently underway", stressed President Nikolic and assessed that Serbia has nothing to be ashamed of regarding its past.


The Serbian President also pointed out that one hundred years after its great military victory, Serbia is fighting different battles, but of equal historical importance.


"We are pursuing our path of European integration whilst preserving Serbia's territorial integrity and security for all its citizens. Nowadays, problems are not solved by taking up arms, but by contemplation, will and wisdom. We will resolve the problems because justice and law are on our side and because we neither ask more nor accept less for our children and ourselves than what others are being given", stated President Nikolic.


He pointed out that "for some, Serbia is acceptable only when it suppresses its history and tradition and when it sacrifices itself for allegedly superior political interests referred to as the preservation of Serbia's political stability."


"We do not accept to be treated in such a way. We are bringing back to our people the disputed legacy of our glorious past. We do not offend others, we are only restoring our self-esteem by insisting on the historical facts, defending their authentic idea of liberation," Nikolic said.


He added that, today, Serbia is facing great challenges in its efforts to embrace the depth and significance of the Kosovo pledge", constituting the core of our identity".

"We are aware that future generations will judge our deeds, wishing to understand, in the same way as we are, the reasons of the tragic historical destiny of our people. Serbia is one of the rare countries that can be proud of its history and tradition as those worthy of studying and remembrance", said the Serbian President.


Nikolic recalled that a monument in honor of the Serbian heroes was erected on the Zebrnjak hill, in 1937, according to the design of architect Momir Korunovic. The remains of 723 fallen soldiers have been laid to rest in its crypt.


The ceremony at Zebrnjak hill is attended by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, Minister of Justice Nikola Selakovic, Minister of Culture in the Government of the Republic of Macedonia Elizabeta Kanceska, Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Ljubisa Dikovic, representatives of the Serbian National Assembly Aleksandar Cotric and Milorad Stosic, President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik and President of the New Serb Democracy Party from Montenegro Andrija Mandic.


Wreaths were laid at the monument to the victory of the Serbian Army by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, Chief of General Staff of the SAF Lieutenant General Ljubisa Dikovic and President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik.


Bishop Atanasije of Hvosno held a service in honour of the fallen soldiers.


The national ceremony was organized by the Serbian Government Board for Fostering the Tradition of Serbian Liberation Wars.


The most important battle of the First Balkan War took place in Kumanovo valley on 23 and 24 October 1912, where the Serbian army defeated the then superior forces of the Ottoman Empire, and after more than five centuries brought freedom to the old medieval Serbian territories.