Serbia’s Statehood Day, a two-day non-working holiday, coincides with the Orthodox Christian holiday of Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (Sretenje).
February 15 is marked in honor of the start of the First Serbian Uprising in 1804, and the adoption in 1835 of the Sretenje Constitution of the Principality of Serbia – one of the most democratic and liberal constitutions of its time in Europe.
Statehood Day celebrates these two pivotal events in the effort to restore the nation’s statehood, lost after the Ottoman Turk invasion and occupation of the medieval Serbian kingdom.
On Wednesday evening, President Aleksandar Vucic presented state decorations to deserving public figures and institutions, including several foreign nationals.
In his address, Vucic said that Serbia, by celebrating the recipients, “celebrates itself and its future.”
“Serbia today celebrates its big and important day, Statehood Day, by paying respects to its glorious ancestors, remembering their deeds and showing how worth it is to live and to fight,” he said.
Late on Wednesday, Serbian Army units performed honorary artillery fire to mark the holiday in Belgrade, Nis, and Novi Sad.
The president and the prime minister will attend the central state ceremony on Thursday in historic Orasac, central Serbia – where the decision to start the uprising was made.
President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik has decorated Serbian President Aleksandra Vucic with the Order of Republika Srpska on a necklace.
Vucic received the medal for exceptional merits in building and fostering cooperation and political relations between the Republic of Serbia and Republika Srpska, as well as for immeasurable contribution to the struggle for the physical and spiritual survival, promotion and development of Republika Srpska.
On Thursday Serbia marks its Statehood Day in memory of the Presentation of the Lord in 1804 when the nation started an uprising against the Turks, as well as the same date back in 1835, when the country’s first modern constitution was promulgated.
The main event will take place at Orasac in the presence of the highest officials from Serbia and Srpska.
President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, who decorated Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic with the Order of Republika Srpska on a necklace on Thursday, wished a Happy Statehood Day to the people of Serbia, saying that the Presentation of the Lord as a holiday is reviving in Srpska too.
Dodik pointed out that the decoration of Vucic was a sign of respect for what he had done for Republika Srpska, for understanding the circumstances under which it exists, for his selfless work as prime minister and president of Serbia to improve and resolve many issues faced by common people in many areas, like education, health care, etc.
“Republika Srpska appreciates your contribution to our cooperation which has never been better and is visible in many projects that have been completed, but most importantly, I would like to emphasise how much we appreciate the welcome we feel here and the support to the Dayton Peace Agreement and Serbia’s policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Dodik said conferring the medal to Vucic in Belgrade.
Vucic thanked him, saying that receiving the medal was a great honour as well as an obligation and responsibility. He voiced hope he would justify the magnificent award and that Srpska would never regret giving it to him.
He vowed to do all he could to help Republika Srpska in every way personally too, in accordance with the Dayton Peace Agreement.
“I have accepted the medal because I know we must do a lot more for our people in Republika Srpska,” said Vucic.
He recalled that the relations between Srpska and Serbia were excellent, pointing out that much more could still be done in all walks of life – in economy, education, health care, etc.
“I am proud of our relationship which does not put BiH or anyone else in the region at risk in any way. I am proud of our people’s relationship. It’s a relationship between Srpska and Serbia which is free of any disagreements, or jealousy, conflicts or arguments, like it has always been among Serbs,” said Vucic.
After the medal awarding ceremony, the two presidents are scheduled to have a meeting. They will be joined by head of the Serbian National Council from Zagreb Milorad Pupovac at Andricev Venac, the seat of the Serbian president.
A press release will be issued after the meeting.