Address by the President of the Republic of Srpska, Željka Cvijanović, at the Official Academy “Praise to the Serb People – the Day the Salonika front was Broken Through”
Distinguished officials of the Republic of Srpska and Serbia,
Dear citizens of the Republic of Srpska and Serbia,
Your Eminence Bishop,
I am proud that tonight, together with Serbia, we are celebrating for the first time an important national holiday that should become a symbol of our unity, of freedom-loving tradition and assembly.
The very name by which we celebrate freedom, unity and identity speaks of the significance of this common holiday. It is our intention and our wish that this day, from today on and in future, be honoured and celebrated as an important national holiday, not only in the Republic of Srpska and Serbia, but also by our diaspora and in all parts where our people live.
This date, 15 September was not chosen randomly.
On this exact day 102 years ago, the Serbian army, together with the allied forces, set out on a decisive breakthrough at the Thessaloniki Front.
This was no ordinary battle. The breakthrough of the Thessaloniki Front, as well as the First World War as a whole, were a terrible agony for the Serbian people, but at the same time, a magnificent victory, as well as an act of heroism whose scale exceeds the limits of what is possible or imaginable.
This is evidenced by the words of the French general and honorary Serbian Duke Franchet d’Espèrey, who testified during the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front, almost in disbelief, that the French cavalry could barely catch up with the Serbian infantry, which was unstoppably rushing forward, toward the final liberation of their homeland.
The heroism and superhuman endeavour of the Serbian army are also evident in the fact that, in its victorious campaign, under full equipment of war and strong combat actions, it covered more than six hundred kilometres to Belgrade and other parts of the occupied country in just 45 days.
Numerous volunteers from Krajina, Lika, Herzegovina, Podrinje and other parts west of the Drina River, who joined the Serbian army at the beginning of the war and fought in its ranks until the very end, side by side with compatriots from Šumadija, Mačva, Pomoravlje, Raška, Kosovo, Metohija, as well as all other parts of Serbia, testify that we were united even in those, most difficult of times,.
Throughout history, the struggle for our freedom always meant great sacrifice and great suffering, no one ever gave it to us, nor did we ever beg for it. Therefore, no one can deprive us of the right to celebrate our unity, our tricolor flag, as well as our rich libertarian traditions, together, in fraternal harmony, with flags flying high.
Remembering the glorious past and marking important dates in our history, we understand very well that the most important fronts of today are not in the military or war, but in a completely different field, and that today, when we have peace, we must be as successful as we were at the Thessaloniki Front more than a century ago.
This is why it is important to preserve peace and function as a stable environment in which, while preserving the national interest, development, economy, co-operation, adoption of new knowledge and technologies are in the first place, and not quarrels and conflicts.
For the Republic of Srpska, Serbia certainly remains a strategic partner and her strongest support, so we are proud that the institutional, political, economic, cultural and any other co-operation between Serbia and Srpska is more dynamic and intensive than ever before.
We are always pleased to point out that in the Republic of Srpska today there is almost no local community in which Serbia is not present by building a bridge, a hospital, a school, kindergarten, road, cultural centre or some other important facility.
We are grateful to the leadership of Serbia for that, and our intention is, in accordance with the Agreement on Special and Parallel Relations, to develop our fraternal relations also in the coming period, and to work every day on the strongest possible integration of Serbia and Srpska –
And that, not to anyone’s detriment, but to the pride, satisfaction of our people and all our citizens.
The holiday that we are celebrating tonight should contribute to this objective. It is also proof that we have a common past, present, but also future.
From this place we are sending a clear message that we want peace and co-operation with everyone. We want prosperity of both Serbia and Srpska, but also the development of all who want to be engaged. By remembering important dates and events from the past we must not lose sight of the challenges that are ahead of us in future. Freedom is too important to be viewed selectively. We want our future generations to grow in the spirit of freedom and to be able to develop in peace.
I wish the Republic of Srpska and Serbia stable development, and may this holiday, which we are celebrating for the first time today, be a reminder in the years to come of the great sacrifices made in the past, but also an incentive to attain the great objectives that we must achieve in future.
Long live the Republic of Srpska!
Long live Serbia!