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The Graduation ceremony for cadets of the 131st and 132nd of the Military Academy class was held today in front of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, when 127 cadets were promoted into the first officer rank, including a member of the Army of Montenegro.

What distinguishes today's ceremony from previous years is that for the first time in history 19 young women were promoted into officer ranks.

The promotion ceremony of lieutenants was attended by Serbian President Boris Tadic, Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac, Serbian Chief of General Staff General Miloje Miletic, state and military top officials, as well as numerous guests from home and abroad, including vice president of the Central Military Commission People's Republic of China Su Tzaihou as well as the Ohio National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst.

President of the Republic of Serbia presented sabers, a symbol of an officer’s honor, to the top three cadets: Predrag Andric, a graduate in mechanical engineering, GPA 9.40, Vladimir Petrovic, also, a mechanical engineer, with a 9.27 GPA, and Nenad Kanjevac, a graduatein engineering management, with an average grade of 9.21. Furthermore, the President presented a military flag to the cadet brigade, another novelty in today’s ceremony.

Minister of Defense Dragan Sutanovac presented honorary pistols with special inscriptions to top land forces cadet Rajko Gujanicic (9.12) and the graduate in Air Force department Bogdan Kovacevic (8.90), as well as the best female cadet Vanja Mrdja (9.14).

Congratulating the cadets on their promotion into the first officer ranks, that of youngest lieutenants, President Tadic expressed his satisfaction at being for the sixth time in a position to address who chose to dedicate their life to the military profession and defense of their country.

- The path to the one star officer rank has lasted for four years during which you had to endure and overcome various difficulties. Your teachers and elders say they have studied hard and that you have rightfully earned your place in this glorious parade and alignment, as the Serbian President Boris Tadic said, adding that he wanted especially to congratulate the female cadets on their successful graduation from the Military Academy.

- After four years spent as cadets in the academy, you were finally promoted into ranks, and this is a historic moment for Serbia as for the first time in its history it has seen its girls become officers. Any day now, women officers will be in command of the units of the Army of Serbia and it is an important reform our armed forces have undergone. They will lead the units where there are women already, who in recent years have become professional soldiers - said the President of the Republic.

He said that the presence of women has brought a new dimension to the organization, while the army has become more stable because it finally started filling its ranks without discrimination.

- In my first presidential speech, I advocated principles of gender equality in our Serbia and the rights of women, which, as we see today, has been partly realized. For all these reasons, I am pleased to say that the Military Academy has for years now been creating professional staff capable of responding to security challenges of modern community, successfully defending national and state interests of top priority – as President Tadic remarked.

Speaking of the currently top-priority interest, the President stressed, that while working on preserving the legitimate rights of our people in Kosovo, Serbia was also striving to obtain membership in the European Union.

- Those who think that these two interests are conflicting mutually exclusive are misguided and have reached a wrong conclusion. Only a stable and strong Serbia, progressing towards the European Union has a chance to defend its legitimate interests in Kosovo and Metohija. Only a prosperous Serbia, with friends and allies, can provide promising future to all its citizens - the President said, adding that Serbia needs friends both in the world and in the region.

Serbian must leave the past behind, he said, and it wishes to forever put an end to conflicts which end with people bearing the consequences.

- This is the cornerstone of our policy and Serbian democracy. That is why we want to solve the historical conflicts between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija with a desire to find a model to suit the needs of both nations, only respect of other peoples' identity, dignity and interests can provide peace and life without fear for their children - said President.

According to him, that conflict must be addressed carefully, consistently, gradually, through dialogue, because only a compromise and sustainable solutions will ensure lasting peace in our region, and entering a dialogue is not always easy.

- This dialogue must be approached with calm and patience, requires to be addressed seriously, but requires that everyone, regardless of their political and ideological differences refrain from themselves from any false and sensational interpretation of the solutions reached, given that these false allegations made by those persons who advocate these interests in public actually undermine the state, as President Tadic explained..

He stressed that all the regional issues in Southeast Europe can be resolved only through policy of peace and reconciliation, this being the only way that can lead our country and the region itself union of equal peoples of Europe.

- There is room for everyone in the Western Balkans, and in our Kosovo, there is still room for everyone. Serbia does not want conflicts and war, so I take this opportunity to warn our European partners of the dangers that could stem from any unilateral action in northern Kosovo made by Pristina, any action that would aim to change the existing situation on the site. This sequence of events would render the dialogue we approached honestly and in good faith completely void of sense, and responsibility for all consequences would lie on those who think that violence is the way to solve the problem, and who encouraged those sides who would took up arms. Such ideas are wrong, dangerous and must be thwarted at the time - said Tadic.

According to President Tadic, Serbia is now a peaceful and democratic country that offers a hand of friendship and cooperation, with an army as the key factor of regional stability. Army of Serbia shall cooperate and be a partner with the armies of major powers and countries in the world today, and the program "Partnership for Peace" has its peacekeeping role in the world. The fact that there are Army of Serbia members participating in EU missions proves Serbia’s commitment to European integrations.

- Judging by the activities carried out by the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Armed Forces we have on several occasions received the confirmation that Serbia has proven to be a highly respected international partner, and a reliable one in building international security. This provides us with enough maneuvering space to start negotiations on the resolution of security issues as an additional element of cooperation with those countries we have cooperated with for years now - said the president of Serbia.

Recalling the 10th anniversary of9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Tadic said that Serbia, while honoring the victims, reminded of the threat of global terrorism, once again confirms the commitment of its Army and the citizens to international fight against evil.

- Ladies and gentlemen officers, the Army of Serbia has received another generation of officers continuing in the footsteps of Stepa Stepanovic, Radomir Putnik, Petar Bojovic, Zivojin Misic, Pavle Jurisic Sturm. You have started on the path of honor today, the path by the said giants of the Serbian history. AS commanders as well as officers of our army, every day you will have to make important decisions, always ready to test your ability to successfully adapt to different situations and obligations. You have to always perform your duties with honesty, fairness and responsibility. Take responsibility for your acts before your superiors and to your subordinates. Act with responsibility to yourself and your family. In this way you will be responsible for their country, according to his homeland of Serbia. I congratulate youyour ranks. Long Live Serbia! - Said President Tadic once again congratulate the Serbian Army's youngest officers on their newly acquired rank.

Welcoming the crowd, the Head of the Military Academy, Brigadier General Mladen Vuruna said that integration is the key word, which has marked the education not only of this generation, but of the Serbian military education in general.

- - In the past four years we have done much to harmonize the training and studies at the Military Academy with the reforms in the Defense Ministry and the Serbian Army - General Vuruna said, adding that four years ago the Military Academy was an institution with a large number of study programs, most of which did not offer employment opportunities outside the Army, because the study programs offered at the academy were not in harmony with career development we see today, and the Military Academy at that time was a complex organization with a smaller range of careers it could offer.

- Today, the Military Academy is a unique educational center, with facilities that can meet the needs of the region, an institution in which officers are trained, and where as of civilians, and senior civil servants can enter study programs too. It is an institution with a high degree of international cooperation, integrated in the scientific and educational community of the Republic of Serbia, with academy’s educational process and training organization fully integrate all three Serbian Armed Forces branches - General Vuruna said, explaining that the program comprises Military High School , 13 academic study tracks at all three levels, offering five joint study programs with Belgrade and Kragujevac Universities, four career development programs and more than 60 different courses.

- The Military Academy has more than 300 students at the undergraduate level, where we educate about 800 male and female cadets, and in the past year alone we had 150 officers graduate from the School of National Defense Serbia along with nine officers from other countries. The various courses enable 500 individuals to obtain joint degrees with 88 students getting their education at the moment. The following month we will receive civilian freshmen students.

According to him, in that environment and on the road for this development were also present revelers, cadets 131st and 132 class, including the first generation of girls, 107 lieutenants and 19 lieutenants of the Army of Serbia.

- Their schooling was marked by about forty exam, many months the field, professional practice and internships. Marked by more than 50 medals from the many sporting events, and visit military academies in the world, and participation in research and student conferences at home and abroad - said the general Vuruna, adding that four years ago, select the institution to honor property , a school where they learn when and how to fight, and how and when to build peace, and today they chose to serve honorably Serbia.

Such a choice worthy of profound respect for them and I congratulate in this election - said the head of the Military Academy.

On behalf of all students of that generation, the best among them, Predrag Andric said that studranje at the Military Academy, an institution with a tradition that began over 160 years, which has spawned many academics, a Ph.D. student and outstanding military leaders, for all cadets honor.

- After four or five years of hard work and many sacrifices, we bring our studies to a close. We have acquired many useful skills that will be applied in the preservation of peace and freedom of the Republic of Serbia. This year, the youngest lieutenant in the machine Army of Serbia is the first generation of girls who studied at the Academy. They have shown that they are able to cope with all challenges encountered during the study - said Andric, joining the congratulations which, he said, deserved his colleagues and wished them luck in the further career officers.

- I promise that we will perform our duties honestly, fairly and responsibly, will be ready to face all the challenges that our future holds, but at the same time we will never forget the glorious tradition of our army and the state. And would like to thank our teachers and elders, parents and friends who cheered us during training and believed in us and our success - as Andric said.

With a parade, the ceremony was made even more glorious with the performance of airplanes and helicopters, Air Force Army of Serbia, which flew over Belgrade and Pancevo, and citizens had the opportunity to watch the Guaard exercir and enjoy the music program of the Art Ensemble of the Ministry of Defense “Stanislav Binicki’’ as well as he Guard Representative Guard.

- Serve your nation with honor and be proud of your motherland! Long Live Serbia! - Said Major Aleksandar Piposki, deputy commander of 101st fighter -aviation squadron, addressing eh cadets from one of the planes that flew over the capital to honor new officers. It was a cue upon which the graduate lieutenants’ caps flew into the air.
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Military Academy
Generala Pavla Jurišića Šturma 33, 11040 Belgrade, Serbia
Tel: +381(0)11/3603-065; Fax: +381(0)11/3005-190
E-mail: kancelarija@va.mod.gov.rs
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