National Day Message by H. E. Mr. Željko Jović, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Serbia to the Republic of Bulgaria

Dear friends of Serbia in Bulgaria,

The Statehood Day of the Republic of Serbia is celebrated on the 15th of February and has been established as a memorial to the day when the First Serbian Uprising broke out, at a public gathering in the village of Orašac, in 1804. This uprising - as a reaction to the plight of the Serbs under the Turkish rule and as an embodiment of their desire for complete liberation - marked the beginning of the Serbian revolution, which as many Serbian and prominent world historians claim, included the Second Serbian Uprising (1815) and continued until the end of the First World War.

This day in its essence is the birth of the modern Serbian state in the 19th century, because the key goals of the uprising, apart from the liberation from the Turks, were: building new state institutions, abolishing feudalism and general cultural revival. In this regard, the day itself is celebrated as the Day of the Constitution of Serbia, in memory of the day when in Kragujevac, in 1835, the first Constitution of the Principality of Serbia, the so-called Sreten Constitution, was issued and confirmed and which, during this period, was one of the most modern, democratic and liberal constitutions of its time; with it de facto and de jure the feudalism in Serbia was abolished and the doors opened to human rights and freedoms.

Statehood Day was celebrated until the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1918-1929), after which it was abolished. It has started being celebrated again in Serbia since 2002.

Today, the Republic of Serbia is a modern state whose foreign policy is focused on good relations with the neighbours, regional co-operation and stability, as well as ongoing economic progress. In 2020, the year of the pandemic, the country was the first in Europe in terms of economic growth, and it marked a great success even in relation to the Eurozone. This result was achieved due to the rapid and efficient opening of the country after the first wave of coronavirus, but above all thanks to the extensive reforms that have been undertaken since 2014. Even in such a difficult situation for us, we managed with dedicated work and well-thought-out activities to keep the level of public debt below 59% of GDP, to attract foreign direct investment of 2.9 billion euros, and our average wages to be the highest in the region. We still expect further investments in the Serbian economy, including those from the US Development Finance Corporation, as well as further accelerated economic growth. Investments and work for the development of road and energy infrastructure have never been better in our modern history. At the end of this year, when our Bulgarian friends complete all work on the highway "Europe" people will travel without any traffic lights, safely and quickly from Belgrade via Sofia to Istanbul. Our energy ties have already been strengthened with the Balkan Stream, and a separate Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnector is on its final phase. This will enable Serbia, Bulgaria and the entire Western Balkans region for additional energy diversification and, above all, lower gas prices for our citizens and households.

The Serbian state has also shown maturity and skill in the health sector. We ended the year of the pandemic with one of the lowest mortality rates in the region and in Europe, with two newly built Covid hospitals with modern equipment (one with 930, the second with 500 beds) and with a continuous increase in the salaries of the health care sector. Today, in an attempt to help our citizens, to save every life and to rebuild our economy, we have gathered large quantities of vaccines from three manufacturers - the American Pfizer, the Chinese Sinopharm and the Russian Sputnik 5. Through a fully digitalized system of monitoring and application, citizens have the opportunity to determine not only the type of vaccine, but also when and where they will be vaccinated. The results are visible: over 500,000 vaccinated people; start of the revaccination; new orders for vaccines; and further vaccines expected from two more manufacturers; ongoing negotiations on the possibility for Serbia to produce one of the mentioned vaccines itself.

The path of my country and of my people was thorny before 15th of February 1804, and continuously thereafter, with many sacrifices and sufferings, even in modern history, not so long ago. But mainly because of this and because of the awareness of what war and destruction are, we are moving so resolutely forward, with a clear desire and a clear vision to be in a region of stability, peace and prosperity, for the happiness and joy not only of Serbia but of all people living in our beautiful Balkans.


Prof. Dr. Željko Jović