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NEVESINJE, November 8 /SRNA/ - The 1992 and 1994 St Demetrius battles were among the most significant battles of the homeland and liberation war and decisive for the defence of Serb Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, and the sacrifice given obliges the people to build Republika Srpska as a good place to live in, participants of an event marking the day in Nevesinje stated on Thursday.


Minister of Labour and Veterans’ Affairs Milenko Savanovic said the battle of the Herzegovina people had become historical.

"The very same people who followed the ideology of Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic and wanted no Serbs to live west of the Drina River were stopped in the freedom-loving Herzegovina. In 1992 our enemy was ten times stronger but ancestors of brave Herzegovinians defended their homes,” said the minister.

He pointed out that was the reason Nevesinje and the Nevesinje Brigade were declared heroes - Nevesinje was decorated with the Order of the Flag of Republika Srpska, and the brigade the Order of Nemanjic.

Savanovic recalled that 476 veterans of the Nevesinje Brigade had been killed.

"That’s why we must not forget that and we must preserve and strengthen Republika Srpska because that is the only way to survive west of the Drina,” said Savanovic.

Serbian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Branislav Nedimovic said this was an important date for the history of Nevesinje.

"Nevesinje is very important for the Serbian Government. According to the Agreement on Special Relations with Republika Srpska and respecting the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian Government helped several projects including the renovation of the Cultural Centre in Nevesinje," said Nedimovic.

The Srpska presidential envoy Sinisa Karan recalled that nine medals were awarded posthumously on Wednesday and that the president had decorated 1,740 veterans so far.

"The St Demetrius battles speak of the character of the war in a glorious and symbolic fashion. Twenty-three years after the war we can prove to the world that the Serb people waged a defensive, patriotic and liberation battle. A much stronger aggressor had attacked the people here, who were defending their homes,” said Karan.

The victims oblige the people to build Republika Srpska as a good place for life, said Karan.

Leader of the Veterans Association of Republika Srpska /BORS/ Milomir Savcic stated that a few veterans were attending the marking of the St Demetrius battles.

"This is a message to the Veterans Association and authorities that veterans are unhappy and that something must be done to improve their status and efficiency and organisation of BORS,” said Savcic.

He wished a happy patron saint’s day to all members of the Army of Republika Srpska and Ministry of Internal Affairs, wishing them a better status in the future.

Vladimir Mikhalovich of the Russian Strategic Security Support Fund, a sister association to the Nevesinje Veterans Association, conveyed the greetings from the Russian people and President Vladimir Putin.

"The friendship between the Serbs and Russians is hundreds years old. We understand your desire for freedom,” said the Russian representative and recalled that Russian volunteers had helped the Serbs in the 1990s war.

Mayor of Nevesinje Milenko Avdalovic said the St Demetrius Day was inscribed in the memory of all residents of Nevesinje and a synonym of freedom and suffering.

"Freedom cannot be achieved without suffering. Serbs from Herzegovina gave their lives for many rulers, and in the 1990s war they died for their own state and achieved a military victory which resulted in the creation of Republika Srpska," said Avdalovic.

Nevesinje will forever be proud of its fallen veterans, said Avdalovic.

St Demetrius Day is marked in Nevesinje with special respect because Nevesinje and Republika Srpska were defended in the two St Demetrius battles of 1992 and 1994.

Forty-two veterans were killed in the St Demetrius battle in 1992 and 750 were wounded.

Twenty-two veterans were killed in the St Demetrius battle of 1994 alone and 140 were wounded.

The first St Demetrius battle is one of the greatest battles of the homeland and liberation war, because 3,500 members of the Nevesinje Brigade defeated the troops made up of the Croatian Army, Croatian Defence Council and the so-called Army of BiH, which outnumbered the brigade by five times, which charged at Nevesinje with 15,000 soldiers followed by heavy artillery in order to break through to Dubrovnik and get to the Yugoslav border.

A total of 476 veterans of the Nevesinje Brigade made up of soldiers from Nevesinje and the Neretva valley gave their lives for the defence of Republika Srpska.

A two-day event honouring St Demetrius Day is organised by the Srpska Government committee in charge of nurturing the tradition of liberation wars, BORS and Nevesinje municipality. /end/ds