Battle of Čegar Hill commemorated

PM Mirko Cvetković says that Serbia is dedicated to living in peace, cooperation and friendly relations with neighboring and other nations and states.

Source: Beta
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"Serbia is today, while honoring all the victims of the Battle of Čegar Hill, sending out a message to the world that we advocate peace which is most needed in these regions," he told a crowd gathered for the 200th anniversary of the battle which saw the Serb army take on the Ottoman Turk enemy.

The prime minister added that Serbia's fight for her sovereignty and integrity is being conducted by peaceful, diplomatic and legal means.

"This is the reality and the safest way to preserve all the resources that Serbia has. Instead of heavy words and ill thought-through moves, we have chosen a peaceful path. Instead of risks we have chosen a safe strategy based on respect of international law," he was quoted as saying, in reference to Kosovo.

According to Cvetković, Serbia's authorities have a clear goal – to build a stable country that will be the pillar of peace in the region, arranged according to "European principles of modern civilization".

"We have the strength, there are human and natural resources, a favorable geostrategic position and good economic potential. The government of Serbia's vision is a democratic and prosperous Serbia, integrated into Europe," the PM said, and added that the country's "long-term" strategy is to join the family of "modern European states".

"Ahead of us is a period of accelerated arranging of the country, a time when all things must be put in their place. Improvisations and lack of unity will not be forgiven by our ancestors who built their lives into Serbia's freedom, nor their offspring who rightly expect a peaceful and better life."

As for the battle commemoration, Cvetković said that 200 years on, "Serbia remembers the great sacrifices made for freedom, but also the tragedy that disunity led to".

"The history of the Balkans has for centuries been warning that only when united, we can improve our country and that only with wisdom we can achieve great goals. A modern and prosperous Serbia, such as the one we're building, needs friends in all four corners of the world," concluded the prime minister.

Numerous delegations were today at the Čegar memorial complex near Niš, in southern Serbia, among them a representative of the Turkish embassy in Belgrade.

The battle took place on May 31, 1809, during the First Serb Uprising, when Serb forces clashed with occupying Ottoman Turks.

Historical sources say that one of the commanders of the uprising, Stevan Sinđelić, after realizing that he could no longer defend his position against the Turks who outnumbered the Serbs, advised his men to leave and save themselves if they wished, before firing his gun into a gunpowder storage.

The explosion that was triggered in this way killed all Serb soldiers, some 3,000 of them, and about 6,000 Turks.

After the battle, the Turks' reprisals included erecting of the Ćele Kula (Skull Tower), built out of skulls of 952 Serb soldiers.

Today, the monument holds 58 skulls, and it is believed that Sinđelić's is among them.

In 1979, the structure was declared part of the nation's cultural heritage of exceptional importance.

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