Victims of NATO's bombing commemorated
Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic on Tuesday paid homage to those members of the Interior Ministry (MUP) killed during the NATO bombing campaign in 1999.Source: Tanjug
Their courage and sacrifice must never be forgotten, he said during a wreath laying ceremony in Belgrade.
“They were a byword for courage, safety and determination. Today we honor all the victims who were MUP members and we especially cherish the memory of the 167 police officers who laid down their lives in March, April, May and June 1999,” Stefanovic said.
The minister added that it was "an obligation for everyone to cherish their memories and recollections of the brave individuals who did not give up or abandon their line of duty, and it is an obligation for the government to provide a strong support for their families."
The central commemorative ceremony marking the anniversary of the beginning of the NATO's 1999 aerial war against Serbia will be held in front of the former General Staff building on Tuesday evening.
The ceremony will begin at 19:58 CET, the hour when NATO launched its first airstrikes 16 years ago.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will take part in the ceremony, the government said in a statement, as will other government officials, envoys of the Serbian president, MPs, the chief of the army general staff and other representatives of the army, members of diplomatic corps and representatives of numerous citizens' associations, and the government's Committee for Preserving the Tradition of Serbian Liberation Wars.
President Tomislav Nikolic will attend commemorations in the town of Aleksinac, southern Serbia, where he will honor NATO's victims.
A memorial service was held early Tuesday in the church of St. Dimitrije in Kosovska Mitrovica, northern Kosovo.
The service was attended by citizens, officials of the Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija, officials of northern Kosovo municipalities and the head of the Kosovska Mitrovica District Vaso Jelic.
After the memorial service, wreaths and flowers were laid at the Truth memorial, situated near the main bridge on the River Ibar in Kosovska Mitrovica.
Sixteen years ago, 19 NATO member countries started a war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that claimed thousands of innocent victims, causing catastrophic destruction in the country, North Mitrovica Mayor Goran Rakic said.
The fact that NATO named its military operation "Merciful Angel" is devastating and disgraceful, as is the fact that it declared all innocent victims to be "collateral damage," Rakic also said.
The anniversary of the start of the NATO bombing of Serbia was commemorated "similarly" in other municipalities of northern Kosovo, Tanjug reported.