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November 24, 2009

24. November 2009.

The Serbian President Boris Tadic and Minister of Defense Dragan Sutanovac opened yesterday the „Jug“(South) military base near Bujanovac. They both pointed out that the base would be a key stability factor in that part of Serbia, as well as that it had the development potential, since one thousand professional members of the Army would get employed there.

On the occasion of opening the base, President Tadic said that the existence of a military base in the municipality of Bujanovac was a key guarantee of peace and security and safety in that part of Serbia. “All those who want peace, stability, good interethnic relations and regional stability should today be satisfied with the opening of the “Jug” base, Mr. Tadic said. The Serbian President pointed out that the only persons unsatisfied with the opening of the “Jug” base would be those that aren’t in favor of stability and peace and those who want South Serbia to become a route for trafficking in human beings and for smuggling goods, as well as a territory from where organized crime would rise. The army, according to him, is not only a guarantee of sovereignty and territorial integrity, but it is also one of key elements of the government in the fight against organized crime and terrorism.  „I expect that the “Jug” base would be one of key contributors to preparation of our army for taking part in peace operations, since Serbia’s international responsibility is a precondition for gaining credibility in the world,” Mr. Tadic said. He added that two strategic interests of Serbia remain the EU membership and preservation of its territorial integrity in Kosovo and Metohija. According to his words, the opening of the “Jug” base is also important for economic development of South Serbia, as it will contribute, along with completion of Corridor 10, to the regional development of that part of Serbia.   
President Tadic also stated that there would never be any foreign military bases in the Serbian territory. Mr. Tadic underscored that members of foreign countries’ armies would be trained in the “Jug” military base in order to prepare themselves for taking part in peace operations. However, they would undergo the training along with members of the Serbian Army. He reiterated how important it was for members of the Serbian Army to take part in the UN peace operations, since such operations build up the reputation of a country in the world.
Defense Minister Sutanovac said that the “Jug” base was the most important and the largest infrastructure facility that was constructed by the Ministry of Defense over the past several decades. He also said that over 1 billion and 700 million dinars were invested in it. Mr. Sutanovac announced the possibility of expanding the base to additional 60 acres of land, so that it could become the center for training participants in peace operations.„We would like this base to become a model on which the other bases in Serbia would be constructed,” Mr. Sutanovac said. Underling the importance of the base for civilian – military relations and regional economic development, Mr. Sutanovac explained that, apart from being a military installation that provides employment for the local population, it would also make its medical capacities available to the civilians.

The base complex takes up 35 acres of the land. It includes 66 installations, out of which 44 are high-rise buildings, and the overall area of which is 22,000 m2. The base should provide living conditions for around 1,000 soldiers and police officers, as well as the conditions for keeping special equipment and technical assets, thanks to which the military readiness of the units, which have specific tasks in the Ground Security Zone, will be increased. In addition to the facilities for accommodation of men, the equipment and technical assets, the base also has the capacities for training, logistical support, rest and sporting activities. Members of the 41st. Infantry Battalion, who are part of the 4th. Brigade of the Armed Forces, and who were over the past few years accommodated on the inadequate premises of the closed down factory “Crvena zastava” (Red Flag) in Bujanovac, are currently accommodated there.
Present at the opening ceremony were the Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, Serbia’s highest military officials, representatives of the local self-governments and members of the diplomatic corps.