Minister Selakovic: Without Stefan Nemanja our last names would not have the "ić" suffix
The monument, as well as the renovated Sava Square where it takes the central spot, will be unveiled tonight in the presence of state leadership and represents the only monument to the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja in Serbia.
Selakovic pointed out that it was important for the state to have not only that monument in particular, but also memorial sculptures in general that would cultivate a centuries-old remembrance culture of the Serbian people, which, as he said, was undeservedly, and sometimes on purpose with ulterior motives, pushed aside and deliberately stifled.
"We are one of the few nations in the Balkans that can take pride in its extensive history of statehood and its continuity which was, sadly, interrupted during the Ottoman occupation, and experienced resurrection and renewal in the early 19th century", Selakovic, who was on the Committee in charge of erecting the monument, pointed out in a statement for Tanjug.
He observed that it was unbelievable but true that since 1804, when the renewal of the Serbian state began, until today, a monument to Stefan Nemanja was at no point in time erected in the territory of Serbia.
"The late Patriarch Irinej also spoke about that - if it had not been for Nemanja, we would not be Serbs today, our last names would not have the "ić" suffix. He put it so simply, but so well", Selakovic underlined.
According to the Minister, although there had been attempts before, by the Vojislavljevic, Vukanovic and Vlastimirovic dynasties, Stefan Nemanja was the first in his lineage and no one managed to consolidate and unite the Serbian lands with continuity better than he and the Nemanjic dynasty did.
"To turn a small province sitting on the edge of the Byzantine Empire, into a powerful empire in less than two centuries, a serious and strong state, which had laws, was organized, had an economic, monetary system, diplomacy, which was highly valued and respected, had a significant army. Our forefather Stefan Nemanja achieved all that", Selakovic pointed out.
He noted that Nemanja had strengthened us in terms of Christian Orthodoxy as well - until Nemanja, Serbs were both Orthodox and Roman Catholics, they belonged to various Christian denominations, and since Nemanja, Serbs were an Orthodox people.
He reminded of the words of Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic, who said that Nemanja held a sword in one hand, and he worked, built and created with the other, and when he did not fight and wage wars - he built endowments.
It was precisely from his time until today, that Serbs were blessed with a beautiful endowment-building tradition, Selakovic added.
"If there had not been for the Nemanjic endowments, if there were no characters of the holy Nemanjic dynasty on the frescoes, we would have withered away as a people during the Turkish reign, disappeared and would not exist today. That is why it is important that today we unveil the monument to Stefan Nemanja in Belgrade, and that we, as a state and people, have found the strength to erect this monument in a way that is worthy of Serbia and Belgrade", Selaković said.
He also said that, no matter what those with ill intentions said, the Sava Square and the monument, as well as the Saint Sava's Plateau and the Church of Saint Sava, would become the most visited locations, not only in Belgrade and Serbia, but also in the Balkans.