“With a great pleasure, and I sincerely believe that I share this satisfaction with all fellow citizens, I want to proudly emphasize that, in these days when the world is celebrating the end of the First World War, our city, has a special place in history of the 20th century beginning. Certainly, the significant events in Nis between 1914 and 1918, related to the beginning of the Great War, but also its ending, must never be forgotten. First of all, I want to say that less than a month after June 28 and Sarajevo assassination, already on July 25 1914, the state leadership ordered the evacuation of the inhabitants of Belgrade and transferred the government to Nis, which became the war capital of Serbia. And only a few days later, a telegram arrived in Nis by which the Austro-Hungarian declared the war against Serbia. During the first year of the war bur also during 1915, Serbian National Assembly held its sessions in Officers’ Mess Building in Nis where on December 7, 1914, Nis Declaration was adopted, which explained the objectives of the liberation war and announced unification of the South Slavs – Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in one state. Therefore, Niš is also called “the birthplace of Yugoslavia”. By October 1915, in Officers’ Mess Building in Nis, besides the Nis Declaration, many important decisions were made. Here, on May 6, 1915, the Yugoslav Congress was held, during which Nis Declaration was adopted which emphasized the struggle of the Balkan peoples for the liberation and unification, and the position against the London Treaty was proclaimed, which gave a part of the Adriatic coast to Italy. It should also be said that after years of suffering and immediately after the break-up of the Thessaloniki Front, Nis was the first city that the Serbian Army, headed by the Duke Peter Bojovic, liberated exactly one month before the cease of fire and ending of World War I.
I would also like to point out that the symbol marking the Armistice Day is the flower Natalija’s Ramonda and the famous Albanian Retreat medal. Dr. Sava Petrovic, personal doctor of the King Milan Obrenovic, discovered this flower in 1884 near Nis. It is specific because of the fact that when it is completely dried, it can revive after watering. It is on the list of rare, threatened and endemic plants of Europe, and it is strictly protected species in Serbia. The flower was named after the wife of King Milan, Natalija. This “flower phoenix” was chosen in the memory of Serbia which has risen from the ashes of the Great War to continue its path despite the great suffering and catastrophic losses in the Great War. All this is just one part why the Serbian history and the history of Nis are directly connected, and must never be forgotten, and why we can and should always be proud of the people of Nis.”