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Selaković and Gouillon presented the "Mother Serbia" award to Đorđe Mihailović

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Nikola Selaković, and the Director of the Directorate for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region, Arnaud Gouillon, presented the "Mother Serbia" recognition to Đorđe Mihailović, the keeper of the Zeitenlik military cemetery, in Thessaloniki today.

At a ceremony at the Serbian Consulate General in Thessaloniki, Selaković said that Đorđe Mihailović, and his father and grandfather, who were also guardians of the Zeitenlik, belonged to a generation that kept the memory, as the holy grail and ray of life.

As he said, the Serbian people bow with awe and gratitude to their fallen heroes from the First World War, because Serbia exists because they existed.

"Today, in this place, we can say that we belong to the best and bravest. That we belong to the honest people and hosts who, above all, loved their homeland and family. A century and something after they fell close to the homeland, we can proudly say: we are yours", Selaković said.

Recalling the laureate's words that Serbia remembers and that there is hope for it because of that, Selaković said that Serbia remembers exactly thanks to people like Đorđe Mihailović, his father and grandfather, because they remembered even when many were happy to forget.

"And not that there is only hope for Serbia, but Serbia will continue to win and will be a source of pride for all our heroes", Selaković said.

"If anyone has ever deserved the "Mother Serbia" recognition, then it is you, dear Đorđe. Eternal glory to you and all our fallen heroes for whom Serbia has forever remained far away", said Selaković.

The director of the Directorate for Diaspora and Serbs in the region, Arnaud Gouillon, said that Serbia was delighted because the award went to the right hands.

"The "Mother Serbia" award goes to where its children are buried, to you. You are the grandfather we all had. I first heard about Serbia from my grandfather, and you are the grandfather of the whole of Serbia and you pass on to the younger generations what you know. You are more than a guardian of the cemetery, you are a guardian of the memory and identity of the Serbian people and you show the price of freedom and that is why we guard it", Gouillon said.

Receiving the recognition, Đorđe Mihailovic pointed out that a large honour was given to him. "I am a poor man from a poor family. I wasn't even a very good student. I only loved history and geography. I have dedicated my whole life to the cemetery", said Mihailović.

The "Mother Serbia" award is given for outstanding contribution, results and merits achieved in the field of relations between the home country and the diaspora, as well as the home country and Serbs in the region in humanitarian activities, developing and strengthening mutual ties, improving economic cooperation and other activities which contribute to the home country, diaspora and Serbs in the region.

The Directorate for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the region has launched an initiative to award prizes to deserving individuals for their contribution to preserving the reputation of Serbia and Serbs in the world, and, at the suggestion of the Consulate General of the Republic of Serbia in Thessaloniki, as the most deserving among the deserving, the most prestigious of all the awards awarded this year went to Đorđe Mihailović.

Since 1961, Đorđe Mihailović has been performing the honorary duty of guarding the Zeitenlik military cemetery, as his father and grandfather did. Even today, at the age of 93, he maintains the graves of Serbian soldiers who fell during the First World War on the Thessaloniki front.

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