National Assembly President Maja Gojkovic led the ceremony at the Church of St. George in historic Oplenac, where she laid a wreath at the tomb of Djordje “Karadjordje” Petrovic, the leader of the First Serbian Uprising.

Labor, Social and Veteran Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin was also in Oplenac today. He was joined by Serb Republic (RS) Labor and Veteran Protection Minister Milenko Savanovic, and delegations of the Serbian Defense Ministry and the Serbian Army.

President Tomislav Nikolic on Tuesday signed decrees awarding state decorations to 84 persons and institutions. Also on Tuesday, Nikolic attended mass served for the state in a Catholic church in Belgrade, which in this way joined Statehood Day celebrations.

On Wednesday, Nikolic placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Mt. Avala, near Belgrade.

“Today is February 15, 2017. Serbia is a peaceful and free country. We are not rich, but we are slowly rising. We are pursuing our own policy independently, we have many friends around the world. We are militarily neutral. Serbia lived after you and will also live after us. Always for new children,” Nikolic wrote in the memorial book.

The president later in the day hosted a reception where this year’s state honors were presented to the recipients.

Statehood day coincides with the Orthodox Christian holiday of Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, or Candlemas (Serbian: Sretenje).

It is marked in honor of the start of the First Serbian Uprising (February 15, 1804), and the adoption, on the same day in 1835, of the Sretenje Constitution of the Principality of Serbia – two pivotal events in the effort to renew the nation’s statehood, lost after the invasion and occupation of the medieval Serbian kingdom by the Ottoman Turks.

Statehood Day is a two-day non working holiday in Serbia.