Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Miloš Vučević, opened the 11th International Defense Fair “PARTNER 2023” at the Belgrade Fair today, in the presence of the Head of the Army Headquarters of the Serbian Armed Forces, General Milan Mojsilović.

The opening of the fair was attended by representatives of the National Assembly, government ministers, officials from the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Armed Forces, diplomatic and military diplomatic corps, Serbian defense industry companies, business and public figures, as well as numerous foreign delegations.

While addressing the audience, Minister Vučević emphasized that the “PARTNER” fair has been consistently growing, both in terms of the number of exhibitors, presented innovations, and other arms and weapons, and in terms of participation of business partners and total visitors.

“On a regional level, “PARTNER” has earned its status as one of the largest and most significant show, with the aim of becoming even more visible on the global map of such events. This year, the fair presents weapons and military equipment from 154 domestic and foreign exhibitors, with the presence of over 30 high-level foreign delegations and more than 7,000 professional participants and visitors. Discussions with numerous foreign military delegations will focus on further improving military-technical and military-economic cooperation, as well as joint projects for the development and equipping the armed forces. The fair presents representative parts of the production programs of all defense industry factories in Serbia and their partners, and also products from leading European companies from France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Switzerland, Finland, and various technological giants from the People’s Republic of China, as well as other companies from our region and around the world with whom we have had successful cooperation for decades,” said Minister Vučević.

According to his words, the fair has presented over 170 different types of major weapons, including 27 groups of novelties developed by the Military Technical Institute and the state-owned defense industry group.

– In addition, numerous new weapons and components from Serbian private companies are also present at the fair. This fair evidently features more novelties than previous fair editions, confirming the consistent and continuous progress of our defense technologies. New anti-aircraft and anti-drone systems, unmanned ground and aerial platforms, and various types of improved munitions are presented. It will also be the first public presentation of the latest domestic next-generation artillery system “Perun,” which will be a new asset for the Serbian defense industry on the world market. Upgraded series of wheeled armored vehicles, including “Lazar,” “Miloš,” MRAP, and Combat Armored Vehicle (BoV), are also presented, with production in full swing, as well as the modernized BVP M80A B2 and M84 AS2 tanks, with which the Serbian Armed Forces are rapidly being equipped – said Minister Vučević.

The Minister of Defense pointed out that between the two fairs, 70 new weapons have been introduced into service, of which 22 are in serial production.

– Let me pay special attention to the modernized M84 AS2 tank, BVP M80 AB2, ‘Gvozdika,’ KOT, ‘Orao,’ new MRAP combat vehicles, ‘Lazar 3M,’ as well as new modular automatic rifles of 6.5 and 7.62 mm caliber and new sniper rifles. We are eagerly expecting the introduction of 23 more new weapons by the end of the year. As a result of accelerated and successful development of a new generation of weapons, between the two fairs, contracts have been signed with domestic industry for the needs of the Serbian Armed Forces, exceeding the values of contracts signed in the twenty-year period before 2015. In just the past month and a half, the Ministry of Defense has signed contracts with domestic factories for the purchase of weapons worth 6.2 billion dinars, which will be delivered to the Serbian Armed Forces in the coming period. During the fair, signing of new contracts is expected, twice the value of the previously mentioned ones, which is only a part of the intensified process of equipping the Serbian Armed Forces with locally produced weapons,” stated Minister Vučević.

He emphasized that, in addition to the ongoing delivery of domestic complex combat systems, significant quantities of new small weapons, optoelectronic systems, improved artillery ammunition, ballistic protective equipment, uniforms, and other equipment will be delivered to the Serbian Armed Forces by the end of the year.

“In addition to these procurements from the local industry, based on the contracts we have signed and defined between the two fairs, the delivery of major weapon systems from abroad is expected by the end of the year – transport aircraft, one of which is landing in Serbia today, H-145 helicopters produced by Airbus, Thales GM400 long-range radar, as well as several other telecommunication, optoelectronic, and electronic devices, which will further enhance the capabilities of the Serbian Armed Forces. Significant investments in our defense industry have modernized production capacities and created conditions for faster development of new products. New investments secured this year have initiated a new phase of advanced technological renewal based on the concept of Industry 4.0 with an emphasis on automation, digitization, robotization, and key production processes. The realization of these investments and further modernization of production capacities will enable much faster production of this weaponry,” Minister Vučević assessed.

He also highlighted the importance of the arrival of foreign delegations that traditionally visit the “PARTNER” fair.

“Today, we are here together with our friends and partners from abroad. Some of them are users of our products, others are representatives of countries from which Serbia procures specific systems and components not produced in our country. With others, we have joint development projects that will create new combat systems for the Serbian Armed Forces and third markets. Dear guests, I am sure that during your stay in Serbia, you will enjoy traditional Serbian hospitality, have the opportunity to establish new business relationships and partnerships, exchange experiences, and continue to direct and develop the production capacities of the defense industry to respond effectively to contemporary and, I’d say everyday as well, security challenges, the protection of the national sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia, our national interests, and the needs of the 21st-century market,” Minister Vučević concluded, officially opening this year’s “PARTNER” fair.

As part of the grand opening, the guests were shown a film about the achievements of the Defense Industry of the Republic of Serbia. After the opening ceremony, Minister Vučević and General Mojsilović toured the exhibition around the halls of the Belgrade Fair. On this occasion, they visited stands of both domestic and foreign companies in the presence of Minister of Defense Assistant for Material Resources, Dr. Nenad Miloradović.

While addressing journalists after the tour, Minister Vučević expressed his pride in all the people, organizations, institutions, companies, international partners, the Serbian Armed Forces, and the Ministry of Defense that were involved in organizing the “PARTNER 2023” fair.

“This is the best indicator of the progress made in our defense industry within this framework. It reflects the results of advances in our defense industry, overall technology, science, knowledge, skills, the readiness of our military, the state, and also confirms good business and political relations with the countries and companies participating in the fair,” said the Minister of Defense. He emphasized the importance of having a large number of exhibitors from all over the world and particularly highlighted that significant contracts important for the Serbian Armed Forces would be concluded in the coming days.

Reflecting on the events in Kosovo and Metohija, the Minister of Defense stated that it’s not easy to organize all this in the circumstances that surround us.

“Let’s not be naive and pretend that nothing is happening, that everything that happened yesterday, and what’s been happening for days, weeks, and months in Kosovo and Metohija hasn’t occurred. These are serious and major challenges for our country, an almost impossible situation for the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija. I will briefly summarize the official position of the Republic of Serbia – that Albin Kurti’s politics, and he personally, are the sole culprits for everything happening in Kosovo and Metohija. We expect a much more active role from KFOR, and not to allow hunting of Serbs to the point of their extermination,” emphasized Minister Vučević.

The “PARTNER” fair is the largest and most significant fair of weapons and military equipment in the region. It provides an opportunity for numerous domestic and foreign manufacturers to present their products during the four days of the fair. The event is under the auspices of Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Serbia, and co-organizers are “Yugoimport-SDPR” and the Belgrade Fair. In addition to the companies within the Defense Industry of Serbia group, which, along with the public company “Yugoimport-SDPR,” are the core of Serbian potential in the field of weapons and military equipment, “PARTNER” traditionally gathers numerous manufacturers of weapons and military equipment from the Republic of Serbia.

The International Defense Fair “PARTNER 2023” will take place until September 28, 2023, at the Belgrade Fair, in halls 1, 4, and 2A, as well as in the open space of the Belgrade Fair.