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Србија, Srbija

Last modified: 2007-08-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: serbia | cross (yellow) | ocila | firesteel | mourning flag | coat of arms: serbia | star (red) | eagle: double-headed (white) | president of the republic | chairman of the parliament | constitution | protocol |
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[Flag of Serbia]         [State flag of Serbia]

Flag of Serbia - Images by Ivan Sarajčić, 17 August 2004
Left, state national flag, used as the main national flag
Right, civil national flag

On this page:

See also:

The end of Serbia and Montenegro

The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by a referendum on Montenegrin Independence on May 21, 2006. 55.54% of voters voted for independence of Montenegro, narrowly passing the 55% threshold needed to validate the referendum under rules set by the European Union, as reported by 99.80% of the 1,100 polling stations. Serbia, the member-states of the European Union, and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have all signalled they will likely recognize Montenegro's independence, removing any obvious obstacles from Montenegro's path towards becoming the world's newest sovereign state. Predrag Popović, a leader of one of the unionist parties demanding a full recount, said the day after the election that his bloc would lodge a complaint with the head of the election commission, Slovak diplomat Frantisek Lipka.
According to the electoral commission, the 55% threshold was passed by only 2,300 votes (55.5% in favour).

On June 3, 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro declared the independence of Montenegro, formally confirming the result of the referendum on independence. On June 5 Serbia was declared the successor of Yugoslavia and the State Union by the National Assembly of Serbia. Montenegro has begun the process of seeking international recognition as well as a seat at international organizations.

Matthew Chew, 7 June 2006

State national flag of Serbia

The "main" flag of Serbia is vertically divided red-blue-white with the national coat of arms shifted to the hoist (state flag). When Montenegro seceded from the federation, someone, somehow decided that the state flag should be hoisted in front of the UN building. Restaurants, gas stations, sport supporters, all automaticaly started to use the flag with the coat of arms.
Civil vessels on rivers Danube and Sava use the state flag, with some minor exceptions using the flag without the coat of arms.

A document available on the website of th Serbian Parliament gives the following prescriptions:
- the ratio of the flag shall be 1.5:1.
- the coat of arms shall be skewed to the left by 1/7 of the flag width from the center. (The text says to the left, which strictly means that two sides are not the same, when the hoist is to the viewers right, but it is not the case in practice, it should be stated "1/7 to the hoist")
- The use of Pantone scale colours is recommended.
Process colours are used in standard four colour offset printing (CMYK).
Colours shown on this page are not completely precise as original, so numeric values are enclosed.

Red: 193c
Blue: 287c
Yellow: 116c

Red: C 0, M 90, Y 70, K 10
Blue: C 100, M 55, Y 0, K 0
Yellow: C 0, M 10, Y 95, K 0
Black: K 100

The civil national flag of Serbia is horizontally divided red-blue-white, in proportion 2:3. The Serbian tricolour dates from 1835, and is based on the Russian colours.

Ivan Sarajčić & Željko Heimer, 23 March 2007

The state flag was raised in a ceremony in front of the National parliament building. With this, Serbia made a symbolic conclusion to the process of taking over its jurisdiction as a sovereign state, based on a Serbian parliament decision dated June 5, 2006.

Milan Jovanović, 27 July 2006

[State flag of Serbia]

State flag of Serbia in proportion 1:2 - Image by Milan Heldrih, 9 January 2005

A state flag in proportion 1:2 is hoisted at least over the presidential residence in Belgrade and also in front of hotel Hajat. In both cases they are hoisted without the national flag of Serbia and Montenegro (as one would have assumed that the ratio might have been made so that the two would be of the same size, but no). Such 1:2 flags are not prescribed by the new Serbian regulations, but the regulation is vague and may be followed more or less strictly.

Željko Heimer, 9 January 2005

[State flag of Serbia]

Vertical state flag of Serbia - Image by Željko Heimer, 31 May 2005

As I was informed by Milan Heldrih from Zemun, Serbia, the new state flag of Serbia is used also in a vertical variant. As far as I am aware, the verical variant is not prescribed anywhere, but apparently it is used nevertheless in somewhat unexpected design.
Namely, the vertical flag is the tricolour red-blue-white from observer's left to right, with the coat of arms set in the canton, so that its vertical axis matches the edge between the red and the blue fields and moved towards the top, approximately to 1/3 of the length.
Milan noticed also several variations, including the ratio variations from the usual 2:3 (matching the horizontal flag), 1:2 (matching the flag of Serbia and Montenegro) and even as long as 1:5 for vertical banner-like hoisting.
The flag seems to be mass produced (and used) in Serbia, and it probably not solely by one manufacturer, as the variants may prove. Milan repoirts that the flag is used amnong other places on the state TV headquarters (1:5 variant), the Customs Office (1:2), buildings of some municipal courts in New Belgrade and some less official places such as the Zepter Bank, Hotel Beograd Interkontinental, a bakery shop in Lazarevac etc. As table flags these are used in the government buildings, as shown in various newspapers on the photos on the working desk of Vojislav Koštunica, the Prime Minister, and Boris Tadić, the President.

Željko Heimer, 31 May 2005

The flag in the Constitution

Coat of arms, flag and national anthem
Article 7.
The Republic of Serbia shall have a coat of arms, a flag and a national anthem.
The coat of arms of the Republic of Serbia shall be used in the form of the greater coat of arms and the lesser coat of arms.
The flag of the Republic of Serbia shall exist and be used as the national flag and the state flag.
The national anthem of the Republic of Serbia shall be the official song Bože pravde.
The design and use of the coat of arms, flag and national anthem shall be regulated by Law.

Milan Jovanović, 8 November 2006

With the adoption of the new Constitution of Serbia on 8 November 2006, the last flag defaced with the Yugoslav red five-pointed star was finally formally retired.
Although the Serbian flag with the red star was in practice revoked from use in 1992, this was, as far as I know, not done through any legislative act. Such situation extended until 17th August 2004 when the government issued a guidelines (and not a law!) regarding the use of the current flag with the coat of arms (plus undefaced flag as the civil flag).
However, the determination in the Constitution of Serbia remained as before prescribing the flag with the red star inspite it had not been used for almost 15 years!
The adoption of the new Constitution therefore corrects this oddity.

Željko Heimer, 8 November 2006

Coat of arms of Serbia

[Coat of arms of Serbia]         [Greater coat of arms of Serbia]

Lesser (left) and greater (right) coats of arms of Serbia - Images by Željko Heimer, 27 August 2004

The lesser coat of arms of Serbia is:
Gules, two fleur-de-lys or below a double-headed eagle argent, beaked, membered and tongued or, bearing an escutcheon: gules, a cross argent between four firesteels or addorsed. Crowned with a royal crown proper.

The greater coat of arms adds the heraldic mantle topped with a crown.


Željko Heimer, 27 August 2004

Origin of the firesteels/4C's charges (ocila)

Očila is the term that describes the four C-shaped elements on the coat of arms. Another word in Serbian for the same thing is ognjila, but I do not think that this is ever used for those elements in this sense.
Ocila is called in English a firesteel, a cup or plate used for holding fire in religious service (or most usually beneath icons), providing the fragrant smoke. Similar device is also known in Western European heraldry, then most usualy with opening above, often with fire bursting from it.

Željko Heimer, 28 September 1998

The meaning and use of this symbol is said to date back to the XIIIth century during the life of St. Sava, a Serbian prince, monk, and a patron of the Serbian Orthodox Church [est. 1219].
During that time of transition in Serbian maedieval history, the state was pressured by the Vatican to convert into Catholicism. Since the state did not have its own independent ecclesiastic establishment, St. Sava called for establishment of Serbian independent Archiepiscopat, and as well called on all Serbs to unite against the pressure from The Vatican.
St. Sava said, 'Only Unity Saves the Serbs', in Serbian, Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava. Every word in that sentence begins with the letter S; in Cyrillic alphabet letter S is С, and there comes the explanation why there are four C's in the Serbian coat of arms. The Serbian coat of arms represents a reminder for a need for Serbian people to unite with the cause to preserve their heritage and nationhood.

David Adizes, 23 November 1999

Before the XIIth century, an almost identical cross with four C- or rather B-shaped firesteels was used by the Byzantine Paleologue Emperors, the letters standing for the Emperor's motto: Βασιλευς Βασιλεων Βασιλευων Βασιλευσιν, that is, "King of Kings, ruling over Kings".

Santiago Dotor, 25 November 1999

In the Orthodox Church, the cross that has been seen by Constantine the Great (270/288-337) is a very important symbol. Before the battle at Saxa Rubra (Milvian Bridge) he is said to have seen in the sky a very bright cross ("bright as many stars"). The message that he's been heard was: In hoc signo vinces. There is a difference between this cross of victory (Constantine won the battle) and the cross of crucifixion. In addition, it is also a representation of the bright cross they believe that will appear in the sky at the end of the World (Matthew 24:30).
There are several different ways to represent brightness of that cross. One of them is with diagonal rays, the second is with the Greek letters IS HS NI KA (Jesus Christ is victor). The third way is with four firesteels. The cross with four firesteels is an old Byzantine/Orthodox symbol and should not be connected to the Paleologues (the last ruling family). It has nothing to do with four Β (Greek or Serbian Cyrillic alphabet).

Zoran Nikolić, 14 July 2004

Standard of the President of the Republic

[Flag of the President]

Standard of the President of Serbia - Image by Željko Heimer, 17 August 2004

The standard of the President of the Republic is an horizontal tricolour flag within a white border with interchanging row of blue and red triangles with their bases inwards and with a red deltoid in each corner, their stripes of the same heights, top to bottom: red, blue and white and over all these stripes the greater coat of arms of the Republic of Serbia.

Željko Heimer, 17 August 2004

Standard of the Chairman of the Parliament

[Flag of the Chairman]

Standard of the Chairman of the Parliament of Serbia - Image by Željko Heimer, 17 August 2004

The standard of the Chairman of the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia is an horizontal tricolour flag with equally sized stripes, top to bottom: red, blue and white, and over all these stripes the greater coat of arms of the Republic of Serbia.

Željko Heimer, 17 August 2004

Flag protocol

State flag
The state flag of Serbia is constantly flown on the entrance of a building of a state organ of Serbia, and displayed in their rooms. The National Assembly is flying it only during a session and during state holidays. Organs of provinces, Vojvodina and (in theory) Kosovo and Metohija, are flying it only on a state holiday.
It can also be flown during celebrations and other solemn manifestations which mark events of importance for Serbia, and on other occasions. During days of mourning, it is flown at half mast but only by provincial and local organs and public services.
The flag also has to be displayed in an election room during an election for state bodies and in the room of civil registry dedicated to marriage (the registrar has to carry a sash with flag colors as well).

People's flag
The people's flag of Serbia is constantly flown on the entrance of the Assembly and organs of provinces and public services. It has to be displayed in an election room during an election for provincial or local organs.
Also, it can be hoisted during celebrations and other cultural or sport manifestations, and on other occasions.

Other flags
The President of Serbia and the President of the National Assembly of Serbia are using their Standards instead of the state flag.

Respect for the flag
Neither the state nor the people's flag can be hoisted so that they touch the ground, nor be used as rests, tablecloths, carpets or curtains, nor to cover vehicles or other objects, nor to attire speaker platforms or tables, except as table flags. They must not be used if damaged or otherwise look unsuitable for use.

Handling of the flag
The flag is not flown in bad weather conditions. Also, it is flown only in daylight, except if lit.
If the flag is flown vertically on a table or otherwise, its top field is on the left side of the viewer. If it is flown vertically across a street or square, its top field should be on the northern side if the street has east-west orientation, and eastern side if it has north-south orientation or on a circular square.

Correct display
The law defines how the flag of Serbia is displayed along with other flags, making no difference between state flags and other kinds of flags.
If the flag is hoisted with another flag, it is always on the viewer's left, except during an official visit of a representative of another country or an international organization, when the flag of the visitor is it is on the viewer's left. If the flag is hoisted with another on crossed staffs, its staff must be the front one.
If the flag of Serbia is hoisted along with two flags, it must be in the middle.
If the flag is flown with multiple flags,
- if the flags are flown in a circle, it must be in the center of the circle, clearly visible;
- if the flags are flown in a semicircle, it must be in its vertex;
- if the flags are flown in a column, it must be in the front of the column;
- if the flags are flown in a row, it must be in the first place, that is, on the viewer's left;
- if the flags are flown in a group, it must be in the front of the group.

After a document available on the website of the Serbian Parliament, translated by Milan Jovanović, 23 May 2007.

Mourning flag

A plain black flag is frequently used as mourning flag in Serbia, especially in Eastern Serbia. It is displayed in front of the house of a deceased person for 40 days after the death.

Ivan Sarajčić, 20 May 2000