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Georgia mourns Kaczynski’s death

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, April 12
Sunday April 11 was declared a day of mourning in Georgia, following the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, together with senior Polish officials, in a plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, on Saturday. “Georgia has lost its greatest friend in the international community. Poland and Europe have lost a major politician. The Georgian President has lost his personal friend, a person who loved and cared about Georgia,” President Saakashvili’s Press Speaker, Manana Manjgaladze, said on April 10.

Saakashvili had awarded the late Polish President the title of Georgian National Hero. “The Georgian people should never forget Kaczynski, or his personal merit. He always stood with Georgia,” Manjgaladze said, speaking on the behalf of the Georgian President. “His name will live for the exceptional heroism he showed in defending Georgia’s interests not only in Georgia but throughout the world, for the huge historic role he played for us, for his devotion to us during the 2008 war,” the Press Speaker stated.

Speaking on CNN on Saturday Saakashvili said Kaczynski was an “outstanding” figure of Polish and European history and the history of the Caucasus region. The Georgian President hailed the late Polish President for being devoted to his principles in the “pragmatic world”. “When we were being bombed, despite warnings, due to his personal courage he came to Georgia with four other European Presidents and stood with us in our fight for freedom,” Saakashvili told CNN.

Hundreds of Tbilisi residents went to the Polish Embassy on Sunday, leaving flowers and lighting candles at the Embassy building. A group of students from different Georgian universities gathered in front of the Embassy as an expression of compassion for the Polish people. Tbilisi Mayor’s Office representatives planted a tree on Mtatsminda Mount in memory of the Polish President. Tbilisi Vice-Mayor Mamuka Akhvlediani and Environment Minister Goga Khachidze participated in this.

Kaczynski was remembered in the regions as well. About 300 people with candles gathered in the centre of the town of Tkhibuli, in the Imereti region, on Sunday to express their sympathy with the Polish nation. The national anthems of Poland and Georgia were played at the meeting. According to the local authorities the Polish town of Lublin has had friendly relations with Tkhibuli since the Soviet period. Tkhibuli Governor Levan Dokhnadze said condolence letters have been sent to Lublin from Tkhibuli.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia released a special statement on Saturday expressing its “deepest sympathy” to the Polish nation. “Our particular sympathies go to the families of the victims, who lost their loved ones during the plane crash. The Georgian people regard the loss of Mr. Kaczynski as their own tragedy,” the statement reads. “Mr. Kaczynski firmly stood by the values and principles of freedom and democracy throughout his life. He represents the very symbol of freedom and solidarity not only for Georgia and Poland, but also for the whole of Europe. His death represents a great loss for the free nations who share the same values of liberty and democracy,” it continues.

The Georgian President will suspend his US visit for a day to attend Kaczynski’s funeral, his administration has said. The President is attending a Nuclear Security Summit taking place on April 12-13 in Washington.

The Messenger would also like to express its condolences to the Polish people and the families of all those who died in the crash and reiterate that the loss of Mr. Kaczynski, a true and great friend of Georgia, is a loss for the Georgian people and the democratic world as a whole.