Internal Policies and EU Institutions

Speech by President Jerzy Buzek at special commemorative event in the European Parliament for the victims of the crash of plane of Polish President near Smolensk

Brussels -
Wednesday 14/04/2010

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank you! I would like to thank all of you, thank you colleagues from the European Parliament, thank you colleagues from the European Commission, thank you colleagues from the Council of European Union, thank you colleagues from the Polish Parliament, thank you colleagues from the outside of Europe, thank you for coming here.

We are meeting to pay tribute to the 96 people who died in a tragic air crash in Smolensk in Russia. Among them was the President of Poland, a Member State of the European Union, and 18 national parliamentarians, our colleagues, from the Polish Parliament.

Our thoughts first and foremost are with the families and with the loved ones of the victims.

I have received message of support from so many people: from my colleagues from the European Parliament, from the European Commission, from the European Council, ambassadors, members of staff of the administration of the European institutions, as well as from outside Europe.

Those condolences and signs of support have given me and to my country some strength and comfort in these sad days. I appreciate this.

And I am proud, we are proud, of how my nation has reacted to this unprecedented catastrophe. They perished serving their country on their way to commemorate thousands of Polish officers, held by soviets as Prisoners of War, killed during Second World War in Katyń.

History has dramatically turned a full circle.

We have been touched by the reaction of Russia, full of dignity and understanding. Thank you our Russian friends.

We believe it will help us to re-conciliate our continent in both historical truth and mutual trust and respect.

I know that Europe these days is together with my country, Poland, at this difficult time.

Dear colleagues,

It is our custom in Poland to read aloud the names of those who have passed away. We do so simply to ensure that they remain firmly anchored in our memories.

I should like once again, on behalf of all Poles, to thank all those gathered here. The entire European Union has come together today in this chamber - there are both representatives of the institutions and the Member States, and ambassadors of countries outside the EU.

It is evident that we all need unity, for unity gives us strength. We in the European Union know how strong this makes us, and are deeply committed to it. On days such as these, we are reminded of this fact more than ever.

+Lech Kaczyński+
An activist in the democratic opposition and subsequently in the Solidarność movement, even after it was forced underground.  
After Poland had regained its freedom, he became vice-chairman of the Solidarność trade union and then served as president of the Supreme Chamber of Control.  
He was Minister of Justice in the government which I led. He subsequently became Mayor of Warsaw and, from autumn 2005, President of the Republic of Poland.  

+Maria Kaczyńska+
First Lady of the Republic of Poland.

+Ryszard Kaczorowski+
The last President of Poland in exile in London. In 1991 he formally handed over the presidency to Lech Wałęsa, the newly-elected President.  

+Anna Walentynowicz+
A former crane operator in the Gdańsk shipyards. Her actions following her dismissal provided the impetus for the strikes of August 1980, which in turn led to the formation of Solidarność.

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The names of the remaining victims were then read out by MEPs in an atmosphere of solemn silence and reflection.

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* Remark: Check the text of the speech against delivery *