Could air tragedy bring thaw to Russian-Polish relation?

10:09, April 21, 2010      

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When Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew to Poland on Sunday to attend the state funeral of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski, despite the possible impact of the volcanic ash cloud on his plane, people may wonder if the air tragedy that claimed 96 lives could in some ways help bring a favorable turn to the sour Russian-Polish relations.


Western media saw the late Polish president Kaczynski as a lifelong skeptic of Russia, who had preferred to building closer ties with the United States.

However, his death in the catastrophe brought unexpected possibility for improvement of Russian-Polish relations.

On the state funeral of Kaczynski, Medvedev called for the two nations, with tense relations for decades, to unite in sorrow.

He said that rapprochement of Poles and Russians was needed and both countries were making "a step into the future."

"Tragedies may sparkle difficult emotions, but very often they bring people together and I think that this is needed for the people of our country and for Poles," said the Russian president.

It appears that Poland has sensed the warmth from Russian side.

Poland's acting president Bronislaw Komorowski said, after the state funeral, that both Poland and Russia agreed that the Smolensk disaster opened chances of reconcilement over Katyn between Poles and Russians.

Komorowski also announced that he planned to decorate Russians who helped Poland in the days following the Smolensk crash, and he had accepted Medvedev's invitation to attend a May 9 ceremony in Moscow marking the 65th anniversary of Russia's World War II victory.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said that he "hoped the atmosphere of reflection and empathy around the tragedy proved to be a step towards reconcilement."


However, to end the tension between Poland and Russia will not be an easy task, with the Katyn massacre, during which about 22, 000 Polish officers were killed by Soviet security forces in 1940, standing as one of the hardest obstacles.

Analysts said Russia has taken a more open attitude to the event, with Putin inviting Tusk to attend the 70th anniversary of Katyn event in Smolensk on April 7 and Russia providing Poland hundreds of pages of historical files on the massacre.

These steps showed that Russia wanted to pay its respects to Poles and expected to improve relations with Poland, analysts said.

But it seems that Russian effort was far from enough for Poland, as Komorowski on Sunday urged Russia to disclose the full truth over the Katyn massacre.

Besides, Russia and Poland are facing with many other historical entanglements and disputes. For example, Poland advocated for a U.S. missile defense base, which was regarded a security threat by Russia.

Source: Xinhua


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