A Tragic Loss for Poland

In a terrible accident, President Lech Kaczynski of Poland was killed in a plane crash along with his wife, and an extraordinary and distinguished delegation of Polish civilian and military leaders. This morning, President Obama called Prime Minister Tusk of Poland to express his deepest condolences for the tragic loss suffered by the Polish people. President Obama expressed the full and strong support of the American people for our close friend and ally Poland, and he released the following statement.

Today, I called Polish Prime Minister Tusk to express Michelle's and my deepest condolences to the people of Poland on the tragic deaths this morning of President Lech Kaczynski, First Lady Maria Kaczynski, and all who were traveling with them to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kaczynski family, the loved ones of those killed in this tragic plane crash, and the Polish nation.

Today’s loss is devastating to Poland, to the United States, and to the world.  President Kaczynski was a distinguished statesman who played a key role in the Solidarity movement, and he was widely admired in the United States as a leader dedicated to advancing freedom and human dignity.  With him were many of Poland’s most distinguished civilian and military leaders who have helped to shape Poland’s inspiring democratic transformation.  We join all the people of Poland in mourning their passing.

Today, there are heavy hearts across America.  The United States cherishes its deep and abiding bonds with the people of Poland.  Those bonds are represented in the strength of our alliance, the friendships among our people, and the extraordinary contributions of Polish-Americans who have helped to shape our nation.

It is a testament to the strength of the Polish people that those who were lost were travelling to commemorate a devastating massacre of World War II as the leaders of a strong, vibrant, and free Poland.  That strength will ensure that Poland emerges from the depths of this unthinkable tragedy, and that the legacy of the leaders who died today will be a light that continues to guide Poland – and the world – in the direction of human progress.

Ben Rhodes is Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications

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