DAll European countries have their troubles, major and minor, but Poland has oftentimes been struck by fate.
A feeling of great compassion and mourning runs through me because of the death of the entire Polish delegation, which crashed in Smolensk. Among them president Lech Kaczyński and many high-ranking Polish dignitaries from the political, military and religious elite.
My support goes especially to the relatives and the members of the Polish delegation in our own political group of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European Parliament. Fortunately, none of our colleagues were on board.
Symbolically it couldn't have been worse, because of the mass-murder in Katyn in 1940 when the Soviet secret police murdered 22.000 Poles, among them many military officers and the intelligence. Stalin wanted to decapitate Poland politically, militarily and intellectually. The Soviet Union has always denied the crime but the Russian Federation could no longer ignore the facts and evidence.
The airplane crashed on the exact day of commemoration, with on board Polish top officials and relatives of the victims of Katyn on board. This is for Poland a traumatic experience.
In 1990 I was myself a correspondent in Poland where I followed the road to democratic statehood. During that period, Lech and Jarosław Kaczyński played a prominent role. Few West European citizens realise the historic dimension of this transformation. For centuries, Poland was a nation without a state. During the last century, it became a nation with a state but not a free state. Only in 1990 did nation, state and freedom merge in one trias politica. The free Polish nation-state is a recent given.
Poland is traumatised by its history. The first words of the national anthem say: 'Poland is not yet lost', as though it balances on the verge of the abyss. Kaczyński bears the historical merit of having escorted Poland to the status of free nation-state.
Despite trauma and misfortune, Poland has been reborn time and again. It will be like this again and I wish Poland and our Polish friends within the political group strength at this time. Europe is also mourning.
For insightful reading on Polish history, I recommend God's Playground by Norman Davies