Klaus, Havel shocked by Kaczynski tragedy (Roundup)
Apr 10, 2010, 14:36 GMT
Prague - Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Saturday said he was 'shaken, shocked and saddened' by the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, while his predecessor Vaclav Havel suggested that the tragedy would have an impact on Polish history.
'I personally lost a genuine friend ... It is a horrible and immense loss,' Klaus told reporters in remarks televised on the CT24 news channel. Kaczynski was 'an extraordinary president' and 'a unique friend of our country,' he said.
Earlier Saturday, Klaus relayed the news of the tragedy to a packed St Vitus Cathedral in the Czech capital where the new Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka was being inaugurated.
Kaczynski's plane crashed near Smolensk en route to a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet massacre of thousands of Polish officers early in World War II at Katyn. He was killed along with his wife and dozens of others.
Klaus and Kaczynski were close allies in Central Europe. They shared critical views on the functioning of the European Union and met often to discuss EU issues.
Havel meanwhile said Kaczynski's death would have an impact on Polish history. He told CT24 that the tragedy evoked 'the well-known, strange death of General Sikorski' in a plane crash decades earlier.
The death in 1943 of Wladyslaw Sikorski, Polands then premier-in- exile, later helped the Soviet Union to gain control over Poland. The plane crash remains a subject of conspiracy theories.
'It greatly influenced the entire history of Poland,' Havel said. 'And I think that this catastrophe will again influence Polish history.'
The former president said that speculation rather than facts about the cause of the accident would influence developments in Poland.
'Those speculations will influence the elections and the course of events in Poland, those speculations (will have an influence) rather than the real facts,' Havel said.
The scope and historical connotations made the accident 'unbelievable' and 'fateful'. 'It is a tragedy that has no analogy,' he said.
After a mass grave was first discovered in Katyn in 1942, Sikorski demanded an International Red Cross investigation of the massacre, a move that prompted the Soviet Union to cut diplomatic ties with Poland in 1943.