Polish President’s death has strengthened UK links with Poland: Miliband

Mourners in London watch video feed of Kracow service.

19th April 2010: Just over a week after 97 dignitaries — including Polish president Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria — were killed in a plane crash, foreign secretary David Miliband told London’s Polish community that the president’s death has strengthened UK links with Poland.

At a vigil in Trafalgar Square for the president, his wife and other plane crash victims, Miliband told the grieving Polish community that Poland’s presence in the European family had heightened the sense of grief.

"The immense sadness has brought home the depth of relations between the two countries,” he asserted.

Among the dead was Bronislaw Gostomski, 62, the popular parish priest of St Andrew Bobola Roman Catholic Polish Church in Shepherd’s Bush, west London. He had been a priest at St Andrew Bobola for eight years; and had helped in building links with the residential neighbourhood and raising money for renovation of the building

Miliband could not attend the funeral of President Lech Kaczynski in Poland following the flight ban. Among those unable to attend the funeral were US President Barack Obama, the Prince of Wales, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev defied the air restrictions to fly to Krakow.

Miliband, meanwhile, joined hundreds of mourners in London, as they saw a video feed of the Kracow service.

At the funeral in Poland, Krakow’s Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz said the international feeling following the deaths had shown many layers of good between the people and nations.

The Polish community believes they have lost one of the best politicians the country had since long time and a magnificent priest.

There are an estimated 750,000 people in Britain with a Polish connection.

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