Saturday, February 04, 2012

‘Medvedev failed to keep promises after Smolensk disaster’. Tupolev 154M, accident occurred April 10, 2010. Smolensk Air Base (Russia)

Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski has said President Medvedev has damaged his image in Poland by failing to fulfill promises over the 2010 Smolensk aircraft disaster.

Minister Sikorski tells this week’s edition of the Catholic weekly Gośś Niedzielny that President Medvedev has failed to fulfill his promise that the wreckage of the plane, which crashed near Smolensk in April 2010 killing all 96 on board, would be returned to Poland.

“This is harmful to his image in Poland,” Sikorski said, in what are some of his strongest statements against the Russian president since the disaster.

“I can no longer understand why things like this take place. In my view, Russia could have claimed partial responsibility [for the tragedy]. This would have enhanced its credibility in the eyes of Poland and the whole world.

Families of those killed in the disaster, which included President Lech Kaczynski, have called for Russia to return the wreckage of the plane to Poland now that the investigations into what caused the plane to crash on a foggy Saturday morning on 10 April, 2010, are over.

“A big country can admit its mistakes. This is why I am surprised that Russia has not taken such course,” Foreign Minister Sikorski told Gośc Niedzielny, Poland’s largest selling weekly current affairs magazine.

Sikorski went on to say that Polish-Russian relations should not be confined to the Smoleńsk air crash.

“We have the largest ever trade exchange with Russia. We have signed an agreement on border-zone travel which has opened a window to Europe for millions of Russians from Kaliningrad, in this way strengthening pro-Western sentiment in that society. […] After the recent talks with [Foreign] Minister Lavrov, I also see a chance for a legal truce with members of the Katyń families [the relatives of Polish officers killed by Stalin’s NKVD in 1940] and for a successive batch of Katyń documents to be handed over to Poland.” 

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