Civil.Ge — President Saakashvili managed to arrive in Krakow on Sunday to attend state funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife about an hour before their coffins were laid to rest in Wawel Cathedral's crypt.
President Saakashvili flew to Krakow from the United States with stops in Portugal, Italy and Turkey, his administration said in a statement. It said that during each stop, the president's plane had to receive clearance to fly at low altitude considered safe amid the cloud of volcanic ash drifting from Iceland.
Volcanic ash made dozens of foreign delegations, including U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, to cancel plans to attend the funeral.
Shortly after arrival President Saakashvili joined the funeral procession, which was on its way from St. Mary's Basilica, where a solemn mass was held, to Wawel Cathedral where the first couple were buried.
Saakashvili, with his wife Sandra Roelofs, walked to Wawel directly behind the coffins. The Georgian first lady, who made her journey from Brussels by land, arrived in Krakow earlier and attended the mass at St. Mary's Basilica.
Lech Kaczynski has been posthumously granted the Title of the National Hero of Georgia; the Georgian authorities have decided that one of the streets in Tbilisi would be named after Lech Kaczynski.
Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration, said on April 18 that death of Lech Kaczynski was "a great" and "serious loss" not only for Poland, but for Georgia too.
"President Kaczynski, as well as his team, those [other Polish senior officials], who have died in the plane crash, were Georgia's great supporters within EU and NATO. Time will come when we will be able to speak openly about Mr. Kaczynski's role, including during NATO [2008 Bucharest] Summit. Now I can say that it was thanks to him that [Bucharest summit declaration] contains wording that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members," he told the Georgian public broadcaster's weekly program, Accents.