NATO honours Polish general who died in April plane crash
NATO defence ministers and top commanders on Thursday paid their last respects to Poland's late chief of the general staff, General Franciszek Gagor, who died alongside his president in a plane crash in Russia on April 10, DPA reported.
The crash devastated Poland's elite, with top politicians and almost all its highest military commanders dying in the disaster. Gagor had regularly represented his country at NATO meetings and was a popular figure in the alliance.
"They say that there are no people who cannot be replaced: that is not true. It is very hard, virtually impossible to replace him," said Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich as he unveiled a portrait of the fallen general at NATO's Brussels HQ.
Gagor's widow and daughter attended the ceremony alongside: the defence ministers of the US, Canada and Lithuania; the alliance's supreme commander for military transformation; and the head of NATO's military committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola.
"He was a visionary supporter of the alliance ... with his vision of driving the Polish armed forces into their proper place into the alliance and in Europe," Di Paola said.
The ceremony took place as NATO defence ministers were meeting for their regular summer talks. Poland joined NATO in 1999.