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Greek FM: Greece will strive to protect Odessa and its Greek heritage

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, speaking to reporters during a visit to the Ukrainian city of Odessa on Tuesday, sent the message that Greece and its government is making every effort to protect the city and Greece’s cultural heritage there from the repercussions of the war.

“It is my great pleasure to be in Odessa once more today. Firstly to meet the mayor, G. Trukhanov, so that we can discuss how we will coordinate the joint effort to make the historic center of Odessa a cultural monument protected by UNESCO, a World Heritage monument, creating in this way a cultural shield that will protect this historic center from the repercussions of the war. A center that is linked to Greece, chiefly because this is where the Greek Revolution began,” Dendias said.

He pointed out that the building in which the Greek Revolution started was in Odessa and owned by the Greek state, while Greece was also linked to Odessa via the Opera House, which had been built when the city’s mayor was Grigorios Maraslis, an ethnic Greek who had been one of Greece’s great benefactors.

Dendias said the Greek culture ministry will assist by supplying two experts, while Greece will use the experience gained in the successful effort to have the town of Corfu declared a World Heritage Monument, in order to soon include Odessa in the same list.

The Greek minister also met members of the Greek community in the city, including Greeks that fled Mariupol when this was attacked by Russia.

He is to be briefed by the head of the Odessa regional military command on the situation and attend the signature of an agreement with the Odessa State Archives, in which the Greek ministry will agree to jointly finance efforts to digitalize archives concerning the Greek presence in the city.