Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional speech at the Greek Parliament on Thursday saying that the Greek revolutionary motto “Freedom or Death” applies to his country today.
He said that just as the Greek predecessors fought for their liberty by the rallying cry “Freedom or Death,” Ukrainians are doing the same now in the face of Russian aggression.
Zelensky told Greek parliamentarians that the city of Mariupol, the epicenter of the Greek presence in Ukraine, is in ruins.
“Mariupol is almost destroyed. This city has always been home to a large Greek community. The Ukrainian Greek community is one of the largest in the world. For centuries, our people have lived side by side, raised children and built the future,” he said.
He added that Odessa, the city where the Greek Revolution was born through the establishment of Filiki Eteria is also threatened.
Need to create a New Filiki Eteria, Zelensky tells Greek Parliament
“Maybe there is a need to establish a new Filiki Eteria to save Ukraine and Hellenism in the country,” he said.
“Russian troops have now brought death and destruction to where Ukrainians and Greeks have enjoyed peace and prosperity for centuries,” Zelensky added.
Odessa is where the founders of Filiki Eteria (Φιλική Εταιρία), or the Society of Friends —Emmanuil Xanthos, Athanasios Tsakalov and Nikolaos Skoufas — vowed to revolt against the Ottomans who had ruled Greece for almost 400 years.
Greece to ask the International Criminal Court to investigate Mariupol
Greece will ask the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes in the Russian-besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, home to a large Greek community, its foreign minister said on Thursday.
Mariupol, an industrial port city close to the eastern breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, had a pre-war population of around 400,000, but the city has been devastated by regular bombardment since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th.
Tens of thousands are trapped, according to the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces.
“Greece has a specific, special interest in Mariupol because of the existence of 100,000 and more Greek community,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told reporters upon arriving at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.
Dendias said he would also urge his colleagues to “try our best” to help Ukraine protect its historic Black Sea port of Odessa, “so Odessa can avoid the fate of Mariupol.”
Greece is said to have rejected US proposal to send weapons to Ukraine
Zelensky’s speech to the Greek Parliament comes after Greece has reportedly rejected a US proposal to supply Ukraine with additional Russian-made weapon systems.
Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos gave an indirect but negative response to the proposal brought by visiting US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, according to the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini.
Panagiotopoulos maintains that Greece cannot compromise its defense capabilities, it was said.
The newspaper asserted that the country was approached by the US through informal channels to provide Ukraine with Russian-made air defense systems, including short-range TOR M-1 and OSA-AK surface-to-air missiles (SAM), which Greece possesses.