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Greek FM Nikos Dendias Visits Odessa, Ukraine

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The Russov House, one of many historic buildings in Odessa, Ukraine. Credit: Romankravchuk/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias visited the Ukrainian city of Odessa on Tuesday, where he reaffirmed his country’s dedication to preserving the city’s cultural heritage.

While in the Southern city of Odessa, Dendias visited the Odessa National Scientific Library, which is home to countless historic Greek books, as the city is home to a sizeable diaspora community from Greece that dates back to antiquity.

“Greece is making every effort to protect Odessa and the elements of Greece’s cultural presence from the ramifications of war,” Dendias said during his meeting with Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov, local officials, and members of the Greek diaspora community in the city.

While the Greek FM was visiting the city, the Consulate General of Greece in Odessa and the State Archives of Odessa Region signed an agreement to digitize historic documents and books that relate to the city’s Greek community.

Odessa home to historic Greek community

Perhaps unsurprisingly, while the ancient Greeks colonized much of the Mediterranean, they didn’t stop there. The land under their control even stretched up across the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. A large area of the southern coast of Ukraine, along with the Crimean Peninsula, was home to Greek communities.

The beautiful southern city of Odessa was named after an ancient Greek city called Odessos and housed historic, Greek communities from antiquity until this very day.

The Filiki Eteria, founded in Odessa on September 14, 1814, played a crucial role in the uprising that led to the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, which began on March 25, 1821.

In 1814, three Greeks of the diaspora came together in Odessa in present-day Ukraine, where a thriving Greek community lived. They formed a secret society with the purpose of initiating a Greek revolution to rid the country of the Ottomans.

The former Kresnij Pereulok Street, home of Greek businessman and national benefactor Grigorios Maraslis (1831-1907), the mayor of Odessa between 1878 and 1895, was where the secret society—much like the Sons of Liberty in the American colonies—hatched the plans that would come to fruition in the revolution.

It was in this home that 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.

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