Greece welcomes inclusion of Odessa's historic city centre in World Heritage List

By 2 months ago

Greece has welcomed the decision by the World Heritage Committee's to include the Historic Centre of the city of Odessa in Ukraine on the World Heritage List, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The Greek foreign ministry said this decision "is a successful outcome of coordinated efforts, in which the Greek side took the lead, as a member of the Committee -in coordination with Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy and Japan- in order to immediately respond to Ukraine's request for the city's protection, especially under the current war conditions prevailing in the region."

Furthermore, "following relevant instructions from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias, [the ministry] engaged in a diplomatic campaign in order to bend any reservations, considering the protection of this emblematic city of utmost importance for Hellenism, as well as for Ukraine," it added.

The Historic Centre of the Black Sea city being inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger could provide Ukraine with extra technical and financial international assistance for its protection, but also for its repair - in the event of damages incurred by the war.

"While the war continues, this inscription embodies our collective determination to ensure that this city, which has always surmounted global upheavals, is preserved from further destruction," said UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay after the decision.

The agency also stated that it has already assisted with repairs for damage sustained at the Odessa Museum of Fine Arts and the Odessa Museum of Modern Art since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February last year, repeatedly tried to delay the vote to recognise the site's "outstanding universal value" and "the duty of all humanity to protect it".

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, hailed the decision. He had asked for the classification in October to protect the city from Russian bombing.

"Today Odessa got UNESCO protection," he said on Twitter. "I'm grateful to partners who help protect our pearl from the Russian invaders' attacks," he added.

In 1795, after the Russians captured the region from the Turks, a new port was constructed and named Odessa, inspired by the ancient Greek colony of Odessos, the site of which was believed to be in the vicinity.

The Filiki Eteria or Society of Friends (Greek: Φιλικὴ Ἑταιρεία) was a secret organisation founded in 1814 in the Black Sea port city, whose purpose was to overthrow the Ottoman rule of Greece and establish an independent Greek state.

Members were mainly young Phanariot Greeks from Constantinople and the Russian Empire, local political and military leaders from the Greek mainland and islands, as well as several Orthodox leaders from other nations that were under Hellenic influence, such as from Serbia and Romania.

It was therefore only natural that these different social and geographical backgrounds and diversity of interests of the society's members would lead to disagreements about the methods and strategy of the organisation.

Some believed that the Revolution should be postponed for some years so that suitable preparations could be made,

In the end, the first group managed to win the top leadership of the organisation, but the second group was able to secure key positions, albeit lower in rank.

In March 1820, the bolder members hastened to take advantage of the preoccupation of the Ottomans with the serious rebellion of Ali Pasha, but also the general revolutionary spirit prevailing throughout Europe at the time following the revolts in Naples and Spain.

By means of a variety of initiatives, they eventually managed to carry along not only the Filiki Etairia but also the entire Greek world into the Revolution.

The Society initiated the Greek War of Independence in the spring of 1821.

READ MORE: Why do so many cities in Ukraine and Crimea have Greek sounding names?

Copyright GreekCityTimes 2022
Copyright GreekCityTimes 2022