28 ambassadors and representatives from the embassies of nations around the world were present at the event, which was co-organized by the Municipality of Athens, the embassies of Canada, Sweden and Ukraine in Greece, and ELIAMEP. The event was dedicated to the impact of the war on the Greek-Ukrainian communities which have been present on Ukrainian territory for centuries.
As part of the event, a five-minute video was shown. Entitled “The day that stopped time: The Ukraine’s Greek Communities and the War”, it was produced by ELIAMEP, and edited by the journalist and expert in international affairs Marilisa Anastasopoulou.
The video begins with the bombing of Mariupol, the city founded by the Greeks as early as the 7th century, whose population included some 100,000 Greeks before the Russian invasion, displacement and killing began. It records the long history of the Greek communities in Ukraine and the tragic impact this war has had on them.
At the event, the President of the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Mr Loukas Tsoukalis, referred to the Greeks’ long-standing presence in Ukraine and to the strong Greek identity they have retained. “I shall end with a double wish”, he said: “May the war end as soon as possible and, above all, may the invader not be rewarded”.
In his speech, the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, warmly thanked the ambassadors of Canada, Sweden and Ukraine, as well as the management of ELIAMEP, for their contributions in organizing yesterday’s event and referred with pride to the Greek communities of Ukraine, as well as to Athens’ uninterrupted support for the Ukrainian people.
The Canadian Ambassador Anna-Karine Asselin, stressed: “We support Ukraine, which is defending its rights and the principles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of democracy. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be safeguarded”.
One of the event’s most touching moments was provided by the speech of Elizaveta Kuzminskaya-Polykhronidi who, representing the Federation of Greek Societies of Ukraine, spoke about the experience of the Greeks of Ukraine in the war.
The event ended with a discussion moderated by the Communications Officer of the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Odin Linardatou. It featured the participation of two Greek journalists who have spent the last year serving as war correspondents on the front line in Ukraine, Sotiris Danezis and Marilisa Anastasopoulou, who conveyed their experiences in Ukraine during the war.
Finally, the Municipality of Athens made a symbolic gesture to mark the passing of a year since the invasion, lighting both the fountain in Omonia square and Technopolis in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.