GREEKS IN UKRAINE

In the rich ethnic palette of Ukraine, a worthy place belongs to the Greeks. It is well known that the first Greek settlements in the North Black Sea appeared in the VI century B.C. During the following historical periods, the Greek emigration from Greece, Turkey and Ottoman Crimea flourished the region with Hellenes, bringing elements of classical civilization, culture, language and Christianity onto the pre-Ukrainian land.

The Greeks of Ukraine are the Greek minority residing in Ukraine. The majority are concentrated around the city of Mariupol. According to the Ukrainian census of 2001 (http://2001.ukrcensus.gov.ua/eng/results/general/nationality/), 91,548 Greeks reside in Ukraine, which make up 0.02% of the country's population. Greek presence in the Black Sea has existed since antiquity. The first Greek colonies on the shores of present-day Ukraine were founded in the 6th century BC. The inhabitants of these colonies frequently traded with other peoples of the Black Sea (Scythians, Cimmerians, Goths, Maoists). After the Mongol invasion of the steppes of the north, Greeks remained only in the southern hills of the Crimea and were divided into two groups, the Turkish-speaking Urum and the Pontians who spoke Greek.

The rights and interests of the Greeks are represented by 95 Greek communities in 21 regions of Ukraine, which since 1995 have been united under the Federation of the Greek Societies of Ukraine. The FGSU is chaired by Oleksandra Protsenko.

The Ukrainian Hellenes make a significant contribution to the socio-political, socio-economic and religious development of polyethnic Ukraine. With their notable accomplishments, they have proven to be aν adornment to the multinational Ukrainian palette. The Federation of Greek Societies in Ukraine has many innovative ideas and has taken many initiatives. During the period of its existence, FGSU together with Mariupol State University has made significant progress in the development of Greek education, culture, traditions, Orthodoxy, international relations, the implementation of health, humanitarian and other programs. Greeks are also active members of the Ukrainian politics.

Every year, great work is put into introducing the Greek language to schools, in which, besides learning language, students study the history, culture and traditions of the Greek people. Due to the financial support of the Greek side, namely, the Boumbouras Foundation, the Federation in cooperation with the Mariupol State University has the opportunity to annually host a student Olympiad on the Greek language, history, culture of Greece and the Greeks of Ukraine, which is of great importance to the spiritual upbringing of the younger generation. This Olympiad gathers 500 to 700 children from different regions of Ukraine.

Along with the study of Modern Greek, the Federation pays great attention to the preservation and study of Rumaiica and Urum languages spoken by the ancestors living in the regions. Today, 48 villages in the Donetsk region are native speakers of these languages. In order to preserve the historical heritage of the Priazovye Greeks, the FGSU publishes dictionaries and works by local Greek writers and poets.

The original culture and works of Greek poets, writers, ethnologists, composers and artists are the link between modern generations of the Hellenes and their ancestors of the classical civilization. The culture has spread to all Ukrainian and international levels and is quite popular and loved. It has become the norm in the Greek societies of Ukraine, to annually celebrate the national Independence Day of Greece. Additionally, the Ukrainian festival of Greek Culture “Mega Giorti”, international festival of Greek songs of T. Katsi, festivals of folk art of the Greeks of the Azov region, concerts of Greek artists and cultural events have great popularity among Greeks and all the multinational population of Ukraine.

Printed media are an effective means of consolidating the Greeks. Each year books of Greek authors are published, as well as the newspaper of the Federation called "Hellenes of Ukraine".

At the initiative of the FGSU and with the support of τηε World Council of Greeks Abroad in Mariupol built the Cultural Center of the FGSU (2000), Greek Diagnostic Medical Center (2003), Modern Clinic in the village New Crimea (2004) church of St. George in village Sartana (2005) and with the active participation of the City Council of Mariupol, OJSC Ilyich iron and steel works and OJSC Azovmash, Cultural Centre of the Greek community of Mariupol "Meotida" (2008) built with the support of the international company Michaniki S.A.

FGSU realized the long-term dream of the Ukrainian Greeks about the revival of ties with the historical homeland. As a component of world Hellenism, the Federation of Greek Societies of Ukraine develops friendship and cooperation with the associations of the Greeks of Germany, Cyprus, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries. Another initiative of reviving the ties of the two nations is made by the Boumbouras Foundation which has organized many educational, humanitarian, religious, social and medical programs.

Many initiatives and hard work has brought us where we are today. A country in which Hellenism flourishes and the spirits of the two nations are united.