President Katerina Sakellaropoulou today sent an emotional message of support to the ethnic Greeks of Ukraine, who according to the 2001 census number 91,548 citizens and are centred in the city of Mariupol.

“We honour their courage, stand by them, and support them,” she wrote in a post on Facebook.

“These days, when the threat of war weighs heavily on Ukraine, our thoughts turn to the Greek communities of the Azov [region, near the Black Sea], to all those cities and villages where Greek is still spoken, to the schools were instruction takes place in classrooms with the Greek flag, to our fellow Greeks of all ages who keep alive in their hearts their bonds with their Greek roots,” she wrote.

“Listening to the dialect of the elderly [members of the Greek community, Rumeika], seeing the children learning like a game Modern Greek, and the students of the State University of Mariupol Faculty of Greek Literature and Translation delving into the language and culture of Greece, I am moved by the endurance of the Greeks of the region, from the Byzantine era to this day.”

“The proud spirit of our fellow Greeks, as expressed throughout their thousand-year presence in the region of Ukraine, remains strong in these difficult hours. We honour their bravery and we are with them and support them,” the president concluded.