BRUSSELS, October 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
A group of Greek parliamentarians, former ministers accompanied by journalists paid a 2 day visit to Odessa - heart of the historic region of Bessarabia - at the invitation from a local NGO to get acquainted with the current development of Ukraine in light of the country's pro-European course, as well as the situation with the Greek minority in Ukraine.
During the first day in Odessa and meetings with local Greek minority representatives they found that the cultural and other rights of ethnic Greeks are not respected properly, especially the right of education in the mother tongue. Few Greek schools in the region are not supported by the state, they also face many obstacles when it comes to registration of property and heritage rights. There are many other irregularities which complicate normal existence of Greek clubs, organizations and cultural institutions. Visitors from Greece also mentioned the fact that their meeting with local Greeks left an impression that they were facing constant pressure and harassment from Ukrainian authorities - that had been partly confirmed in private chats with some Odessa Greeks.
Former Greek deputy defense minister and ex-MP Konstantinos Isychos also mentioned the problem of conscription of ethnic Greeks to the Armed forces of Ukraine and sending them to the South East of the country to frontline with the rebel Donbass. He pointed that local Greeks as well as other minority representatives "were not eager to kill their brothers".
Greek MP Vasilis Chatzilambrou said that he and his colleagues already informed the Greek parliament and Greek deputies in the European parliament about their preoccupations concerning the state of Greek minority in Ukraine.
The last day of the visit brought the Greek delegation more surprises and troubles when they found in the morning that they are simply blocked in the hotel by members of some radical organization carrying quazi-patriotic slogans.
That day the delegation was supposed to participate in the round table in Odessa where they intended to discuss questions of democratic development of Ukraine and in particular the situation with the Greek minority in Odessa and nearby regions together with local officials, members of Greek community, journalists. Due to this blockade and "unexpected" abolishment of the conference hall booking the whole event was cancelled.
Their appeal for help to the police was simply ignored. Only with the help of diplomats from The Greek Consulate in Odessa they managed to leave the hotel in diplomatic cars. According to local organizers of the round table Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) arrested several people who helped with the arrangements for this visit and "advised" other participants of the discussion to stay out of the event.
Nevertheless in a few interviews at the end of the 2nd day, including one of the Odessa TV channels, Greek representatives expressed their disappointment with such a scandalous ending of their mission. Greek MP Vasilis Chatzilambrou has stated that "the situation in Ukraine is not developing in favor of democracy and basic human rights, especially the right of assembly, are not respected in Ukraine". This opinion was shared by other members of the mission, former ministers and MPs Konstantinos Isychos and Nadia Valavani. All of them were astonished with the fact that they were unble "to move freely in the city, meet with people, and participate in open and free discussions".
The scandal with the high ranking Greek delegation has been already brought to the wide public knowledge inside Greece and has become a breaking news in the local media.
The Greek representatives have also informed their colleagues in the European parliament about the scandal asking them to seriously consider and discuss it. The Greek side intends to send through its Embassy in Kiev a protest regarding "the improper treatment of Greek representatives in Odessa".
Colin Stevens, +44-7548-034225, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE EU Reporter