Top-Kaya launches a new project to preserve the patrimony of Azov Greeks

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On 10 October, the Regional Development Centre ‘Top-Kaya’ started off the project “Preservation of the Linguistic and Cultural Heritage of Azov Greeks”, funded by the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.

The project aspires to lay basis for preserving and capitalizing upon the linguistic and cultural legacy of the Azov Greeks, a unique ethnographic community. Formed on the Crimean Peninsula, and resettled to northern shores of the Azov Sea in the 18th century, they made a significant contribution to shaping the cultural diversity of south-eastern Ukraine. The project plans to collect, process, publish and distribute a range of informational and promotional texts and video materials, on paper and through the Internet, as well as to conduct awareness-raising events to promote the languages ​​and culture of the Azov Greeks in Mariupol and in Kyiv.

A particular feature of the Azov Greeks is their single material and intangible culture expressed in two authentic languages: Rumeika, also called the Mariupol Greek, stems from the Ancient Greek and may be considered, alongside the Modern Greek and the Pontic Greek, a distinct language in the Greek language family, while Urum is close to the Crimean Tatar but with a number of unique features making it valuable for studying the Turkic heritage of the country. These languages ​​are absolutely unique and not spoken anywhere outside Ukraine.

It should be noted that the Azov Greeks have no other homeland than Ukraine, and their culture is an inalienable integral part of the country’s cultural diversity. Hence, it is highly important to preserve and incorporate the culture of the Azov Greeks into the national cultural context and to use and promote their legacy among all Ukrainian citizens.

Unfortunately, the attempts to study and preserve the languages ​​of the Azov Greeks in Ukraine are still scarce, and mainly known by a narrow circle of interested persons. Even the Azov Greeks themselves mostly have no access to sources and materials that would uphold the development of their languages. However, the present day offers a wide range of traditional and innovative means that can and should be used to preserve the languages ​​of the Azov Greeks and the culture created in these languages.

The project will only last until the end of the current year, but we hope that it will be able to lay the ground for further continuous work on the codification and preservation of the languages ​​and culture of the Greeks of Ukraine, and the dissemination of knowledge about the rich cultural heritage of Ukrainian Azov region.