‘A great victory’: Odesa Mayor reacts to UNESCO Heritage List inclusion

Mr. Trukhanov spoke to UN News shortly after the decision was announced on Wednesday, and explained the arduous process that led to its inclusion.

Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov.
Mayor of Odesa, Gennady Trukhanov

Gennady Trukhanov We have applied for inclusion UNESCO List of World Heritage in 2009 and has been accepted to the provisional list. But the procedure was lengthy and with the outbreak of war there was a real threat that our architectural monuments would be destroyed.

So within the first month of the Russian military invasion, I contacted our Ministry of Culture and Foreign Affairs to apply for a quick registration to put our historic center and port on the UNESCO list. List of World Heritage Sites.

We are grateful to UNESCO for its support. We held a lot of online meetings and UNESCO provided us with consultants to help us complete our profile correctly. We are in close contact with them almost every day and without their support and legal advice it would be very difficult to do all this work.

We have a very difficult job ahead of us: a UNESCO commission is coming to us within the next few months and we need to set up an agency to oversee the preservation of our cultural heritage.

The streets of Odessa during the Russian invasion of Ukraine

The streets of Odessa during the Russian invasion of Ukraine

UN News: Since the first days of the invasion, Odesa has been under constant attack. What has the city government done to protect the historic part of the city?

Gennady Trukhanov: We have covered all our monuments with sandbags, but it is difficult to ensure complete security. For example, an explosion from a downed missile damaged an architectural monument, the Vorontsov Palace on Prymorskyi Avenue, part of the roof was destroyed and the windows were smashed.

Of course, we can’t do anything in the event of a direct attack, but we can protect our monuments from blast waves, from debris. The Opera House was besieged with bags for a long time, but then we partially unlocked it to show that Ukraine today still exists and that we support our cultural values.

Our colleagues in Italy, who have extensive experience in cooperation with UNESCO, asked us to transfer particularly valuable paintings from our museum to them for temporary storage, because they I constantly lose power, the heat supply and the paintings need a certain temperature regime. We are considering taking advantage of this offer.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres with Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres with Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov

United Nations News: Despite the war, does cultural life continue in Odesa today?

Gennady Trukhanov: Yes, the cultural life in Odesa continues.

Premieres and performances are being held at the Opera House in compliance with all security measures; This means that the number of attendees is limited to the capacity of the bomb shelter.

We believe that participating in cultural activities is therapy for people, so that they are not too depressed. The war has been going on for almost a year and it is difficult to maintain morale.

First commercial vessel carrying grain under the Black Sea Grains Initiative.

First commercial vessel carrying grain under the Black Sea Grains Initiative.

United Nations News: Odesa Port is one of three participating ports Black Sea Grains Initiative. How has life in the city changed since the show started?

Gennady Trukhanov: I was born and raised in Odesa, when the port stops working, ships do not go to sea, the port is silent. it was very sad to see.

But since the beginning of the implementation of the Initiative, made possible by international support and the personal efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, it has been possible to start port work and restore the movement of human cargo. religion.

It is of great importance to port workers and all companies with port related activities, as it is to all of us and to the whole world. It was like a return to the life we ​​had before.

We want to expand the Initiative, although we understand that all of this will not be easy. We support these efforts, we are grateful to them. and we hope that they will be crowned successfully.


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