Traces of Friendly Society are uncovered in Moldova

MOLDOVA – The snow was falling heavily, covering the large park in downtown Chisinau, home to the Greek Orthodox Church of Aghios Panteleimon. Despite the cold, the faithful waited patiently to enter the church. «This is where local Greeks gather,» said the guide, attracting the attention of some congregation members, who turned and smiled when they heard Greek spoken. The Greek presence is intense and long-lasting throughout Moldova. Past and present intertwine, from the oath to liberate Greece that the Holy Brigade swore to Greek Independence hero Ypsilantis, to the achievements of the Greeks who live and work in Moldova today. As the country’s President Vladimir Voronin told Kathimerini at the presidential mansion: «It was from here in Chisinau that your struggle for freedom began. Now you Greeks are supporting our endeavor to join the European Union. That means a great deal to us.» In the center of Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, is an old building whose history was long unknown. Its background was discovered a few months ago in the course of research conducted by colleagues of Greek Deputy Parliament Speaker Giorgos Sourlas, who were seeking information about the monk Daniil Filippidis, said to be the father of history and geography in Moldova and Romania. They discovered that the building, erected in 1816, was the Friendly Society’s house, and in its basement the Holy Brigade of Ypsilantis were sworn in before setting out for Greece. It was there that talk was first heard of freeing Greece from the Ottoman yoke. The find alerted the deputy speaker, who acted with Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis to bring the historic building under Greek ownership. On June 24-25, the Rigas Velestinlis Inter-Balkan Cooperation Institute will hold a congress in Chisinau on Ypsilantis and the Friendly Society, as well as the historic past of Moldova and Greece and their relations now.