Italy steps in to rebuild Odesa, signaling a new era of cooperation and restoration.
ODESA, October 7, 2023 – In a significant development, the Italian government has announced its commitment to sponsor the reconstruction of historical buildings in Odesa and the surrounding region, which were ravaged by Russian attacks.
The decision was made public during a joint statement by Italy and Ukraine on October 2, coinciding with the visit of Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.
This commitment is the result of ongoing discussions between the Italian and Ukrainian governments, which initially commenced on April 26, 2023, when the two nations co-hosted a Bilateral Conference in Rome. During this conference, they outlined the necessary tools for Ukraine’s reconstruction and vowed to strengthen their bilateral ties. The primary objective was to foster cooperation, particularly among Ukrainian and Italian businesses, encouraging them to collaborate for the economic revival of the war-torn nation.
Following this, a delegation from Italian cultural institutions, under the coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, traveled to Odesa on September 7 to assess the sites damaged by Russian missile attacks during the summer, including the iconic Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Shortly after the attack on July 23 that struck Odesa’s most prominent Orthodox church, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Foreign Minister Tajani expressed Italy’s intent to contribute to the reconstruction efforts, including the restoration of other culturally significant sites in the city center, which is protected by UNESCO.
During the visit, the Italian team, led by Stefano Boeri, President of the Triennale Museum in Milan, and Alessandro Giuli, President of the MAXXI Museum in Rome, along with Ambassador Pier Francesco Zazo in Kyiv and the head of the Italy-Ukraine task force of the Foreign Ministry, Davide La Cecilia, selected Odesa as the ideal location for the Ukrainian Reconstruction Laboratory. This initiative will be officially presented at an event in Milan on October 31.
Italy aims to establish an international hub for the reconstruction of Ukrainian cities and territories, focusing on principles of urban regeneration and innovation. Italy’s patronage of Odesa and its region will involve commitments in various areas, including urban planning, environmental concerns, digitalization, infrastructure, maritime industry, transportation, culture, and tourism.
This decision is further rooted in the historical and cultural ties between Odesa and Italy. Italian immigrants played a significant role in the construction of the new port on the Black Sea at the end of the 18th century. Italy has also been involved in efforts to include Odesa’s historic center as a World Heritage Site and in the UNESCO List of Ukrainian cultural sites in danger.