Panos Laskaridis’s own brother has been among a host of well-known names in Greek shipping to distance themselves from comments carried in a widely watched documentary in which the former president of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) intimates Greek shipowners could “shit on the prime minister”.
Laskaridis’s incendiary remarks were shown to Greece’s minister of shipping mid-way through the hour-long European Investigative Collaborations-produced Black Trail documentary leading to consternation among top Greek shipowners and senior members of the Greek government.
Black Trail is an investigation into the environmental impacts of the shipping industry, including a frank look at how the sector is governed and subsidised, as well as a section filmed in Athens focusing on how Greek shipowners operate.
During the film, Ioannis Plakiotakis, Greece’s minister of shipping visibly squirms when shown earlier footage of an interview with Laskaridis who says: “People who are in shipping don’t need the Greek government, don’t need the ministry, don’t need the IMO, don’t need the prime minister. They can shit on the prime minister. They have no need of the prime minister. Why? Because shipping has nothing to do with Greece. There is nothing that a shipowner will gain from Greece. No cargoes to Greece. No contracts from Greece, nothing in Greece. Only his office is here. 80% has foreign flags. They don’t care about the Greek flag.”
The film has once again stirred debate about the contribution Greek shipowning makes to the national economy, something lobby groups and top owners have had to try and get on the front foot about over the past 24 hours.
A spokesperson for the government said Laskaridis’s comments were unacceptable, while Theodore Veniamis, the president of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS), said his organisation “unequivocally” condemned Laskardis’s comments which he claimed do not express the “genuine and deep patriotic feelings” of the UGS.
“The Greek shipping family respects and honours the country’s prime minister, members of the Greek government and its officials, advocating the cross-party nature of shipping as a national asset for the country,” Veniamis said.
The Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee (GSCC) in London backed up the statements from the UGS boss, saying that “without the Greek government, the Greek flag, the Greek sailors and our offices in Greece, what we now call the miracle of Greek shipping would not have happened.”
Even Laskaridis’s brother has been at pains to put some distance from the remarks.
“I would like to state that these are his personal views which I not only do not share but with which I am diametrically opposed,” commented Thanasis Laskaridis, the president and CEO of Lavinia Corporation.
For his part, Panos Laskaridis has attempted to suggest in recent days that his comments were taken out of context.
The documentary, which also features interviews with other Greek owners such as George Prokopiou, John Platsidakis and Dimitris Fafalios, can be watched below.