Prominent shipowner Panos Laskaridis has fired off an angry letter in quitting the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) in the wake of a damaging television documentary which looked at the relationship between the local shipowning community and the Greek government.
Laskaradis, the former head of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), created some of the biggest headlines with the recent release of Black Trail, an investigation into the environmental impacts of the shipping industry, including a frank look at how the sector is governed and subsidised.
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.”
Theodore Veniamis, the president of the UGS, said last week his organisation “unequivocally” condemned Laskardis’s comments which he claimed do not express the “genuine and deep patriotic feelings” of the UGS.
Even Laskaridis’s brother was 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.
Fed up with what he described as a character assassination, Laskardis has now quit the UGS. In his resignation letter he hit out at journalists for taking his comments out of context, as well as some members of the UGS for their harsh words towards him in the wake of the documentary airing. Laskaridis apologised to both the Greek prime minister and the minister of shipping while slamming the Greek shipowner association for questioning his patriotism.