Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has opened this year’s Posidonia event in Athens by promising to develop his country’s ports, shipyards and seafarers and make them forces to be reckoned with in the international market.
The prime minister praised shipping’s “significant” contribution to Greece’s economy, which is estimated at 7% of its annual GDP.
“The crisis has helped us realise we can turn the page, grow,” he said, citing as inspiration the way that Greeks have turned their relationship with the sea into a competitive advantage.
Shipping, Tsipras continued, today finds itself at the centre of the fundamental changes affecting the world economy, which presents Greece with an opportunity.
“Investments to improve infrastructure are necessary for the emergence of a more competitive [maritime] sector and they will boost the efforts of the shipping industry to come,” he went on.
The prime minister said investments would extend to ports, “maritime clusters”, the reconstruction of shipbuilding zones, plus the provision of maritime and commercial services.
He also plans to invest in maritime training in order to build up the Greek merchant navy and create jobs.
“We aspire to become a global centre because it will attract business deals and partnerships, capitalising on the support of the Greek shipping industry,” he explained.
Tsipras asked shipping industry delegates to help “reconstruct” its relationship with the state, in order to “while safeguarding the prosperity of the Greek economy and society against the continuing storms of the world”.
“I call on you to establish a constructive dialogue that will contribute to the strengthening of the Greek shipping industry, job creation, in order to order to position the country at the centre of the Greek shipping industry,” he finished.
Tsipras reassured the assembled audience, among them many prominent shipowners and politicians, that his parliament’s negotiations with the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would ensure that “Greece is once and for all a country of the Eurozone and ‘Grexit’ is once and for all off the table”.