Monday evening saw Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras preside over the official opening ceremony of the Splash-sponsored Posidonia exhibition, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. Despite the firepower that having a prime minister officiate at a shipping show, the thunder came from a familiar source at the opening ceremony with the head of the Greek shipowners association in typically fiery form.
In front of 1,500 guests the Greek prime minister said: “Greek shipping owns the largest international commercial fleet operating 20% of the global and 50% of the European capacity. This economic activity is responsible for a significant portion of the gross domestic product of Greece. It is worth noting, that the 2017 receipts from Greek shipping activity exceeded the EUR9 bn mark, showing an increase of 20% compared to 2016.
“The Greek government is investing in infrastructure upgrades required by our shipping industry, while promoting initiatives which support the sector’s expansion in Greece as well as abroad. Our policy regarding the Greek ports, through selected partners who invest in their strategic growth – such is the case with Piraeus’ establishment as an international maritime hub, with the required structure and infrastructure – can further contribute to the country’s economic development and its position on the world map.”
Theodore Veniamis, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners, used his speech in front of assorted regulators, to hit out at how he felt shipping was picked upon more than other industries to clean up its act.
“It is important that this is recognised by societies and lawmakers alike, as shipping is often held disproportionately responsible for meeting environmental standards compared to other industries,” Veniamis said, adding: “[A]s shipowners, we have no say in the manufacturing of the ships’ engines, nor are we responsible for the quality of the fuels that we have to use. It is obvious that, while the links in the chain of responsibility are many, it has so far proved to be more expedient, at a political level, to solely focus on shipowners, a choice that is misguided and practically ineffective in the end.”
Also on hand for the official opening was the secretary general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Mr Kitack Lim, who said: “We must ensure that the opportunities presented by modern mega trends like digitalization, artificial intelligence and the so-called ‘fourth industrial revolution’ are carefully integrated into shipping, balancing the benefits against safety and security concerns, the impact on the environment, on international trade, and on the human element. Greece is one of the most influential IMO Member States. It has been continuously contributing to all aspects of the work of IMO, in its policy and technical issues.”
Splash will be reporting live from the show all week.