In a stirring Posidonia 2014 opening speech, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaris paid tribute to the sea and seafaring as defining “the essence of Greece, its history and unique civilization.”
He said throughout history, it was this maritime tradition that had allowed the country to “gain hope and power, overcome difficulties, re-establish prosperity and start over again.”
So it was again now, he said, with shipping proving one of the country’s two “champion sectors” – alongside tourism – pulling the country out of its recent financial difficulties.
Greece expects to receive a record 20 million visitors this year, while Posidonia 2014 has already broken the previous attendance record with more than 1,870 exhibitors from 93 countries.
“The economic potential of the Greek commercial fleet and the strategic positioning of Greece in future world commerce are gaining power by the day,” the Prime Minister stated.
The Greek-operated fleet represents some 15% of world commerce, and in the past 10 years Greek owners have built more than 2,500 oceangoing ships, mainly in Asian shipyards, he said.
“As we speak, a new vessel of Greek ownership is being built every two days worldwide. Even more importantly, Greece is now becoming “the most stable country in an unstable region, and a perfect gateway for commerce from Asian ports extending from the Middle East to the Far East and Japan, through the Suez Canal to the continental European markets,” he added.
President of the Union of Greek Shipowners, Theodore Veniamis, in his address thanked the Prime Minister for his presence and urging that “shipping should be a central part of the vision of European politicians due to its strategic importance for Europe and as the main facilitator of world trade and globalization.”
He said continuation of the existing Guidelines on State Aid to Maritime Transport were of “paramount importance,” even as he reminded the gathering that the Greek tonnage tax system established in 1975 had been the prototype for European shipping policy.
After the official opening Prime Minister Samaris spent nearly three hours touring the exhibition, learning yet more about Greece’s world shipping leadership role at the world’s leading maritime event.