I have had the pleasure of meeting and cooperating with several Greek Ship Owners, and although we do not hear much to the entire Greek maritime financial situation during the current crisis, they still exist, but active outside of Greece..
The Greek shipping industry has many “gray zones” of conscience and it is difficult even today to know how much their assets actually are mutually exclusive, since a large part is stored in either Swiss or other banks who do not reveal anything in the public space.
Greece is a maritime nation by tradition, as shipping is arguably the oldest form of occupation of the Greeks and has been a key element of Greek economic activity since ancient times.
The Greeks have been a maritime nation since the times of ancient Greece, as the mountainous landscape of the mainland, the limited farming area and the extended coastline of Greece led people to occupy with shipping. The geographical position of the region on the crossroads of ancient sea lanes in the eastern Mediterranean, the multiplicity of islands and the proximity to other advanced civilizations helped shape the maritime nature of the Greek nation at an early stage. Thus, the Greeks soon came to dominate the maritime trade in the region, gradually expanding it along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, and establishing colonies. A large part of the sea trade of the Roman Empire was carried out by the Greeks in the following centuries, while they continued to be involved and play a major role in shipping during the era of the Byzantine Empire as well.
After the Second World War, the Greek government gave certain guarantees, so that 100 Liberties and 7 T2 tankers could be given to Greek owners. This was the beginning of the latest re-vitalisation of the Greek merchant marine, and in the 30 or so years that followed, they reached the highest peak yet in their very long maritime history of almost 5,000 ships of 52,000,OPO gross in 1977 or 4,750 ships of over 54,000,000 gross tons in 1981, the largest fleet in the world. A magnificent achievement indeed.
Greek Shipping 2012
Greek FinMin’s invitation to ship owners to support the financial restructuring of the country has not surprised, but kind of bothered them.
Although the majority of Greek-owned fleet has not a Greek flag, or Greek ship-owners have no substantial activity in Greece, shipping contributes 6% in the country’s GDP.
Shipping sources told Capital.gr that Greek ship-owners would not refuse to help the country’s economy, but as the global economy is in crisis, any investments and contributions should be under a clear framework of initiatives and incentives.
They note that many times in the past shipping world responded positively to government’s request for support, but most of the ship-owners regretted it because of bureaucracy, inconsistency, etc.
They state that the last time the Greek government asked for investments in real estate, resulted in a tax of 15% in property, owned by offshore companies.
This is obviously only a part of “The Rich Greece” – There are many similar large areas where the ‘smokescreen shadows to the light’ and it goes right into the heart of the EU’s top officials – it could be that it is one of the reasons why it time after time goes in a hard-knot, when negotiations for Greece’s fate must be decided.
Politicians, who are interfering in international financial affairs are rarely a welcome thing in the business world’s diverse universe, and it seems clear to everyone that several politicians have now seen through both methods and lack of morals for the benefit of what they should represent – the entire population regardless of social status.
Kurt Lykke Lindved
Ambassador UN, Lecturer and Writer