June 7, 2018
Καλησπέρα. Good evening. I promise to be short as I know it’s been a record-breaking year for Posidonia, and so a long week already for many of you, and I see George Xiradakis from the Propeller Club.
A week ago George said this was the beginning of the Posidonia marathon, and I said, “well, if it’s a marathon, my goal is to not be Pheidippides, and die at the end.” Tonight, the good news is that we’ve all made it, and I hope everyone will relax, enjoy the evening, and enjoy the garden. We don’t have a beautiful view of the Aegean to offer you, but if I could tell you a small story – if you look behind me, you’ll see a sculpture by Varotsos, and until that was loaned to the US Embassy, it was actually in Syros, as Panos [Xenokostas] will recognize. This is the sculpture that Varotsos had on display in the Syros harbor, so this is our little bit of the Aegean down here behind us.
I want to say thank you and welcome especially to our VIP guests here: Minister Pappas, Admiral Apostolakis, Admiral Tsounis, and others who I’m probably overlooking. This is a very important occasion for us. The United States has been part of Posidonia since its very beginning, 34 years ago. But in fact, the United States has a history with shipping that goes back to the very founding of our country. I didn’t know until I was getting ready for this evening, that one out of every four signers of the Declaration of Independence was either a ship owner or a ship captain. So, there’s a great future for all of you.
This year, of course, Posidonia is bigger than ever, and it’s important to remember, and I was talking to Captain Tsakos as he was coming in and I was saying how impressed I was by the size of Posidonia, but he made an important point, that Posidonia is a global event, it’s about the global maritime industry, but it’s also an opportunity for Greece to put its best face forward and to remind the global industry of what Greece offers, in terms of human capital, in terms of entrepreneurship, and also importantly, in terms of my country, in terms of friendship with the United States. And of course many of the big Greek shippers are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which is another manifestation of that relationship.
This event this evening and our participation with the large US Pavilion at Posidonia, which I was glad Prime Minister Tsipras was able to see on Monday, is the kickoff of a very intensive period of US-Greece economic engagement. In a week and a half, I will be joining colleagues from the AmCham and the Athens Stock Exchange to travel to New York for a roadshow targeted at American investors to get the word out on the opportunities here and what we see happing with Greek economic recovery. I then go down to Washington, D.C. with about twenty colleagues from Greek companies for the SelectUSA Conference in Washington, which is aimed at identifying opportunities for inward investment in the United States. And then of course we move on to the Thessaloniki International Fair in September.
I want to say thank you to some of our partners, starting of course with the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, who helped us with today’s event. Also the Propeller Club, which is part of almost everything we do. NAMEPA and all of my colleagues from the commercial section, who organized the Trading in US Waters conference today at the US Pavilion. I also want to say thank you for the partnership to Theo Vokos from Posidonia Expositions who told me he’s already working on two years from now, and also his partner Brett Kiel from Maritime Executive, who represents Posidonia in the United States. And Brett was pointing out to me that he had more US companies than ever before this year and that we are expecting an even bigger and better event two years from now.
So I think that is a manifestation of the strength but also the possibilities ahead of us in terms of the US-Greece trade and investment relationship and the central role that the shipping, maritime, and transport sectors play in that relationship. So I hope everyone will use tonight as an opportunity to put your hair down, celebrate the fact that you’ve survived Posidonia, but also do a little bit of networking and build relationships – we’ve got a lot of U.S. companies here tonight, big ones like the American Club from New York City. I was glad to meet the head of the Charlestown port, and I said “Oh you have to meet Panos who’s running the shipyard in Syros” and before I could even arrange anything they were already talking to each other. So there’s a lot of networking happening here tonight but I hope everybody will also enjoy the garden.
So thank you very much, and have fun! Ευχαριστώ πολύ.