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NEW YORK – Billionaire businessman and philanthropist John Catsimatidis took time out from his busy schedule to share his thoughts with The National Herald on the year 2022 as it draws to a close and is looking forward to the New Year 2023.
The owner, president, chairman, and CEO of Gristedes Foods, a grocery chain in Manhattan, and the Red Apple Group, a real estate and aviation company with about $4.1 billion -as per Forbes magzine- in holdings in New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania, Catsimatidis is also the chairman and CEO of the Red Apple Group subsidiary United Refining Company and owner of the New York radio station WABC as well as an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council.
He noted that he was happy to see this current turbulent year coming to an end and in the spirit of the Christmas season was hopeful for a much better 2023, especially if policies are put in place to deal with various issues including high prices and the crime situation in New York City.
When asked to look back and share his thoughts about the year 2022, Catsimatidis said: “Good riddance. I hope we never see another year like it from COVID to the crime situation in New York City, you don’t want to see it again.”
Of his thoughts for the coming year 2023 in terms of business, he told TNH that “we have hopes that things will change. Christmastime is the time to have a little hope. So, we have hope that the crime situation will go away in New York, we have hope that in 2023 the border situation will be fixed, the fentanyl situation will be fixed, the opening up of North America to more oil, the price of gasoline will come down and when the price of gasoline comes down, the price of diesel comes down, and then the price of food will come down, and the price of heating oil will come down, too.”
In terms of politics, Catsimatidis noted his concerns, “right now, what Washington was doing was punishing the poor and the middle class because all their money went to gasoline at high rates, food at very high rates, and heating oil at very high rates. The people that got punished were not the rich, the people that got punished were the poor and middle class.”
When asked how the war in Ukraine has affected the economy in general and the oil business in particular and if the U.S. is following the right policy in regards to Ukraine, Catsimatidis told TNH:
“Absolutely, it was affected. The people in the oil business made more money. The people that suffered were the poor and the middle class. When I interviewed former Vice President Mike Pence the other day [December 19], I had a dinner party for the Hungarian ministers and they said that if President Trump was still president, Putin would never have had the courage to attack Ukraine. This is the opinion in most of Europe they said.”
Of his thoughts on the state of our Church, as the Vice President of the Archdiocesan Council, he noted the recent progress raising millions of dollars for the various causes related to the Church, securing the pensions for the retired clergy, the completion of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center, and also noted the progress at Hellenic College-Holy Cross School of Theology with President George Cantonis. Catsimatidis praised the leadership of the Archbishop and also noted the spiritual advisor of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Rev. Protopresbyter Alexander Karloutsos, affectionately known as “Father Alex,” who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Joseph Biden on July 7, 2022, “did a great job.”
When asked how we are doing in general as a Greek-American Community, Catsimatidis noted that we are doing well, and at the point where people are proud to say they are Greek-Americans.
Of the state of the Greek-Turkish relations, he said that “they’re the worst they’ve been in years. Years ago there was an earthquake in Constantinople and the European Union voted to send aid but Greece vetoed it and I was sent by then-President Bill Clinton to Greece to meet with officials and get them to vote for the aid and they did. I remember George Papandreou was the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time. Then, about six months later there was an earthquake in Greece and Turkey sent help immediately. Today, the relations are terrible.”
Of his plans for the coming year, Catsimatidis told TNH that all the divisions of his company have projects coming up, noting that the pipeline completed in Canada, “we were getting oil from Canada so the price of our oil never went up because the supply never went down.”
He added that “the real estate division is building more buildings, there are plans for more in Florida and I could build more in New York, but I’m waiting to see who the city belongs to, the people or the criminals. In Coney Island, we spent $400 million dollars The next 3 buildings we put a hold on was 1 Billion. I could build three more on the beach, overlooking the ocean, but we’re going to wait.”
When asked if he plans to visit Nisyros, his native island in Greece’s Dodecanese, Catsimatidis said that he hopes to visit very soon.
He concluded with best wishes for the holiday season and especially health for everyone in the New Year since health is the greatest gift of all.
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