ATHENS – Their politicians are fighting it out and bringing tensions to a near-conflict level, but everything is just hunky-dory between shipowners as Turkey’s maritime masters made Greece’s counterparts the guest of honor at the Istship International Shipping Conference in Constantinople.
That came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was threatening war and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was firing back ripostes when they took their turns on the stage at the United Nations Annual General Assembly opening in New York.
Nearly 700 industry representatives from all over the world gathered for the event, said the site Tradewinds, which covers the industry, although it’s not nearly as large as the Greek shipowers Posidonia conference in Athens.
Erdogan and Mitsotakis were swapping shots at each other but none of that was going on between the oligarchs of their countries, showing business was business and nothing personal nor political.
“I want to thank our many friends from Greece for their collaboration, support and friendship,” said Cihan Ergenc, President of the Turkish Shipowners’ Association, which hosted the jamboree.
Nikos Marmatsouris, Senior Marketing manager at GAC Shipping, one of the Greek participants gave the love right back. “It was a great honour to have been invited to the event, particularly with Greece being the guest country,” he said.
“We had the opportunity to hear and discuss all the latest maritime industry developments and concerns with a plethora of shipping executives from all sectors and from several countries, at a great venue,” Marmatsouris added.
The Turkish and Greek participants said they stuck together to help the industry deal with some pressing problems, especially decarbonization, said Dimitris Fafalios, representing the Union of Greek Shipowners.
“Shipping unites us,” said Fafalios, who is also Chairman of Intercargo — the international association of dry bulk shipowners and that was backed up by Tamer Kiran, head of the Turkish Chamber of Shipping.
“We believe Turkey and Greece, and other nations … should reconsider pathways for decarbonization, including energy efficiency improvements,” he said, referring to reducing greenhouse cases creating climate change.
“Cooperation among shipowners, as well as with authorities, shall be critical,” Kiran added, the site reported.
Other major players at the event were Pinar Kalkavan, Chairwoman of the Association of Turkish Coaster Owners and Operators, and Charalambos Simantonis, Chairman of the Hellenic Shortsea Shipowners Association.
While there’s worry about Greek and Turkish naval vessels squaring off in the Aegean or East Mediterranean, where Turkey said it would hunt for energy, Greece shipowners use Turkish shipyards to repair, dry-dock and refit their vessels.
Greek shipowners rule the world’s waves and are the biggest players in the sector but Turkey’s shipping is growing although it has just 1.5 percent of the world fleet, compared to Greeks having almost 20 percent now.
But Turkish shipowners share of the global fleet increased in 2021 for the first time in a decade, by 6 percent and the Turkish Shipowners Association said that, “We assume that this enlargement will continue for 2022.”